Opinion: Food companies must follow Ben & Jerry’s lead and be transparent about their politics

Although consumers tend to separate what we eat from the people who farm, process, and sell these goods, everything including the food we consume is political. On October 30, 2018 Ben & Jerry’s launched a new politically charged flavor Pecan Resist, a “campaign to lick injustice and champion those fighting to create a more just and equitable nation for us all.”

Ben & Jerry is on the side of social justice considering their long history of supporting issues of racial justice, democracy, and climate justice. More food companies should openly support politics siding with democracy that improves the social good of its citizens rather than harm them.

Some would argue that food companies are transparent about the stances they take. Look at any food company’s “about us,” and you can see where they stand if you read between the lines. Chick-Fil-A, a company that was notorious for donating nearly $2 million to anti-gay groups, has a whole section on why they are closed on Sundays and for some people that is transparent enough. However, if companies were transparent, lobbyists would not use their knowledge of food policies to push regulations that affect taxpayers’ physical health via increasing work hours to dodge the Affordable Care Act, advocating for less restrictive rules, and they certainly would not exclusively donate to republicans secretively.

Food companies will not lose substantial money when people know where they stand. In-N-Out donated $25,000 on August 30 to the republican party and some Twitter users created the hashtag #BoycottInNOut to voice their concerns but majority of people still eat at In-N-Out, Chick-Fil-A and any other restaurant despite protests. If you ever want to see transparency make a company more money look no further than Nike. Despite protests, the company has seen a “31% in online sales” since their open support of Colin Kaepernick, who protested the national anthem.

Companies already operate under the “trust the company” mantra. Chipotle is antibiotic-free becoming the “first national restaurant chain to go GMO-free” and it caused some backlash for being anti-science, but people trust the company. Scientifically, “trusting the company” is not enough because a “little known” company called Monsanto created one of the most vile weapons on our planet, Agent Orange which killed and disfigured millions of Vietnamese people. Visit Monsanto’s website and search for information from them discussing Agent Orange instead of consumers. What you will find are references that they were found of no wrong doing.

Trusting companies to provide our agriculture and food without transparency is unjust and ignores how food is political in not only the food we consume but our physical health. All food companies should promote just and fair politics because it is the right thing to do and that will ensure that consumers have an opportunity to eat, drink, and purchase ethically.

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