After Wednesday's panicky post about how crop yields are maxing out and our planet is nearing an inevitable food shortage and zombie movies are going to make the upcoming chaos look like a Pixar joint, maybe it's a good time to take a few deep breaths and realize that everything is not all gloom and doom. There is some actual good news out there.
For example: Despite how it may look with the constant beating of the drum on issues like GMO labeling and factory farming, we're actually living in an age that should be full of optimism. That, despite the millions and billions of dollars that corporations have to throw around, it's ultimately the singles and tens that us consumers throw around that make the decisions.
That, change is actually happening. And it's change for the better.
As the Boston Globe details, Americans have been quickly becoming more knowledgeable about how their food is made. The mentality of "just give me the cheapest stuff and I'll shut my mouth" has been replaced by the actual reading of labels and signing of petitions to enact change. And corporations are being forced to take notice:
Earlier this year, for example, PepsiCo Inc. said it would stop using brominated vegetable oil in Gatorade and find a another way to evenly distribute color in the sports drink. Last year, Starbucks said it would stop using a red dye made of crushed bugs based on comments it received "through a variety of means," including an online petition, and switch to a tomato-based extract. Kraft Foods plans to replace artificial dyes with colors derived from natural spices in select varieties of its macaroni and cheese, a nod to the feedback it's hearing from parents.
In other words: We're winning.
The whole thing makes sense if you keep in mind that corporations, despite the feelings of the Supreme Court in their great, big, hilarious Citizens United misstep, are not humans. On a conceptual level, they are much closer to simple calculators than anything else. If the math says what they're doing is making as much money for them as possible, they will continue doing it. But if the math says what they're doing is actually costing them money, they will be forced to change it to something that will make them money. And if a large group of consumers no longer buy their products because certain ingredients are inside, they will be forced to find a way to remove it, or face the consequences.
It's Financial Darwinism, where only the products that are desired in a consumer-ruled world survive. It's pure monetary-based democracy, where one dollar (rather than one person) equals one vote. And while that "one dollar, one vote" concept may seem like it still favors the corporate CEOs who spend more on laundry services than you do on your mortgage, it only does if you put a single non-billionaire blue collar worker on the other side of the ledger. In reality, though, there are millions of us pooling our resources on that side. It's the boss vs. the unions, and we're sick of being exploited.
Which is a long way of saying: Your choices matter.
So, when you're out shopping for groceries this week, or picking out restaurants for the family reunion, or buying food-based gift certificates for stocking stuffers, know that your decisions make a difference. That all options are not created equal. That knowledge as a consumer is the strongest weapon you have. Because, all of that informed decision-making is working. The messages are getting through to the fat cats breathing rarified air.
We are changing the world. And we're doing it one receipt at a time.
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