In a Boycotting Kind of Mood

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Yesterday I wrote about my personal Oprah boycott. I doubt it will amount to much, but it feels good to do something rather than just bitch on Facebook.

This week's column (not up yet, will post tommorrow) is about the Nestle Boycott. This week is World Breastfeeding Week. As I read yet another militant breastfeeding mom flaming yet another "formula has it's place" mom on Best for Babes, I thought about how we, as women, have allowed ourselves to be twisted into an ugly battle that has so little to do with us and so much to do with corporate culture and capitalism.

Face it. Formula is not evil. It has it's place in our society. But because it's considered a food and not regulated as, say, prescriptions are, marketing and media management are the key for companies like Nestle trying to make a quick buck from families. And Nestle knows what it's doing. It purposefully obfuscates the truth about things like DHA (it does no good and could do bad) and natural cultures in it's formula (in order to make sure formula doesn't contain deadly bacteria it has to be prepared or heated at high temperatures, yet Nestle directly states in the instructions for the cultured formula to not mix or heat above 40C) to make families feel like they are buying the "best" product, when truthfully it's all the same, just some costs more.

In this brave new blogging frontier, they've manipulated relationships forged online to create a pro-Nestle camp - offering some bloggers free products, trips, parties, etc to "inform" them about Nestle advertising practices (i.e. feed them propaganda to shout down the Nestle boycotters)

I've always been a half-hearted Nestle boycotter. I haven't bothered to print a wallet card listing all the Nestle products so I know not to buy them. I have been known to buy their Ice Tea, as well.

But as I researched this week's column - and trust me I looked at information from both sides - I realised that my half-hearted boycott just wasn't good enough.

So now I'm fully on the bandwagon. I'm practicing the list of Nestle products like I'm back in Grade Four prepping for a spelling test.

But, see, then what happened was I thought about their chocolate bars and I begin to look up some of my favourite chocolate bars to see who actually makes them - is it Nestle or someone else?

And I ended up stumbling upon things that I already knew but had convienantly pushed aside into a corner of my brain: that cacao harvesting is environmentally destructive, unsustainable and the furthest from fair trade imaginable. You thought coffee was bad, read up a little on chocolate!

So now I've decided to boycott all non-fair-trade chocolate. And I know it probably won't make an actual difference to companies like Nestle or Cadbury.

The thing is, it makes a difference to me. I hate being another crass consumer. I don't want to buy into the capitalistic, market driven mentality that says a buck is good but two bucks is better: increase production and cut costs no matter what the cost to people or the Earth.

I can't know the things I know and ignore them just because everyone else thinks that Wonderbar is wonderful.

And then there's my personal vow to never again shop at Toys R Us because they have the worst customer service known to man . . .

The great thing about these boycotts? Chocolate and Nestle products don't do my waistline any good. Toys R Us doesn't do my budget any good. Who knows, instead of these boycotts being a restrictive cross to bear they could lead to all kinds of good things!


  1. I recently watched a documentary about the children slave trade on these cocoa plantations, plantations that the big companies like caburys and nestle buy their cocoa from, in countries that they have representatives and so must have known about the problem. It was such a big problem that everybody non official that the docu maker spoke to knew about it but everyone official denied it, the companies, the countries government (I wish I could remember which one) and even though they had a film about it proving it Nestle refused them an audience, refused to listen to what they were being told.

    It was horrible, these children, as young as 7 were being taken from their families and forced to work picking cocoa, no money.

    I wish i knew the name of the documentary. It was in Finland and given a Finnish name and I couldn't find it in English on the net but it was a French guy and the commentary was in English.

    It was deeply disturbing, children being taken from their villages, smuggled across the border to another country and forced to work picking cocoa. the horrors they have to go through just so that we can eat chocolate. it made me question a lot of things, I'm still not sure of the answers.

    What the hell is wrong with us that we allow this sort of thing to go on, we ignore it just so we can eat cheaper chocolate?

  2. Sorry, i meant to say I watched it in Finland and so wasn't sure of the English name, not that it was a Finnish documentary - it wasn't.

  3. Hi, I am a Nestle boycotter too! I am a member of the NCT who support the boycott (we're not allowed to use Nestle products at NCT events and expenses claiming for any products made by Nestle are not reimbursed. And we can't have Body Shop parties (as it's 50% owned by Nestle). I wrote a guest post about it on Blog Up North a few months ago which is here http://blogupnorth.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/no-to-nestle/
    I am a serial boycotter too! I only eat free range or freedoom food reared meat, particularly chicken (and eggs of course). I boycott Phones 4U because I have boycotted Caudwell companies for a long time for reasons I won't totally go into. I also boycott Ryanair because O'Leary is an arrogant git and doesn't deserve a penny of my money. I've definitely got worse with age. When I was a student, I didn't see the point of boycotting South African produce but I suspect I would now.

  4. I keep trying to boycott Nestle products but there are so few alternatives over here. However I am going to try much harder.

    Add the possible extinction of orangutangs to the list, due to the excessive buying of Palm Oil which is grown in illegally felled rainforests.

  5. My family has been boycotting Nestle since the seventies. I am outraged at how corporations have so little regard for human life in their tireless quest for more and more $$$$$. It's disgusting.

  6. I boycott all things with palm oil and have just started boycotting nestle.


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