ConAgra, through the manufacture and distribution of Snack Pack Pudding©, causes and/or perpetuates multiple chains of negative karma. ConAgra attempts to counteract this negative karma by a campaign entitled “Child Hunger Ends Here®.” Noting the problem of childhood hunger that, according to its charitable partner, Feeding America, affects 17 million children daily, ConAgra is engaged in a campaign to donate a minimum of 1 million meals ($125,000) up to a maximum of 3 million meals based upon consumers entering a code from ConAgra items purchased. For each code, ConAgra donates 12.5 cents, “the cost for Feeding America to provide one meal through its network of local foodbanks.”
This is a positive action. ConAgra’s objective is to positively associate its brands and products with Feeding America. ConAgra wants to be defined by its positive actions. However, positive actions do not cancel negative actions. Each action is part of its own causal chain. Feeding 1 person does not undo the suffering caused by ConAgra’s activities.
As the nutritional content of Snack Pack Pudding© deteriorates, there are implications for malnourishment. The new milk reduction formulation of Snack Pack Pudding© will not deliver the same nutrition as the previous formulation. By reducing nutritional content of one of the most affordable and widely distributed food items, the poorest and most nutritionally deficient will be among those most impacted by the reduction in nutrition of Snack Pack Pudding©. Yet, this fact will be obfuscated by advertising.
It should not be a case of “either/or.” It should be a case of “both/and.” ConAgra should be engaged in both the production of high nutrition food at the lowest cost possible and charitable giving.
It is also worth mentioning that charity, known in Buddhism as dana, values material giving as the lowest form of benefit. Giving knowledge is the highest form of benefiting others. Moreover, intention is a central determining factor in whether or not an action is positive, neutral, or negative. If production of a low cost product is understood as a material gift, the utilization of common resources for the common good, then, if those resources are used to create a consumer packaged good (i.e. gift) that is deceptive and withholds or obfuscates information intentionally, as suggested by the advertising practices of ConAgra’s Snack Pack Pudding©, the item cannot provide the desired positive outcome.
I believe if companies spent even a fraction of their massive advertising and promotion dollars on creating affordable low cost and high nutrition foods, the lobbyists, “food” regulations, and adversarial scheme that pits companies against consumers would not be necessary. It is self-perpetuating and a misallocation of our common resources against our common good.
Is it possible? I think a society where millions go hungry when we can feed them for 12.5 cents per meal demands it!