I doubt that there are many of us who do not recognize the increasing influence of big business that has been creeping into the political process over the last decades. The most recent election was a free for all when it came to campaign contributions, and for many of these contributions we the public are unable to even know who they came from. I don’t know about you, but to me something seems very wrong with this development in what is supposed to be a democracy. We the people. are supposed to be where the power comes from, not corporations who have plenty of cash to fund candidates.
I often write about the power that we do have, and that is when it comes to how we spend our money…where we shop and what we buy is a powerful force and one being recognized by the large companies trying to get our shopping dollars. Recently Starbucks has been opening new shops and not even calling them Starbucks to appear to be “local” coffeehouses, not corporate ones.
Shopping local is one way that we can support our local economies, farmers and artisans, and maintain diversity in our food choices and maybe more importantly really know what is in our food and other products that we use regularly.
Did you know that personal care and cosmetic companies do not have to tell us all of the ingredients that are inside the products that we use? They say they will be disclosing trade secrets. When you read “fragrance” on a label it is often synthetic chemical compounds (you can read more about this at The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics) that may be dangerous to our health. I think that we have a right to know. These secrets should not be allowed but since they are we can buy products that do tell us what we are putting in and on our bodies, and we can chose what we buy with more knowledge. You can learn more about what may be in the products that you use regularly by watching Annie Leonard’s The Story of Cosmetics.
We also can buy our food from local growers and ask them directly what they use as pesticides and if they use GMO seed. Most small farmers would never use GE (genetically engineered) seed since it is expensive, is designed to withstand more pesticides and farmers cannot use the seed that the plants produce at the end of the season. No one benefits except the big companies like Monsanto that produce this seed.
When we buy non-organic products we may be eating genetically modified ingredients and we have no way to know because the corporations that create genetically engineered seed have lobbied to not have to disclose this. Now we only know if the product says Non-GMO on the packaging. That seems strange to me…the companies using GMO’s don’t have to put it on their labels so now the ones that don’t use it are putting it on the label.
The Organic Consumers Association-OCA-has a new campaign called Breaking the Chains. “The campaign is focusing consumers’ attention on how each purchasing decision can lead to a safer, greener, and more equitable society. Millions of green minded consumers around the world have broken the chains of corporate control in their own lives, by supporting organic, Fair Made, and locally produced products and businesses.”
Read their Declaration of Interdependence and join the campaign to break free from corporate control of what we eat and use daily. Their web site explains why it is important to break these chains and how organic and shopping local benefits so many more than supporting big-box buying. This is where we consumers have so much power and it is up to us to use it.
So while the political process may seem to be driven less and less by we the people we can show the big corporations that we do have a voice and we will use it. In the end business is in business to make profits and we can show what kind of business we will be supporting from here on out. It is our choice, our dollars and our future…let’s make more conscious choices in all of these areas.