business news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), one MNB user wrote:

How long before a savvy marketer sees COOL labeling as a strategic advantage?

How long after that do you think FDA will block voluntary COOL labeling like they similarly did with BSE testing of beef by Creekstone Farms?

Such a move would seem entirely in character for the federal government. Unfortunately.

MNB user Neala Fogarty had some other thoughts about this subject:

My family is one of those consumers who want to know where their food comes from. Yesterday, my mother and I were calling and sending emails to various food corporations such as Jell-O, Coca Cola, Tree Top, etc inquiring about where the foods and the ingredients are coming from. We were assured by everyone except Coca Cola that their ingredients and products were coming from the U.S. Now whether one can believe that or not that's another story.

I went to my butcher yesterday to inquire where my meat was coming from. He informed me all of my meat was coming from cows in Texas and if I ate lamb it was coming from Colorado. Of course, he is an independent grocer. He agreed much of our meat is being imported and we are not being told. I live in Houston, Texas. It is getting ridiculous. You can't even buy candy that says made in the U.S. Nine times out of ten it says product of or made in China. If I wanted products from China I would live there.

We have become so complacent and the federal government is complicit in allowing it to continue all in the name of a profit. Someone needs to stand up and make all accountable. The only reason China executed its FDA chief is because he brought embarrassment to their country. We need a government that will take care of its citizens and not be more concerned with how much money or profit it will bring. The majority of us are against NAFTA, KAFTA, and what other free trade agreements are posed.

And, on a related subject, one MNB user wrote:

I wouldn't want to belittle the real threat posed by contaminated food from China, as well as fake medicines etc, but has anyone else noticed that the scare stories focusing on China alone are accelerating in the US media at the same time that the US government is up in arms about China's trade deficit with the US?

We had sort of a long discussion last week about the difference between individualism and collectivism – prompted by my comment that communities have an inherent right and even responsibility to regulate big box stores - and one MNB user had a follow-up:

I read with interest the nonsense from Alan Burris where he maintains that “there is no such thing as community” and puts forth the idea that any attempt to create a set of rules for the actions of individuals is somehow a plot by a bunch of politicians to “thwart” their citizens, “imposing their personal will” on everyone and preventing them from exercising the sacred right to do whatever they want.

Total utter rubbish, from both points of view. If we followed that argument, there would be no need for laws, no public works, no schools. You could gun your neighbor down in the street, and just shrug it off. You could feel free to dam the river, the hell with those downstream, to impose tolls on your sidewalk, to build a skyscraper in a residential subdivision, to strip mine the school yard and leave poison on the ball fields where other people’s kids go to play.

And of course, those have all been tried.

The idea of community is, essentially, synonymous with the idea of civilization. Human beings live in groups, and everything we do interacts and reverberates on one another. Resolving those competing points of views, those different individual desires, is what governments are FOR, and most of the people who espouse radical laissez-faire policies conveniently forget how everything from property rights to roads to police forces to corporate existence is a function of the collective will of the community as expressed through our government and our history.

Are politicians always right in their understanding of the collective community? Of course not. That’s why we invented elections. It’s a rather sloppy system, but it allows us to muddle through the more or less constant process of mediating between differing interests.

Individuals have rights. So do communities. And once in a while, we should remind ourselves that businesses, including big-box retailers, are both communities and individuals in their own right, with interests that are neither more nor less important than all the others in the high-wire act of trying to learn to live together.

Individual will is not particularly virtuous. Neither is the collective or community will. As the judge famously said, “your right to swing your fist ends at the end of my nose”. If community leaders and politicians are NOT able to mediate between competing needs, they are not doing their job. But someone certainly has to do that job.

Got the following email from MNB user Steve Williams:

Regarding today’s MNB mention of the McCafe concept not being rolled out in the U.S.: I discovered one a couple of weekends ago at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly VA. That and a regular McDonald’s are the only food concessions offered within the Center. The coffee was pretty acceptable in my opinion. The Museum itself is outstanding, so if you are ever in the area it’s a good excuse to check out the McCafe.

Thanks. I’ll do that.

We had an exchange of emails last week in which one MNB user talked about trying only to purchase food for this family that had its origins clearly labeled, and another MNB user saying that Wegmans is one of the best options for consumers having these concerns. Which led the original MNB user to write back:

Tell Mr. Byham that Wegmans is coming soon to my area, and my family will be regular shoppers. I'm a BIG believer in what Wegmans brings to the table for the consumer. It's too bad that more retailers cannot step up to the plate like Wegmans. I already have my Wegmans loyalty card.

MNB reported on a number of sales increases that were posted by major retailers during the month of June. One MNB user responded:

Did anyone consider the rise in prices to influence the sales of these companies to rise...The retail price per item is definitely on the rise along with gas prices which makes these numbers to me seem overstated...

A good point.

We reported last week that there are now more 7-Elevens than there are McDonald’s in the world, and I commented: ”Some would call this a triumph of mass marketing. I, being an admitted food snob, would call it a harbinger of the end of western civilization.”

Which prompted one MNB user to write:

Food snob or not, we all know that 7-Eleven, McDonalds and Subway ARE Western Civilization!

Makes me want to cry.
KC's View: