Monday, 29 October 2012
It has been a while since I spoke about Nestle, but it's Nestle Free Week and that’s almost as good as a hand written invitation in this house.
I have lost count of the number of times my children have been offered a box of Smarties, or a Milky Bar by well-meaning relatives. I choose to believe that people continue to offer them because they don’t notice that these products are made by Nestle rather than any underhand attempt to undermine our parenting choices.
I can understand the appeal of these products, and that it is sometimes hard to spot the endless stream of Nestle brands. Keith was caught out by Fruit Pastels – not literally, they didn’t wait round a street corner and mug him as he walked past – because it’s easy to let your guard down.
So the big news is that Nestle are in trouble again over shady dealings. This time it is in the Philippines, where they want a law passed which will make it easier for them to pretend that their baby milk is a superior choice to breastmilk. The Philippine's Department of Health, WHO and UNICEF issued a statement on 1st September condemning the proposed law, saying it:
"aims to support multinational companies while damaging the Filipino society: families, the mothers and children".
So what, right? So a baby is fed on formula rather than breastmilk, never did our nearest and dearest any harm. It may surprise you to know that I myself was a bottle fed baby.
The difference is we live in the western world with access to clean water and affordable formula. We also live in the part of the world where we have the privilege of being able to make consumer choices about the corporate behaviour we support.
So this week, I just want you to think about what your purchasing choices really say:
When you buy a box of Smarties, your money is saying that it is OK for a company to starve babies for profit.
When you drink a cup of Nescafe your money is agreeing that dirty water is a better choice for a newborn that sterile breastmilk.
When you tuck into a bowl of Cheerios your money is supporting the idea that families living in abject poverty should spent over 90% of their household income on expensive formula.
The babies that are dying are healthy babies, born to mothers who but for corporate aggression could easily feed them. These are babies who aren't dying from illness, or accident, but from the greed of a corporation.
And here’s the kicker: The only thing you have to do to help change this evil is to shop a little differently.
How simple could it be?