Counting The Cost: Bandwagon Marketing Versus Authentic Core Values

June 10, 2011

I broke down this week and am now a card-carrying  Costco Member. Yep, these gas prices have risen to such a point, that Costco’s lower prices have lured me in.
So after I became a “club member” I thought I’d venture through the store to see their offerings. My seven-year olds were with me, and thought it was fabulous that they both could fit in the honkin’ huge cart. I sat for a few minutes in a Brady Bunch style lazy boy chair. I wasn’t seriously thinking of spending 300 bucks on it, but my decision was definitely a “no” when my son got his leg caught between the chair and the footstool.
After two hours, I escaped with spending $63.10 and for the first time, I questioned the term “organic.”

I bought ten packs of organic butter, which was about a buck fifty cheaper per pack (pound) than Whole Foods Market, my main grocery store for perishables. I calculated a $78 annual savings. I was going to buy a bunch of frozen organic vegetables, until I saw that the country of origin was China. I don’t know…that just doesn’t sit well with me…from Costco.

And I had three dozen organic eggs in my cart—for about fifteen seconds. I was calculating the $400 annual savings (we eat a lot of eggs) we would have by shifting our dollars to Costco. But there was something about the carton. As I examined the packaging, I realized that there wasn’t the informative story on it like the ones from the Amish and Mennonites of Farmers’ Hen House sold at Whole Foods.

Where’s the info about these eggs being from cage-free hens, allowed to go outside, not treated with antibiotics? I realized that for me, being “organic” was not just about the animal’s feed being grown without pesticides.  I want them to be well-cared for. I want food to come from real farms, worked by real farmers, and not industrialized factories by folks who could care less about what we put in to our bodies and what we do to the earth.

Have I been duped by good marketing?
Or is there really a difference?

As a Whole Foods shopper since the first store opened in Chicago in March 1993, I know that organic is not a marketing buzz word for them. It’s a core value.

Same thing goes for my supplement company, Nutrilite, whose organically grown plant-based supplements have been at its foundation for 77 years. Optimal health and excellent environmental stewardship– their core values before those phrases were coined.

And the company that bought Nutrilite in the ’70s,  Amway, is where I get my laundry and cleaning products. They’ve been “green” since  they started in 1959 with their first product, a biodegradable soap. They aren’t just now getting on the Green Movement bandwagon. The idea of taking care of the earth and not poisoning it and its inhabitants,  is a core value.

I want to support companies whose core values are in alignment with mine. While it’s tempting to save $500 a year buying butter and eggs from Costco, the question I must ask myself is: at what cost?

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