Earlier this week, I was talking to Loren Druz and Mario DiFalco of Del Monte. We were recording an episode of the Food For Thought podcast (You've checked it out, right?) and I mentioned to them that as I preparing for the interview, I surveyed the contents of my pantry to see which brands graced my shelves.
My pantry staples include a lot of vegetables, ancient grains, and more spices than I know what to do with. I have yet to meet a Taco Tuesday I didn't enjoy, so I also tend to have a can or two of black beans hanging out in there as well.
Last week, my colleague Pan Demetrakakes got a ration of heat for a news item we posted about the CEO of Goya Foods. We were posting a news story about a CEO's comments toward the President. We included tweets and we reported what we knew. What we didn't know when we posted it was how people would interpret our reporting. Suffice it to say, our names are probably hanging on a dartboard somewhere or our emails sitting in someone's email trash.
Mr. Unanue's comments had a tremendous ripple effect. A lot of people called for the cancellation of Goya Food products. In response, the President and his daughter both posed with Goya products, as if to say "You pat our endorsement back, we'll pat yours." As of yesterday, POLITICO is reporting that Senators are now requesting an ethics investigation over a picture Ivanka posted where she posed with a can of Goya black beans.
I'll spare the rabbit hole of lines crossed where, when, and how, but the call to cancel Goya products got me thinking about my own purchasing decisions. Do I buy products based on the politics of who makes them? Yes, actually. I do.
When I was reporting on the companies who were reacting to anti-racism, I took special notice of which companies were doing what... and those who weren't doing anything at all. I took a deeper dive into who made what products and I paid more attention to how they were choosing to allocate their dollars. The collective examination about the whitewashing of our shelves prompted me to change up who I'd support with my buying power.
Do I now only buy certain kinds of dairy products because of how their founders use the profits? I sure do. Do I deny myself adult beverages because of the political leanings of the person or people in charge of the company? I do, actually.
In a similar vein, I'm the creator of Influential Women in Manufacturing, which seeks to honor women who are effecting change in manufacturing. I've been very fortunate, through that program, to learn how hard it is to be a female founder amid a sea of male manufacturers. The women who have launched their own food and beverage companies are the ones whose products I seek out first. I'm firmly on Team Angie or Team Amy when I'm looking for a snack in the chip aisle. Ditto for those companies who help fund women-owned food start-ups.
I know not everyone is like me. I have many friends who could not care less about the politics of their chicken sandwich or their craft supplies, never mind who's at the bottom of their 7-layer taco dip. But for me, covering this industry like I do, my pantry has become political.