The tandem spectrums of Labor and Workforce assess the safety and wellbeing of workers in the cultivation and processing of food products. The Labor spectrum evaluates working conditions for agricultural laborers, such as farm workers, migrant fruit pickers, or ranch hands. The Workforce spectrum examines food manufacturing conditions across the board, from factories to slaughterhouses to packaging plants.

The majority of violations—and the most egregious abuses—occur at the site of the food production rather than during the processing stage. Isolated, rural operations offer fewer inherent protections for agricultural workers than urban manufacturing facilities. Therefore, HowGood works from fundamentally different vantage points for each of these metrics.

There are entire regions of the world with grave labor ethics problems. Globalization and commodification have normalized the availability and affordability of once-exotic foods like bananas, creating a consumer base that is isolated from the negative labor and environmental preconditions for their food. Most food sold in the United States is both grown and processed here. Because US operations largely do not engage in slave labor or child labor, they are better than the global average.


For farm labor, HowGood presumes the worst conditions and searches for any explicit measures the company has taken to protect its most vulnerable workers, such as region-conscious sourcing policies, enforced standards and safeguards, and provisions for oversight.


For manufacturing labor, HowGood searches for red flags that might indicate systemic workplace abuse in the industry and company history. This includes forced labor, child labor, discrimination, harassment, compensation withholding, and aggressive anti-union tactics.

HowGood holds companies accountable for the labor conditions they endorse in every phase of their supply systems. So even if a corporation compensates and treats its American factory workers commendably, if their ingredients are sourced from abusive circumstances (e.g. a large portion of cacao from West Africa), the ratings will be negatively affected. Our labor and workforce standards align with Fair Trade certification requirements, which we recognize as a significant step in the right direction.

From a socioeconomic perspective, farming is an industry that is incredibly resistant to change. Slavery, feudalism, indentured servitude and other degrees of subjugation have evolved alongside agriculture for millennia. Today, of the more than 1.4 billion agricultural workers globally, over 50% are judged to be at high risk of exploitative work conditions. As a common factor, these scenarios offer laborers no recourse for abuse in workplace.