Nestle-Free Zone Week: October 26-November 1

Baby Milk Action, a UK-based organization that has consistently kept up the pressure for Nestle to practice ethical marketing of its products–most notably infant formula–is promoting a Nestle-Free Zone October 26-November 1, 2009.

If you aren’t aware of the reasons why the boycott of Nestle’s marketing of powdered infant formula has been going on for more than 30 years, with a slight gap in between of a few years before resuming again, go here or here.

(The company’s chocolate-making division, as well as its bottled-water division, have come in for great scrutiny of unethical, and in some cases outright abusive or morally repulsive, practices.)

Blacktating is organizing a boycott of Nestle candy during Halloween. I’m borrowing her list of non-Nestle made candy to repost here:

  • Hershey’s Kisses
  • Twizzlers
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Reese’s
  • Snickers
  • M&Ms
  • Mars Bars
  • Almond Joy
  • Whoppers
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Tootsie Pops

(More on GlobalExchange’s Reverse-Trick-or-Treat program here–this is where kids hand out little samples of fair trade chocolate to the people who give them candy to educate them about the conditions under which most chocolate’s made.)

I’m adding my own spin on the boycott: I’ve decided to not buy any Nestle brand candy to give out to children. Of the candy I do buy, I plan to send the empty non-Nestle candy wrappers of what gets eaten to Nestle’s U.S. corporate headquarters. It’s proof I made choices other than Nestle.

Brad Alford, Chairman and CEO Nestlé USA

800 N. Brand Blvd.

Glendale, CA 91203

Interestingly, this is about 10 miles from where I live.

Obviously, Nestle’s international headquarters in Switzerland is much farther away. Domestic postage it is.

I feel this is the best way to illustrate that I have other choices to make, and I plan to include a letter voicing my displeasure with their flouting of WHO and other international guidelines on milk supplements.

Mind you, this has nothing to do with choosing breastfeeding over formula. It has everything to do with promoting and marketing a product unethically in countries where the choice of formula can be deadly, in violation of local laws enacted to protect that country’s citizens.

I think there are other products Nestle can manufacture and sell for a reasonable profit instead of formula. They’re a large, innovative corporation with thousands of nutritionists and food scientists on staff. Perhaps they can work on offering, as this blogger suggested, vitamins or nutritional supplement bars to pregnant and lactating women, both in the US and in the third world. I’d be perfectly happy to see them offer a pro-social product like that and drop the formula marketing.

6 thoughts on “Nestle-Free Zone Week: October 26-November 1

  1. I think boycotting Nestle during Halloween is great, but how about taking it a step further and not buying ANY chocolate that comes from non-fair trade cocoa farms? Even Hershey’s and M&M/Mars have their hands in an unethical chocolate industry.

    I’m working on a post about ethics in the chocolate industry, but it’s not ready yet. However, you can read up on this thing called “Reverse Trick-or-Treat.” Here’s one article on it that’s nice and brief: Fair Trade Halloween: Reverse Trick or Treat!

    I know your post was only about Nestle, so I hope you don’t mind, I wanted to spread the word about this.

    • Didn’t mind at all! Thanks for the link, and I also did actually link to Reverse Trick or Treat in the post, but added it later (which you might’ve missed).

      I myself have a salty tooth, so that’s a whole ‘nother set of issues with regard to agribusiness and corn subsidies, I think. Luckily, there’s plenty of Newman’s Own organic popcorn to enjoy in a relatively guilt-free way while I wean myself off corn chips and potato chips, etc. (I love the organic blue corn tortilla chips…)

  2. Do you have reccomendations of good alternatives to Hershey and M&M/Mars as well? Looking for good fair-trade cocoa companies.

    • Ann, did you look at the chocolates listed under Global Exchange’s fair trade chocolate section? Here:

      I’m all for fair trade chocolates but I’m also unwilling to spend that amount of money on candy to give to strangers. So I bought hard candies and non-chocolate-y goodies to give out. At some point, I’d love it if we trained ourselves as a society to give out little inexpensive inedible treats, like pencils or cute erasers or other such items.

  3. This is unrelated to your post here, however, I saw a blog you wrote on Momocrats about CSAs and I had a question for you. If you were going to draft a tax credit for joining a CSA how would you want it structured? For instance would it be a percentage of the amount spent at the CSA, a flat rate, or something else?

    • Whew, sorry to reply so late. Erin, I think I’d make the tax credit or rebate apply to substantial investments in CSAs above $1,000. Maybe something like this?

      $1,000 to $1999 subscription, 10% tax credit

      $2000 to $3999 subscription, 15% tax credit

      $4000 to $6999 subscription, 18% tax credit

      $7000 and higher, 22% tax credit

      Look at it this way: to buy processed food mass-produced by factory farms at the supermarket costs an average family of 4 probably $500-600/month. Taking the upper range of that for guesstimation purposes, that’s $7200/year.

      Whereas if you sank $7,000 into a CSA and gotten organic produce, fruit, meat, eggs, and dairy from the farm, you would get a tax credit of $1540 AND you’d have eaten healthier all year long. Plus, you’d have reduced a lot of miles from the process of trucking food hither and yon via highway, thus reducing the carbon footprint of what it costs to move that food around.

      I’m just pulling numbers out of the air. But obviously, the more you subscribe (invest, really) in a local organic farm, the more you win nutritionally and financially. And who knows, maybe small to medium family farms could actually borrow less and stay afloat longer if they knew they had a reliable percentage of people who lived in their area who would subscribe.

      I can see more conservative people objecting already–isn’t this dangerous in the event of crop failure due to flooding and other natural disasters? There were terrible floods in the grain belt of America in the summer of 2008.

      While overstated, I do think this is a concern. I don’t know if it’s realistic to think that all agribusiness will diminish. Perhaps we could think of limited agribusiness in terms of a supplemental food supply, or as a resource for research and development as opposed to a primary food supply. Those are weak answers; I don’t have solutions for what an economy that emphasizes locavore-friendly CSAs and responsible agribusiness would look like. Is there even such a thing as responsible agribusiness, or are the economics of it inherently unsustainable?

      Wiser heads than mine surely have been pondering the problem, and this is about as far as I can go just pulling some interesting ideas out of my head at random. But I’m glad you asked.

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