The Top 10 Worst Corporations You Buy From Everyday
We all want to know what we are putting in our bodies: what is healthy, what our body needs to survive, and what will give us energy to make it through the day. There’s a growing concern about staying away from foods that contain GMO’s and are part of the mass food production. While we focus on these things when we are adding items to our grocery cart, we should also focus on the brands as well. There is a small handful of corporations that control the food industry. When you go to the grocery store, or run out quickly to purchase a food item, it more than likely comes from one of the corporations in that handful. It’s no secret that these corporations aren’t concerned about feeding the world population – they’re more interested in feeding their bank accounts. Greed and hunger for capital has caused many controversies with these corporations. The problem with having such little choice in decision making within the food industry makes it difficult for us to avoid foods that have been genetically modified, sprayed with chemicals, or have been at the centre of crime and controversy.
This is one of the reasons why we have to resort to finding ways to get nutrients back into our bodies as we discussed in one of our previous posts. We mastered a list of food-related list of brands we feel are the worst corporations – and we hope the list will help you make healthier and more conscientious choices in the future:
10. General Mills
Photo Source: Huffington Post
They were one of the most improved brands rated by Oxfam, but they still have a ways to go before they’re top notch. As a major influence on many consumers, Oxfam is pressuring them to set better targets and provide a better influence to help with climate change. Recently they were called out by the Huffington Post just after Oxfam released their report applauding General Mills for the efforts. The report gave General Mills a slap on the wrist for not owning up to their proposed efforts. Oxfam wants to see General Mills set new targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions – but also use their influence to call for climate action from other industries and governments, which they feel they haven’t done enough of.
9. ConArga Foods
Photo Source: Takepart.com
Packaged foods are always questionable. Packed full of preservatives and other chemicals, it’s always a gamble when you ingest them. ConAgra Foods is one of the biggest packaged food companies and also one of the worst for the environment. After being exposed in 2006 by the CERES for its lack of environmentally responsible behavior, it didn’t do much to turn themselves around. The report measured how 100 leading global companies are responding to global warming and were evaluated on a scale of 0-100. ConArga scored a total of 4 points. Aside from selling food that can stay on the shelves for months and even years, they lack an environmentally-friendly conscious as well, which deserve them a place on our list.
8. Associated British Foods PLC
Photo source: Marketwatch.com
Next time you sip on your Twinings tea you may want to think of the company and its ethics. In 2013, Oxfam claimed Associated British Foods: “Bad for assessing impact on producers, communities and the planet. Worse on supporting women and land rights. Bottom of the pile for climate change. Making progress on transparency and workers’ rights, but, overall, must try harder. A lot harder.” Associated British Foods was slapped on the wrist for several issues that make us wonder how a corporation like this can continue to sell their products and bring in such high profit rates. Furthermore, Actionaid targeted Associated British Foods for tax troubles in Zambia among their sugar plantation workers, discovering some workers were being paid 20% less than the government-bench-marked minimum wage. It’s rather mind boggling a company so profitable can allow this to happen.
Photo Source: Crackedcdn.com
A brand well known for their bananas which you can find in almost every grocery store, is a brand you might not connect with being corrupt. But it is… Chiquita has been involved in numerous corporate crimes dating back to the 1950’s. Known as United Fruit Company in the 1930’s, the corporation bought thousands of hectares of land in Guatemala with the blessing of Dictator Jorge Ubico. In 1954 a revised labour code took 40 percent of the land away initiating a coup d’état that overthrew the entire government resulting in over 30 years of civil war. All because of a fruit company. But that’s not it – In 2004, the New York Times reported Chiquita was accused of paying a right-wing terrorist group in Columbia to protect their plantations followed by providing funding to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, and leftist terrorist groups. A settlement was finally reached in 2007. It’s hard to fathom how one company could have such a vast history of crime, and yet we still pack their bananas in our lunches, and send our kids to school with a Chiquita banana in hand.
6. M&M / MARS
Photo Source: Treehugger.com
Cocoa, milk, and child labor. All the ingredients we look for in a chocolate bar. Wait a minute… M&M / MARS has been a target of Fair Trade activities for the profit they make from child labor. M&M / MARS brings in about 16 billion dollars a year, and yet, they still refuse to sell Fair Trade chocolate. While they have made recent efforts to monitor child labor and farming support, we still haven’t seen a Fair Trade certification. The pie chart below from 2002 illustrates that 70% of working children are employed in the agriculture industry with a large chunk associated with cocoa, coffee, cotton among several other crops. This gives you an idea of the darker side of chocolate.
