Why business transparency should be the first item on your shopping list

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How did this food get to my table? Where did the ingredients in this product I’m buying come from? Is the company I’m supporting with my purchase socially responsible? The answers to these questions affect my own purchasing decisions every day. And I suspect they affect many of yours, as well.

The days when milk was commonly delivered to your door, most vegetables were grown and sold in your community, and the letters GMO didn’t stand for modifying our food, are mostly gone. But that doesn’t mean we no longer have any control over where our food comes from or how it’s made.

The Internet has made it possible to learn more than ever before about the companies who provide food for you and your family. And as it turns out, that kind of transparency has become something people like me (not just millennials) are willing to pay more for.

Shopping for Transparency

Shopping at my local farmer’s market in Santa Cruz allows me to meet and support the people and businesses that sell food in my community. Photo credit: Jackie Hansmann

Farm-to-table, family-owned and operated, organically grown, sustainably-sourced, fair trade certified, non-GMO—these and other hallmarks of business transparency and social responsibility are becoming valuable differentiators for premium brands. Because in the end, who really wants to buy from companies that mistreat the environment or make products using questionable chemicals or processes?

I’ve discovered many companies and e-commerce sites dedicated to providing socially responsible and transparent shopping experiences. One of my personal favorites is Thrive Market, a subscription-based online store full of healthy foods and natural products at wholesale prices. By subscribing, I’m also sponsoring a free membership for a low-income family—a shopping “perk” that has value to me.

A favorite non-food company of mine that practices social responsibility and business transparency is Rainbow Sandals. The company designs their products to last, and when the sandals have reached their “end” I can send them back to be repaired and subsequently donated to people who are homeless, orphaned, or victims of natural disasters. Now that’s a corporate philosophy I can get behind.

I’m also a true fan (and an employee) of Nordic Naturals—not the least of which is because the company continually strives to be both transparent and socially responsible. Case in point: Nordic Naturals offers a free certificate of analysis for every product sold. This certificate of analysis details the results of the third-party testing we use to verify the potency and purity of every supplement we make.

For me this is important, because I want to know that what I’m buying is exactly what the label describes. To me it’s not just about transparency, but also about trust.

Nordic Naturals offers a free certificate of analysis for every product, giving customers transparent access to the results of our third-party testing to verify product purity and potency.

With all of the countless options out there, how do I decide which companies to buy from? I know it sounds simple, but browsing a company’s website will reveal a lot of great insights about how a company operates. I guarantee that the most transparent companies will have pages detailing their sustainable and/or regenerative practices, social responsibility, mission, and values statements.

Reading the packaging and labels of the products you intend to purchase is another great way to be a more conscious consumer. The more often you do this, the more you’ll begin to understand what you’re looking for in a product (and what you don’t want to find). I was always intimidated by the amount of detail on most packaging and labels, but once I determined my own standards for buying, I felt empowered. This knowledge allows me to use my purchasing power to support the companies that are doing things right, whatever the cost may be.

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