Behind the Brands is part of the GROW Campaign from Oxfam. The GROW Campaign "aims to build a better food system: one that sustainably feeds a growing population (estimated to reach nine billion by 2050) and empowers poor people to earn a living, feed their families, and thrive."
Behind the Brands is a new initiative that aims to get consumers involved in what large food companies are doing. They rate companies based on their transparency, treatment of women, worker treatment on farms in their supply chains, the farmers, the land, the water and the climate. They then communicate the information to consumers and ask consumers to speak up and hold companies accountable for what happens along their supply chains.
The website has interesting information about which companies own which brands, and it's great that Oxfam was able to use a ton of publicly available data and organize and distill it down so that it makes clear a larger picture of what's wrong with our food system. And I'm a firm believer that the food choices we make matter beyond their nutritional makeup - ethical choices are important.
One of my hesitations behind this initiative is that I feel like it's indirectly supporting these companies. I know it could be argued that Mars as a company is not going away because I choose not to buy M&Ms, and that many people across the world depend on that company for their livelihood, but I still won't support the company with my money for making baby steps in one area while completely ignoring others.
This program also cannot score companies based on the actual conditions that exist on their farms and in their supply chains or the actual treatment of workers on a day to day basis because of the companies' confidentiality. They can only be scored based on their corporate policies. This makes me highly skeptical of what kind of impact this campaign could ever really have on the day to day lives of the people it hopes to impact. I have never worked at a job in my life where the company's corporate policies were a match for my daily work environment. How about you?
It will be interesting to watch this initiative play out, if it stands the test of time. At the very least, a call for consumers to demand better from the companies that supply our food is something we should all get behind.