Let’s face it. We live in a society where consumption is a natural part of our lives. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are consumers and as consumers, we deserve stability. But on any given day, we may turn on the TV and find out that one of the products we use on a regular basis has been recalled. Or worse, there’s been a call to boycott companies we frequent most due to shady practices.
Let’s start with the recent multistate outbreak of salmonella poona linked to imported cucumbers. Known to many as a low-calorie vegetable, the cucumber is actually a fruit that is supposed to have many health benefits. Studies have even shown that cucumbers contain anti-cancer compounds. But now they can kill us? This is unacceptable. Not only for the obvious reasons but because the cucumber is a staple on my salads and sandwiches, and I love putting them in water. Well, make that “was” and “loved.”
Speaking of water, it is one of the most important entities to maintain human life. Therefore, you would think our access to safe drinking water would be handled with priority and care by the companies that provide it. We have been told to stop drinking the water from our faucets unless we have some sort of purifying agent because the tap water has been found to have lead poisoning and bacteria that can make us sick. So many people turn to bottled water as a solution.
Yet, in June, over 14 companies that provide bottled water recalled their products due to E. coli contamination concerns. Acadia, Acme, Big Y, Best Yet, 7-Eleven, Niagara, Nature’s Place, PriceRite, Superchill, Morning Fresh, Shaws, ShopRite, Western Beef Blue and Wegman’s all frantically pulled their water off of shelves. But the damage was done. I used to buy a large bottle of water from 7-Eleven pretty much every day. It has been four months since the recall, and I still wouldn’t touch that water with a stick, let alone purchase it. Absolutely not.
Recalls continue to happen for everything from our cars to lamps we’ve bought from Ikea. No one is safe. Not even the babies. Precious Cargo recalled 479,000 onesies due to a choking hazard.
The lack of stability in the products many companies are selling to the consumer is only half of the issue. Big businesses are now buying into the cash cow in the form of American penitentiaries. Slavery, in fact, still exists as inmates are doing hard labor so that we consumers can have the products we seek. Out of the more than 2.3 million people incarcerated in the States, 1 million of them are African-American men and women. Working an average of eight hours a day and making at the minimum, 23 cents a day, our favorite companies are receiving major tax breaks. They are employing prisoners, paying them less than minimum wage, and charging the consumer triple what the product cost to make. The prison industrial complex is new age slavery at its absolute (and despicable) finest. Prisoners are still human beings who not only have legal fees but still have bills to pay, fines to satisfy, and families to provide for. And upon release, the hard labor they’ve done does not boost their resume, but rather, limits it because of the location where they worked.
But ya’ll don’t hear me, though.
Whole Foods, McDonald’s, Walmart, Victoria’s Secret, AT&T, BP, Microsoft, Nike, J.C. Penney, Macy’s, Honda, Nintendo and so many other companies that we give our money to have bought into slavery in the modern age. And as consumers, we deserve better. We deserve to have quality products that won’t jeopardize our lives and bastardize our incarcerated brothers and sisters. And while I can appreciate the products and foods provided at Whole Foods and the sales at J.C. Penney, carelessness and greed should never be an option when dealing with human lives.