Photo source: www.Americanbar.org
If we haven’t learned anything already, claims from a brand are not enough to reinforce trust. Until we see a certification badge on M&M / MARS products, can we really trust them?
5. Groupe Danone
Photo Source: Toxicfoods.info
Why are corporations so big? It’s because they’re full of secrets. Corporations like Groupe Danone for example, allow they’re consumers to fall victim of marketing schemes. You’ve probably had their yogurt before. Perhaps you’ve even enjoyed their very small portioned sized containers of Activia because you wanted to take advantage of ‘probiotic’ yogurt. The truth is, Activia’s probiotic yogurt was a scam. While you thought Activia was making your digestive system dance like the torso of a hula girl…it really wasn’t. The campaign marketed to consumers that DanActive helps to prevent colds and flu, and that one daily serving of Activia relieves temporary irregularity and slow intestinal transit time…it was a lie. But you can still purchase Activia in your grocery store.
4. American Cyanamid Co.
You would think by now we have learned our lesson with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Unfortunately, harmful pesticides and fertilizers sneak their way into our foods with the blessing of many corporations. Counter, a pesticide product of American Cyanamid Co. was sold to Costa Rica without warning of its fatal side effects. Warned to only be handled by someone wearing overalls safety glasses, a mask and rubber boots, the pesticide was handled by workers in Costa Rica in the late 80’s. These crops were then harvested and brought to US where people now fear side effects like cancer as a result. Throughout the entire period, American Cyanamid was well aware of the risks of these pesticides, and yet they still allowed it to be doused on crops and handled by workers. A scary situation that occurred in more recent years between 1996 and 2000. Another reason to be more aware of the produce you purchase. How do you feel about eating foods that have been coated in harmful chemicals?
3. Smithfield Foods
Photo Source:International Business Times
Nothing brings family to the breakfast table like the smell of bacon. Or a glossy ham waiting to be devoured on a dinner table… unless it comes from Smithfield Foods. Animal rights in the mass food production is a growing concern with any slaughterhouse. But let’s look at Smithfield Foods: each year they package about 6 billion pounds of pork annually. The problem with packaging this much pork is that you need a lot of hogs. Smithfield’s pack their hogs in tight. So tight that pregnant sows spend their lives shoved into a confined space that allows them very little movement. You’re probably wondering what happens to their waste. How does it get cleaned when there are so many pigs? Well, it travels through the slatted floors of the barns and into a ‘lagoon’ the size of two football fields. You can imagine the ingredients of these lagoons which sometimes overflows during rainfall. Aside from the treatment of the animals, the fluids and other particles affect the environment. In 1997 the company was fined by the Environmental Protection Agency after they were exposed for dumping 4.6 million gallons of hog fecal matter into North Carolina’s rivers.
A birds eye view of one of their Lagoons, Photo source: www.ethicurean.com
The following clip shows an undercover video of the upsetting treatment the hogs receive at Smithfield. Please be advised there are disturbing images in this video.
Another concern that arose were the low dosages of antibiotics given to the hogs to promote growth. Concerns that the antibiotics were contributing to resistant strains of bacteria were pressing on Smithfields hard, and they responded with a statement that said they would make half of their pork drug-free by June 2014 . Which makes you wonder if you consumed any of those antibiotics when you ate ham over Thanksgiving dinner.
Photo Source: Action.sumofous.org
Bottled water and milk products is where many of us most commonly see Nestlé’s logo. Nestlé is found in many places in your grocery, department, and convenient store. While it’s a common and convenient brand, it also has a terrible reputation. During the 1970’s Nestlé marketed their infant formula to underprivileged women in third world countries who struggled to pay for the formula and resorted to diluting it with unclean water resulting in malnourished babies. That’s right – Nestlé campaigned to women in third world countries who already couldn’t afford infant formula that breast feeding was harmful for their infants.
The case of water you buy from them every week, it also is part of controversy. The privatization of water itself is an injustice, but the tactics Nestlé goes through to get the water is outrageous: Find an economically weak region, buy the land surrounding the water resource, and capitalize on the profits. Countries including Canada, allow their water resources to be capitalized by Nestlé. Peter Brabeck, former CEO and now Chairman of Nestlé made an astounding statement that water should not be a human right.
