So very recently it was discovered that a Cheerios factory had minors as young as 13 working there. One employee was a fifteen year child who was working past midnight. I actually contacted General Mills about this, and they gave some wishy washy response that they didn’t know that was happening and they don’t support that. My guess is they didn’t want to know and now it’s really inconvenient to have found out about it. Shouldn’t General Mills, a huge multi-billion conglomeration, inspect their distributors and manufacturers, especially if they care so much and are against hiring and assaulting minors? I’m sure they put so much pressure on their manufacturers both financially and time-wise that there wasn’t much else to do but to resort to illegal labor. In Iowa, this labor may not even be illegal soon! (And these proposed laws currently want to find companies inculpable if a CHILD working a dangerous job gets injured and/or killed at work. We cannot be okay with that.)
And you might say, oh no, as a vegan I only support the organic brands or something. Welp, just so you know General Mills also owns Muir Glen (the bougie tomato products sold at my co-op* which claims they only have ethical food. LMAO.), Annie’s Homegrown (make quite a few vegan products like cookies, mac and cheese and fruit snacks. Also sold at my “ethical” co-op.), and Cascadian Farm (at my co-op!). They also own Bisquik, Pillsbury, Progresso and Yoplait (my co-op would SHUDDER at the thought of selling those “unhealthy” corporate brands.). I’m not even going to list every single product/brand they actually own. My point is it’d be nearly impossible to do a full boycott. And even if you managed to avoid the HUGE list of stuff this company owns, you might still end up supporting them because they might manufacture some of the generic brands. And who are you going to give your money to? Are they actually any better? I know people were pushing for a Kellogg’s boycott a few years back, and while I completely stood behind the reasoning, and I think it did put some pressure on the company to quit hiring scab labor (at least temporarily. They could be up to the same BS now the spotlight is off them.), I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to participate. I think I managed to not have to buy my kid Morningstar products for the week or two it went on, but as a parent of an autistic child, it’s not always an option to quit buying a product. It’s like that way for a lot of people for many reasons!
And so you might say, no, no, no, I don’t buy any processed foods like that. I only shop the perimeter of the store. Well, organic or conventional, the agriculture industry is guilty of exploiting people. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/25/us-farms-made-200m-human-smuggling-labor-trafficking-operation Maybe you say you only shop at the farmer’s market. I know here our farmer’s market is more costly, and by a lot!, and I know there are certain farmers whose beliefs I find unpalatable and there’s no guarantee they aren’t exploiting labor (even the small farms have “farmhands”). I’m not saying buying products from the grocery store or the farmer’s market is any better or worse. I’m just saying I don’t see a way in our current environment to “vote with your money” as people like to say. I think it’s naive and ignorant to say that!
So while I do generally “boycott” animal products, and I have no intentions of stopping, I don’t say my food is cruelty-free. Honestly avoiding animal products is the easier thing for me, living in a decent-sized city and being financially stable. But my food does exploit human labor and I don’t know of a way individual consumers can buy their way out of it. We have to eat. Something has to be done large-scale. In my opinion, we absolutely need more regulations and they need to be enforced. We truly don’t have anti-monopoly laws.
*And I’m not trying to insult my co-op. I actually enjoy shopping there. I don’t think there’s much they can do when all these smaller brands keep getting bought out by these huge corporations!