The food industry is very complex and I was astonished at the amount of ethical issues I found, ranging from government-issued agriculture subsidies to the treatment of animals. There were a number of different players in the food industry that are to blame for the health and environmental concerns that the food industry has created, but I decided to target food retailers in general. Continue reading
In the past, people did not generally analyze the consequences of the food they ate, but recently, more and more people have been considering the potentially positive or negative effects of food. The ways in which food is grown, produced, and manufactured has been looked into more than ever and there is more emphasis on the “organic” types of food because they are seen as healthier. Whole Foods is a company that tries to be ethically sound in the production and sale of food. They sell organic foods but also carry main staple items that are found in regular grocery stores, so that people can one-stop shop there. Whole Foods is in the business of promoting “less processed, healthier, more sustainable food” (Koehn, Miller, 2007). The business has been steadily growing in the recent years, which shows society’s newfound emphasis on being healthy and eating food that is more “ethical.”
I was quite embarrassed when I went to the library and did not know how the call number system worked. It is crazy to think that a majority of my college research has been from online sources and very few paper books or journals. The Internet has almost entirely removed tangible books from my personal research for papers and that is a huge shame. Luckily when I was looking for a book to fit my topic a friend of mine who works at the tech desk led me in the right direction.
The Bertrand Library catalog held a surprisingly large amount of material on my main paper subject of Walmart. Many authors have gone into great detail about the monstrosity that is Walmart. Walmart in China by Anita Chan was published by the Cornell University Press and copyrighted in 2011. Chan uses interesting terminology like “Walmartization” and makes claims like, “Walmart’s colossal size enables it to affect the agenda of world production and trade.” I feel it will be of great aid to my paper on how Walmart destroys small businesses to use her research for she digs deep into the company’s growth around the world. The footnotes she uses as well have given me other sources to use since a majority of them are from useful publications like the Wall-Street Journal and the New York Times. Although the experience of searching for a useful book started off slowly, the resulting findings were well worth the trip.
For my paper two, I decided it would be a good to look into Starbucks and the Fair Trade Coffee industry. I was fortunate enough to find multiple books in the library’s stacks that could help me with research for my paper. I used the library’s catalog search and browsed several titles on fair trade and coffee. I found several books with information on particular fair trade countries. However, it thought these books would not carry enough information on the research I was trying to conduct. I decided to go with the book “Fair Trade Coffee: The Prospects and Pitfalls of Market-Driven Social Justice” by Gavin Fridell. Having had to search for books within the library, it didn’t take me long to find out the book was on lower level 2.
The book’s author Gavin Fridell is an International Development Studies professor at St.Mary’s University in
It was quite surprising listening to the “Retraction” of Mike Daisey’s original podcast about his experience during his visit to China. In the broadcast of “Mr. Daisey and Apple,” Daisey is very persuasive and believable. It is clear from the “Retraction,” however, that he greatly enhanced his stories and stated many lies. By presenting his story as a product of journalism rather than merely a theatrical piece, he deceived thousands of people. His performance was such a strong, dramatic theatrical piece and it made me feel like I was there in China seeing these things with my own eyes.
Maybe it made me feel this way because this is what I wanted to see. Mr. Daisey’s use of theatrics during the original podcast confirmed my previous beliefs and preconceived notions of both China and Apple. This was most likely Mr. Daisey’s main intention: to further persuade China/Apple skeptics that Apple is an unethical company and turns a blind eye when it comes to labor. Moreover, Mr. Daisey further gratified my curiosity, and probably many other peoples’, when he alluded to the eeriness in China. This aspect of China is one that I strongly agree with and even experienced first hand when I visited in 2010.
Although Daisey blatantly lied and exaggerated his story, I still believe that his original podcast is an important piece. It is important to raise awareness about the working conditions in China, although it is difficult to know what is fact and what is fiction in China, ironically the same issue that Daisey faces in his broadcast on The American Life.
Daisey attempted to mold his opinions into real-life experiences and in turn he convinced people to believe his opinions and experiences. As I have stated, I agree with Daisey’s opinions of Apple and China. However, after I listened to both podcasts and learned that his story is untrue, I have realized that maybe other stories and accusations against Apple are untrue as well. Maybe other people, because of their strong opinions…whatever they might be…have created stories and accused Apple of things that are not true. Maybe Apple is not as unethical as people say…
Apple has been criticized for at least the past three years for acting unethically and hiring cheap labor in China. Working conditions, work hours, and wages are most often condemned. Although these claims have hurt Apple’s reputation in the short term, it remains a leading innovator and contributor to the advancement of technology and communication specifically. As Ed Freeman states in his “Business Ethics at the Millennium”, “business as an institution is a source of the creation of value…the creative force of humans is the engine of capitalism” (Freeman 177). Though Apple may hire cheap labor in order to drive its profits or keep the price of its new iPhone affordable, it is Apple’s social responsibility to treat its employees ethically.
By continuing to be innovative and contributing to the advancement of society, Apple will remain profitable and can still please its stakeholders without being unethical. Innovation can be inhibited if values and ethics are ignored. Freeman supports this by stating, “if business is separate from values and ethics, and if change requires one to think about values and ethics, then change in business will be difficult” (Freeman 175). In order to maintain its well-respected reputation, Apple should reconsider its values and continue to focus more on its innovation than cost cutting metrics.