How do restaurant workers live on some of the lowest wages in America? And how do poor working conditions - discriminatory labor practices, exploitation, and unsanitary kitchens - affect the meals that arrive at our restaurant tables?
Saru Jayaraman, who launched a national restaurant workers organization after 9/11, answers those questions in a presentation based on her new book Behind the Kitchen Door on Thursday, April 11, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
By following the lives of 10 restaurant workers in New York City, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Houston, Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, Detroit, and New Orleans, Jayaraman shows that the quality of the food that arrives at our restaurant tables is not just a product of raw ingredients: it's the product of the hands that chop, grill, sauté, and serve it, and the bodies to whom those hands belong.
Behind the Kitchen Door is a groundbreaking exploration of the political, economic, and moral implications of eating out. At stake when we choose a restaurant, Jayaraman maintains, is not only our own health or "foodie" experience, but the health and well-being of the second-largest private sector workforce: some 10 million people, many immigrants, many people of color, who bring passion, tenacity, and important insight into the American dining experience.
Jayaraman is co-founder and director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. She organizes restaurant workers in workplace justice campaigns, conducts research and policy work, and works to launch cooperatively-owned restaurants. A graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Jayaraman co-edited The New Urban Immigrant Workforce, and was named one of New York magazine's "influentials" of New York City.
This program is co-sponsored by the Greater Kansas City Coalition for Food and Health Justice.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP at kclibrary.org  or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore.