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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe, and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, available on iTunes and brought to you this week by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.

“I’d rather be lucky than good,” Dizzy Dean once said. And while I’ve always sort of embraced that phrase as emblematic of my entire career, in the larger sense, being lucky isn’t good enough. Not when the technological advances of the world in which we live makes us all pretty much transparent to practically everyone. You might as well be good, because if you’re bad, people are going to know about it.

There was a piece in the New York Times the other day about a new application developed for both the Internet and iPhones called Good Guide, which “lets consumers dig past the package’s marketing spiel by entering a product’s name and discovering its health, environmental and social impacts.”

In other words, you can't get away with being bad anymore. You have to be good. And the very existence of Good Guide, according to the Times piece, has prompted some manufacturers to be more transparent about what goes into their products. Speaking as a consumer, I think that’s good.

Now, I realize that knowing that you might get caught isn’t the best reason for doing the right thing or the good thing. But if that’s best reason you can come up with in the conduct of business, I think it ought to be enough.

If you look at some of the recent food safety crises that have centered on products ranging from pet food to peanuts, it isn’t hard to see that they can be traced back directly to people who tried to cut corners, who didn’t worry about doing the right or good thing, and who thought they could get away with it.

Again, I say this as a consumer: Not anymore.

I also think there is plenty of evidence out there that doing good is good for business. Think about Wegmans’ long-term commitment to its Work-Scholarship Connection, or how Walmart has turned around its fortunes since getting on the right side of the sustainability issue. Think about products ranging from Newman’s Own to Stonyfield Farms to Ben & Jerry’s have basically captured market share by representing some level of goodness beyond the importance of the bottom line.

Now, I’m not arguing that, like Newman’s Own, we should all donate all our after-tax profits to charity. Far from it. But I do believe that while goodness ca be its own reward, many customers want to patronize companies and people that perceive as being good, or being right on the issues that they care about.

This is, by the way, an area to which CIES – which currently is holding its World Food Business Summit in New York – has long been committed. It was years ago that CIES commissioned a study to see if it could quantify and qualify exactly what benefits, both tangible and intangible, supermarkets bring to local communities all over the world, and the results were illuminating. And, through programming that goes beyond the simple “here’s how to be more efficient” messages that so many meetings stress, CIES seems to have an unusual sense of the broader world in which we all operate.

The Times also had a fascinating piece the other day about how a number of highly accomplished and well educated chefs “are applying their creativity and commitment to serving the lost and needy. They are working at food banks and shelters,” the Times writes, and about 40 trained chefs – twice the number of a decade ago - now work at 28 food banks affiliated with Feeding America, a Chicago nonprofit.

I think that’s good.

Now, a cynical person might suggest that at least some of these chefs have nothing else to do, that the recession has not treated them kindly and that they needed an outlet for their expertise and skills. That may be true…but the article suggested that this is more than just a passing fancy, but rather is an abiding and deep commitment to a humanitarian cause.

However deep this commitment may be, we know this. It will be transparent, and one way or the other, people are going to know about it.

Which may not be the best reason to do the right thing or a good thing. But it is a good start.

For MorningNewsBeat Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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