We could focus an entire article on Monsanto that would go on for pages and pages. They’ve been in the press for a number of shady cases from putting local farmers out of work to their overly genetically modified crops. Their response to their bad behavior is simply that profit comes first. Seriously. But let’s stick to the basics and give you the bare-minimum low down. Monsanto could be coined as the king of genetically modified foods. Their ‘Roundup-Ready’ seeds were manufactured to resist pesticides and herbicides to ensure they stayed alive in a field that has been sprayed with Roundup (a product of Monsanto). They started the bigger is better game in the food industry and suddenly over-sized fruits and vegetables were over-taking the produce section of grocery stores. The over-sized foods have been linked to various diseases including cancer, diabetes and Parkinson. While Monsanto will shield off these accusations, feeding tests conducted on lab animals show the connection. Our biggest problem is avoiding Monsanto. Their products are found in many brands. Take a look at the chart below.
This gives you an idea of how little choice we have when deciding on products that do not come from Monsanto. The growth of their products across the globe has increased at a consistent alarming rate between 1996 and 2006. This puts pressure on both the consumer and the farmer, which doesn’t gives us much of a democracy when it comes to food…and with that note, makes it increasingly difficult to avoid GMO’s.
If you’re still wondering why Monsanto made it to number one on our list, this video might paint you a better picture. A brief history of the corporations ‘slip-ups’ and production process shows exactly why so many people are against them. There are several terrifying practices outlined in this video that displays our lack of choice when it comes to safe eating:
The 10 corporations listed above are brands we feel are the worst corporations because of the negative impact they have on us. When we shop for food, we don’t think about the chemicals, scams, loop holes and controversies, but rather we just see the food as fuel for our bodies and pop it in our grocery baskets. Many of the top food-related corporations are involved in various scandals that affect humans and the environment in negative ways. It’s important for us to learn more about what we are putting in our bodies and knowing not only how it affects us, but also other elements around us. GMO’s, environmental issues, labor rights, gender rights – they’re all issues we should look for when we decide to put trust into a brand. Next time you go out to grab groceries, see how many of the brands listed above fall into your grocery cart. Chances are 90% of them will. Which is rather alarming considering the issues stated above. Your health should always come first – and your food should be the first place you consider when you are trying to get healthy.
Behind the Brands – General Mills, http://www.behindthebrands.org/en-gb/brands/general-mills
Ben Grossman-Cohen, Kellogg and General Mills Should Come Clean About Their Climate Lobbying, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ben-grossmancohen/kellogg-and-general-mills_b_5453718.html
ConAgra Foods – Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ConAgra_Foods
Behind The Brands, Associated British Foods, http://www.behindthebrands.org/en-gb/brands/associated-british-foods/ryvita
Chris Jordan, Oxfam scores tax dodging Associated British Foods worst, http://www.actionaid.org/2013/02/oxfam-scores-tax-dodging-associated-british-foods-worst
1954 Guatemalan coup d’état, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_Guatemalan_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat
Chiquita Settles Case on Payments to Rebel Groups, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/15/business/worldbusiness/15bananas.html?_r=2&
Roger Ziegler, How Much Child Slavery is in Your Chocolate, http://www.examiner.com/article/is-there-child-slavery-your-chocolate
MARS Sustainability Report: http://www.mars.com/gcc/en/commitments/sustainability/cocoa-sustainability.aspx
Dannon Agrees to Drop Exaggerated Health Claims for Activia Yogurt and DanActive Dairy Drink, http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2010/12/dannon-agrees-drop-exaggerated-health-claims-activia-yogurt
Christopher Scanlan, Dangerous Exports — Pesticides Banned In U.S. Are Widely Sold In 3Rd World, http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19910610&slug=1288181
UN HUMAN RIGHTS INVESTIGATOR DEEMS U.S. EXPORT OF BANNED PESTICIDES “IMMORAL”, Earth Justice,
Emily Main, 10 Disturbing Facts About Pork, http://www.rodalenews.com/pasture-raised-pork
Tara C. Smith, MRSA in pork products: does the “antibiotic-free” label make a difference?, http://scienceblogs.com/aetiology/2012/01/19/mrsa-in-pork-products/
Joanna Moorehead, Milking It, http://www.theguardian.com/business/2007/may/15/medicineandhealth.lifeandhealth
Nestle’s wet dream: they mark up water 53 million percent, http://www.hangthebankers.com/nestles-wet-dream-they-mark-up-water-53-million-percent/