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I vote every time I enter a supermarket

I just read in the news that Nestlé is pushing to control public water resources. The video below explains what this means, showing what happened in Oregon. 10 years ago, I might have not paid attention to this, because I have water coming out of my tap and shower. But, after having learned about “feet voting” during my college time, it’s impossible to ignore. What’s “feet voting” about?

To give you a clear answer to this question, we need to talk about our supermarkets. I always thought that a supermarket is a great place; loads of delicious foods and cool cosmetics available at our convenience. They sometimes even offer free food samples and coffee. I loved to wander around and check out the new products. A supermarket may have over 10.000 products, and, -what we all need to realize is that- about 80% of all products come from huge, international corporations like Nestlé, Proctor & Gamble, Danone, Unilever, Coca Cola and L'Oréal.

These international corporations have control over supermarkets. They set the price, decide when to give discount, buy extra shelf space in the store, buy space in the store for publicity. These corporations turn great profits, and spend millions to make sure people keep buying their products. This means that smaller, local producers without this budget don’t stand a chance against these dominant corporations.

How does this impact us? Let’s assume that, in one supermarket trip, I buy 30 products. 24 products will be from huge corporations, 8 of these might be from Nestlé. Now, Nestlé earns a profit, and spends it in any way they want. That OK, it’s the purpose of a company. However, the corporation in this case has a lot of power worldwide, and earns billions of euros of profit every year, Nestlé can spend this enormous amount anywhere, without having anyone control them.

So now, if Nestlé wants to make water resources private, it’s not OK. Nestlé is already spending their money pressuring communities to give up control of their water, that’s not OK. At the World Water Forum in 2000, Nestlé successfully lobbied to stop water from being declared a universal right. For Nestlé, this means billions of euros in profits. For us, it means paying up to 2.000 times more for drinking water because it comes from a plastic bottle. We are not obliged to buy water bottles. But, marketing makes us believe we do. Why otherwise does every supermarket contain a full ail selling bottled water? Why is this a €30 billion business? Because we continue buying it, not knowing it’s worth and true cost.

There are no authorities controlling what these big corporations are doing. So, it’s up to us -the shoppers-, to open our eyes, inform ourselves, and buy from producers we trust that have our same values. Our money, which we work hard for, has the power to influence. It matters where we spend it.

So, going back to “feet voting”. It means that when we enter a supermarket (and buy here), we are voting and giving power to the corporations present here. I try to avoid supermarkets, because the choice they offer me is often limited. Buying a yoghurt, I find myself having to choose between Nestlé or Danone, and I don’t want to vote for manipulation, lobby and privatization of human resources. I want to vote for honesty and transparency. This is why I started to shop as much as possible at zero-waste shops and co-operations like Färm or TransiStore. These kind of shops prioritize transparency, honesty, co-operation between producers and buyers, and fair pricing at the best quality.

With this article, I hope we start informing ourselves better about the products we buy, who owns them and how they are made. Because it has an impact and it matters.

Here is the video showing what happened in Oregon.

Nestlé's activities sparked opposition and protests at every step as it would dramatically impact the community and neglect the treaty-protected fishing rights of local tribes.

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