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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ethics at the grocery store Part 1: The Why

I know that the Holiday season is coming up, and I'm not really sure that this little mini-series is much going to put you into the spirit. It is what's been on my mind a lot lately. Maybe it's because, with all of the fun and fellowship that comes with the holidays, there is a disturbing level of consumerism that permeates the season, as well. Regardless as to why, I hope you'll take some time to consider the info in my next two posts.

I like to consider every dollar I spend a vote. A vote for the product I'm purchasing and everything that was involved in producing and delivering that product to me.

Or maybe I should say I don't like to consider every dollar I spend a vote, but I have to. To be honest, it would be much easier to live in ignorance of how that product was made and how it got to me. Then, I could buy whatever I wanted without giving a second thought about the hands that made it and the life of the person that is attached to those hands.

However, I call myself a Christian, and I can't seem to find a verse in the Bible that says: 

"Turn a blind eye to the injustices around you and continue to invest in those things that are responsible for that injustice. 
Unless, of course, its easy or convenient or makes you feel good."

Instead, I find verses like this one:

 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: 
to loose the chains of injustice 
   and untie the cords of the yoke, 
to set the oppressed free 
   and break every yoke? 
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry 
   and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— 
when you see the naked, to clothe them, 
   and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, 
   and your healing will quickly appear; 
then your righteousness[a] will go before you, 
   and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
   you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I."
 - Isaiah 58 verses 6-9

Ouch. I can't find anything in there about convenience or personal comfort.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about modern day slaves in America and a few ways Dennis and I try to avoid supporting slavery with our dollar.

Maybe it's because we lived in Guangdong province, China. I can barely go a day without picking up something that says "Produced in Guangdong, China." Or sometimes it will say the actual name of the city we lived in. Our city is sometimes referred to as "sweatshop city."

Maybe it's because of a book I read when I was in college called "The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical." This guy is radical and at times a bit out there, but the book changed my life and I have since been through many copies because I just can't resist giving it away.

Sometimes I wish I'd studied international law, so I could go off somewhere and help those people I feel so burdened for and so powerless to help. 

But, this here is my life, and I have to say that I really do love it.

So, I'll do what I can, spreading the word in my circle of influence and, whenever possible, using my dollars to vote for products that were ethically produced.

In my next post, I'll be getting a little more specific on some ways to do just that. There are a lot of labels out there, "Fair Trade", "Fairtrade", "Direct Trade", "Rainforest Alliance Certified", and countless more. I've done some research and I'll be sharing what each of these terms and more really mean on Friday (after we've all come out of our Turkey-comas).

Is the issue of human rights and modern slavery a new concept for you, or have you been fighting the same battles I have? What are some ways that you choose not to support slavery and sweat shops? Please share, I would love for this to become a discussion we can all learn from.

This post was shared at Simple Lives Thursday and Fight back Friday.


  1. I constantly struggle with finding a balance between saving money and being socially/ethically responsible with my money. It usually seems like the cheap things are the ones that are not so ethically produced. I don't know too much about what to do about it though. I am looking forward to reading your post tomorrow. Amy

  2. It's funny--the approach of Christmas has me thinking the same things. We vote with our money. How do we handle each vote?

    Good post!