Feature Lifestyle

A New App Helps Shoppers Put Their Money Where Their Mouths Are

This Election Day, consider the grocery store, not just the voting booth, as your political arena  by Lara Rabinovitch

November 4, 2014

Whether you're in a country that's voting on November 4 or not, you may want to think about which party you're supporting next time you go to the grocery store.

A new app, BuyPartisan, meticulously tracks the political spending—through Boards of Directors, CEOs, PACs, and employees—of nearly 100 companies that create 2,000 common food products available across the United States. With a quick scan of a barcode, customers can see whether their favorite cereal (or preferred toilet paper brand) leans more Democratic or Republican.

“Wouldn’t you want to know whether the things you purchase everyday of your life reflect the same values you [do] in the voting booth?” asks Matthew Colbert, founder of the app and its parent company Spend Consciously. “What we’re trying to do is take whatever transparency is currently there and make it much more easy for people to have in the palm of their hand or on the computer. We come at it from an empowerment perspective.”

With this in mind, we decided to use BuyPartisan to analyze the political parties’ surreptitious intrusions into a classic American meal: in this case, a barbeque finished off with a fresh-baked apple pie à la mode.

Here’s the partisan tally, otherwise known as the menu: 

Appetizers

Cheese Straws made with Land O’ Lakes Monterey Jack Cheese (Dean Foods): 

59.86% Republican, 27.84% Democrat, 12.3% Others

Spinach Parmesan Artichoke Dip (Kroger’s):

45.46% Republican, 43.05% Democrat, 11.49% Others

Planters Smoked Peanuts (Kraft Foods): 

39.69% Republican, 30.28% Democrat, 30.03% Others

Lay’s Potato Chips (PepsiCo): 

45% Republican, 22.2% Democrat, 32.8% Others 

Drinks

Stella Artois Beer (Anheuser-Busch InBev):

49.79% Republican, 41.23% Democrat, 8.99% Others

Honest Fizz Root Beer (Coca-Cola Company):

42.97% Republican, 22.16% Democrat, 34.87% Others

Main & Sides

Hamburgers made with Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce (Berkshire Hathaway):

4.27% Republican, 2.25% Democrat, 93.47% Others*

Heinz Ketchup (Berkshire Hathaway):

4.27% Republican, 2.25% Democrat, 93.47% Others

Spinach Salad (Dole):

53.7% Republican, 19.79% Democrat, 26.51% Others

Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for salad dressing) (ConAgra Foods):

76.13% Republican, 14.61% Democrat, 9.25% Others

Desserts

Pillsbury Pie Crust (General Mills):

48.5% Republican, 24.15% Democrat, 27.35% Others

Ben & Jerry’s Greek Frozen Yogurt (Unilever):

9.59% Republican, 71.59% Democrat, 18.83% Others

York Peppermint Pattie (Hershey’s):

56.93% Republican, 23.09% Democrat, 19.97% Others

Bounty Paper Towel (Procter & Gamble):

65.36% Republican, 25.37% Democrat, 9.27% Others

Even if, as BuyPartisan founder Colbert admits, the amount of political contributions per item totals less than a penny, when you consider how much we spend on groceries per year—and the average American spends $4,000—the amount we might unwittingly contribute to political parties and causes via our food purchases adds up. Particularly when compared with how much scrutiny we use to judge our food choices (nutritional value, farming practices, GMOs, environmental impact, etc.), the lack of interest in the political values of these corporations seems jarring. But with advances in technology like BuyPartisan, we can more accurately choose which products come with values we want to bring to the family dinner table, and which ones we’d rather leave on the shelf.

* According to a BuyPartisan spokesperson, the “others” category could mean support for Independent candidates, other party candidates, or super PACS.

Illustration by Tyler Hoehne

Photos by Lara Rabinovitch

Recently on GOOD
A New App Helps Shoppers Put Their Money Where Their Mouths Are This Election Day, consider the grocery store, not just the voting booth, as your political arena