Democracy in the Grocery Aisle?

April 3rd, 2015

Commentary by Will Fantle

Source: iStock

One of the more interesting takeaways from the state-based battle to enact GMO food ingredient labeling has been the deluge of money that Monsanto, their biotech allies, and Big Food corporate interests have been willing to spend to drown out your right-to-know about what you are putting in your mouth. Cornucopia’s research reveals that these supporters of ignorance have collectively showered more than $100 million on the four state referendums to date, in California, Washington, Colorado and Oregon.

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Citizens United, whatever constraints existed on corporate spending in elections have evaporated. Although state referendums are a different electoral animal, the willingness of corporate power to spend all that they need to prevail has been fully demonstrated. They have juiced the system and tilted electoral power in their direction.

While Monsanto and their allies have thus far proven successful—albeit narrowly in three of the four states—the handwriting may be on the wall. Good food activists are growing increasingly aware that they hold power in the marketplace that even the corporate behemoths must respect.

It is somewhat ironic that democracy may break out in the marketplace while it is being squelched at the ballot box. Clearly, the biotech forces and Big Food need us to buy their products in our consumer society. Yet in spite of their sophisticated, expensive advertising and packaging, increasing numbers of conscious consumers are doing their own food and product research (fueled by help from organizations like Cornucopia).

Using their heightened awareness and their focused purchasing power, these savvy eaters are forcing companies like Kashi (owned by Kellogg), WhiteWave, Organic Valley, Kraft, and Stonyfield to make healthier changes to products. Why? For the most part, these companies are terrified of how their investors and/or Wall Street will react and punish them for unresponsive arrogance and diminished sales.

Amplify your power as a conscious eater. Investigate our various food and commodity product scorecards (visit www.cornucopia.org), and then share this information and the related web links with your social network. This research is regularly updated so that you and your friends can make the best “vote” in the marketplace.

This story originally appeared in the spring issue of The Cultivator, The Cornucopia Institute’s quarterly print publication available to members and online

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