Friday, October 22, 2010

We boycott Nestlé. I'm not even sure my husband knows why.

With two young kids who currently require lots of attention (hey, it won't be long before we're asked not to be seen in public within 200 yards of them, right?), my husband and I have limited amounts of time alone together or time to discuss anything very complicated.  Thus, I'm fairly certain my husband knows that we boycott Nestlé...but I'm also pretty certain he doesn't entirely know why or exactly what products that means I don't buy.

So, Love of My Life, this post's for you!

There are so many reasons to boycott Nestlé, and the only reason I've found to continue buying their products is convenience.

The biggest issue with Nestlé is their marketing tactics.  Nothing they make is, by any means, good for us.  And they make or are  associated with a LOT of products (not just things with the Nestlé brand on them - Nestlé owns or has part ownership of many MANY brands!).   Of course, there are a lot of companies that make unhealthy foods that I gladly buy.  I eat chocolate chips, cookies,  and ice cream with some regularity...and very occasionally even eat microwavable chimichangas and the like (which, by the way, are never as good as I think they're going to be...).  But the companies that sell me these foods have in no way made an effort to convince me that they are good for me!

Nestlé, however, has gone to great lengths to present their foods - especially those for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers - as a healthy choice.

When I first read the Nestlé boycott information that comes up with a simple Google search (namely here, and here), I have to admit that I had a completely myopic reaction.  I really am ashamed to say it, but I initially reacted with "I have too many other things to worry about - this company doesn't really impact me that much."  Plus, I have never used formula (the marketing of which is the number one reason for boycott that comes up with initial research), and I eat so little packaged food that cutting out Nestlé products wasn't an issue.  I thought "ah well, I'm boycotting without even trying!"

It is not true that Nestlé doesn't impact my life, nor is it true that I was already boycotting before I put in a little more effort...

How Nestlé negatively impacts my life:

There is an obesity epidemic in the U.S.  And blood pressure and heart disease are personal concerns of mine (and should be a concern of every family's).  All of these things are linked to processed food and sodium.  This impacts the health of my loved ones, it impacts my healthcare costs, and it impacts my taxes.  The marketing of these foods as healthy also impacts what other parents and schools feel it is appropriate to feed my children on a regular basis.  (Please note that I don't worry about my kids eating "bad" food occasionally, but I do dread the day I send them to school and they want to buy school lunch, or they want to trade with other kids.)

I learned not too long ago that Nestlé owns Gerber.

Over the summer, a lot of "Gerber Generation" ads started popping up on Hulu (which is the only way I see commercials anymore).  The first time I saw this commercial, my jaw hit the floor:

Say "hello" to the Gerber Generation.  They have some big news to share.  The nutrition children get in the first five years can effect their health forever.  Think about that.  Together, we can create a healthier generation.  And it all starts with you.  Welcome to the Gerber Generation.

Nothing in this commercial is actually false.  But it's clearly implying that Gerber's products can play a key role in "creating a healthier generation."  NOT SO.  The best single example of Gerber's disregard for the health of our children is the sodium content in their toddler meals, which are explicitly marketed as nutritious.
After repeatedly seeing the implied growth of an infant/toddler/preschooler on Gerber products - one packaged food to another, and then on to another (and then what?  On to Stouffer's brand frozen meals, which Nestlé also owns?) - I grew to hate the baby giggle at the end of the "Gerber Generation" commercials.  How sad is it that a baby giggle made me cringe???

What my family now avoids (are you reading this, babe?):

Finding out that Gerber was owned by Nestlé, and knowing about Nestlé's abhorrent formula marketing strategies in developing countries, and being fueled by too many hearings of the Gerber Generation theme song and that squealing baby giggle, I double-checked the list of Nestlé brands and found a few we did occasionally buy.

Those included:

-Haagen Dazs (Oh drat!  We have to buy Ben and Jerry's or the FANTASTIC local stuff available to us...) - and note that Edy's, Dreyer's, and Skinny Cow are also owned by Nestlé!
-Garnier Fructis (I just stopped using shampoo and hair products altogether, and I'm looking to make or just stop using any other skin and beauty items)
-Cheerios (this was such a rare purchase anyway)
-Carnation Instant Breakfast (I hadn't bought these in years, but now never will again!)
-Power Bars (again, hadn't bought them in years anyway)
-Butterfingers (Sorry, honey, you may not have realized you were forbidden from buying Butterfingers!)
-Wonka candies (another rare purchase)

We have one last product we have to cut out...
-Alcon contact solution!  (Poor Beast.  He had a hideous reaction to generic contact solution and, henceforth, we have stuck to a single brand.  It happens to be a Nestlé brand, though!)

If you want to boycott:

If you are bothered by the unethical business practices of Nestlé (there are more I haven't even discussed, but you can find out more by following my links), check out the list of brands (this is the most comprehensive I have found) and consider alternatives.  The alternatives are plentiful, and are similar or better in quality in almost every case!

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