Monday, July 2, 2012

In A Pickle

I've noticed over the past couple of months that the pickles I buy haven't been available. I didn't think that much about it. They're an Israeli brand, Eskal, and I figured that maybe they just weren't selling that well.

One of my friends posted on Facebook the other day that she was annoyed she could no longer get the same brand of pickles. She, however, had actively sought out places to buy them and found that they are being boycotted, presumably for political reasons.

I have no problem with boycotts whatsoever. This, however, reminds me of a scene from the 1980's movie, 'Crocodile Dundee' in which a mugger pulls a knife on the main character who responds by pulling out a much bigger knife and declaring, "That's not a knife. THIS is a knife." Boycotting a brand of Israeli pickles isn't a boycott. If the stores were really serious about human rights they'd be boycotting Nestle, Coca-Cola, L'Oreal and Proctor and Gamble. If they were really serious they'd be boycotting all goods made in China. THAT would be a boycott.

There have been calls for boycotts against all of the above-mentioned companies. According to the Ethical Consumer Guide, Nestle markets powdered baby formula in countries with unclean drinking water thus increasing infant mortality, use child labour, have a poor record on human rights and pollute. Coca-Cola has been criticised for the kidnapping, torture and murder of union leaders from their bottling plants in Colombia and has exposed local residents to polluted water in India which has resulted in shortages of drinking water. Let them drink coke, right? L'Oreal and Proctor and Gamble conduct painful and deadly tests on animals. Furthermore, L'Oreal is partly owned by Nestle anyway.

If the products of any or all of those companies were removed supermarkets shelves it would have a much greater economic impact than just removing a few cans of pickles. So, how serious are they really about human rights?

I understand that it's not about the brand, Eskal, who haven't been implicated in any human rights violations; it's about the country of origin of the brand and the perceived track record of that country. Okay, let's talk about China, shall we? Removing items made in China from supermarket shelves wouldn't have as big an impact as removing Nestle and Coca-Cola. Remember, however, that Coles is just one of the stores in the Wesfarmers group. What if Target and K-Mart removed items made in China? I guess the stores would be completely empty. The same goes for the Woolworths group in relation to Big W. Since industry in China is government owned a boycott against items made there might have a bigger impact than removing Eskal pickles.

Until the stores boycotting Eskal pickles show they're serious about human rights across the board I wouldn't call this a boycott, I'd call it anti-Israeli tokenism.


  1. Jesus, what a post! This is a personal eye-opener for me, like the day back in the 70s when the Ohio River caught on fire(!), and a lot of people suddenly realized that maybe there was something to this pollution business after all.

    Trouble is, with all these mega-corporations and shadow companies that own each other, and trade brandings around like currency, I worry that if I say, for example, that I'm going to boycott everything from just those places that you name above, if I start following paper trails, will I not eventually find their fingerprints on everything that is offered for sale on earth? Nestle? Coca-Cola? MADE IN CHINA? How in God's name do you get away from those products? And that's just the tip of the iceberg; it almost seems like the movie's over and the bad guys have already won...

    1. You're right! They pretty much do have their fingerprints on everything and it's changing daily. Things I could buy one day, I can't buy the next. It's crazy and there are days when I wish we'd never started this and I could just go to the store and shop in ignorance as I always had.
      The bad guys are definitely winning but I'm going to take a small personal stand anyway. There's no going back now - I know too much...