Some people speak as if corporations exist in a higher dimension where they don’t have any social responsibility other than selling products and making money. May I politely disagree? Thank you.
PepsiCo Global Beverages Chief Massimo D’Amore recently said the following while interviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek: “We have lost perspective here on the primary reason we are in business, which is to make money.”
I posit that corporations have lost perspective and now focus entirely on increasing profits at any cost to workers, the environment, and whatever/whoever else stands in their way. Do corporations have a social and moral responsibility? The answer is unequivocally and enthusiastically YES!
Critics of food activists are quick to point out that individual people have the responsibility to act for their own good and it shouldn’t be up to corporations to police consumer behavior. I agree! Shocked? You shouldn’t be. Individual people do have a responsibility to act in their own interest. Especially if that means purposely not choosing to eat at a fast food restaurant even though the desire exists. Should corporations scan your ID tag and check to see if you’ve already met your Big Mac quote for the month? I don’t think so. So how should people and corporations share “responsibility?”
Right now the responsibility is not shared equally. Not by a long shot. Big agribusiness falls short of their responsibility and tries to pawn it off on the consumer.
Does the average Joe or Jane in America have a personal multi-million dollar budget to help them figure out what is healthy food a midst the constant bombardment of food advertising? Of course not, that’s silliness. But the food corporations certainly do have the multi-million dollar budget to mold your eating desires. McDonald’s alone spent close to $1 BILLION on advertising last year. It’s easy for a corporation to demand that all individuals act similarly in their ability to resist advertisements. If advertisements weren’t hard to resist, why would they continue to be in use? Right now, the consumer is the David to Big Ag’s Goliath. But remember how that story ends?
Not all people have high school or college educations and read about food policy every day. Not all Americans can make truly informed decisions on a daily basis. Not many Americans feel they can afford to eat healthy food. A lot of Americans are, quite frankly, addicted to fast and processed food. It’s easy for a corporation to hide behind the motto “everything is fine in moderation, there are no forbidden foods.” This is known as a “smoke and mirrors” statement. Corporations are hiding behind slick phrases and conjured up images of responsibility as they retreat further into the shadows of pushing unhealthy food on the public. Corporations want to use the “I’m only the dealer” defense. It doesn’t work in a court of law and it shouldn’t work in the courtroom of the American public.
I challenge you to ask yourself “Are corporations really going to change?” I don’t know the answer. I can keep asking for change, but I’m not going to continue supporting the current system. I’m going to subvert the system and support local farmers and producers. I’m going to share responsibility and grow more and more of my own food.