The series of paid informational advertisements by Ingles has taken the store out of advertising and into advocacy. This is dangerous ground for a company because it alienates customers who don’t agree. The nationwide boycott of Hobby Lobby for its stance against parts of the Affordable Care Act is an example of where this can lead. Corporations are unreliable advocates for truth because they are required by law to operate for profit above all else.
A recent Ingles infomercial made the argument that consumers may be misled by alarmists posing as food experts online. The point is not all chemicals are bad for you. Unless Ingles takes responsibility for vetting all the additives found in its aisles, this is an irresponsible position. Some chemicals, hydrogenated oils and glyphosate residues, for example, are bad for you and are on Ingles’ shelves. To buy advertising space to convince us that we shouldn’t worry so much about chemicals and then sell us questionable ingredients is disingenuous.
The next in Ingles’ series is titled “Undeserved Health Halos” and argues that organic foods do not deserve their healthy reputation because some studies looking at nutritional benefits have been inconclusive. Organic food is sustainably raised and safe to eat. Whether it’s proven nutritionally superior is beside the point.
As alarming as the grocery manufacturer and GMO lobby is, the eagerness of corporations to publicly influence debate and promote opinions is equally alarming. Hobby Lobby’s recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling elevating corporations to the status of personhood in matters of religious belief should serve as a cautionary tale. It is why corporations should stick to making profits and let the citizens and their elected representatives decide what is best for the republic and its actual citizens.