Does Your Favorite Food Have a Political Agenda? Here’s How to Find Out

A new app tells you how much money a company donated to Republican and Democratic causes over the past decade.
(Photo: Chris Whitehead/Getty Images)
Aug 31, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

You stay away from Hobby Lobby in support of women’s rights and avoid Chick-fil-A at all costs to protest its antigay CEO. But do you know how Republican or Democratic the food in your pantry is? A new app makes it simple.

BuyPartisan is easy to use: Just scan the bar code of your favorite brand, wait for the beep, and voilà: You get a breakdown of how much money that company contributed to political causes over the past decade.

For instance, General Mills’ Honey Nut Cheerios made 63.5 percent of its donations to Republicans, 24 percent to Democrats, and 12.5 percent to unspecified causes. The app also scans home products: A package of Clorox wipes scores 63.25 Democrat, 19.25 percent Republican, and 17.75 percent unspecified.

BuyPartisan breaks down the political contributions of the Quaker Oats Company.

“We’re trying to make every day election day for people,” former Capitol Hill staffer and app developer Matthew Colbert told the Los Angeles Times.

The free app gathers figures of popular companies’ campaign financial contributions from the Center for Responsive Politics, the Sunlight Foundation, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics. It matches the data with products that consumers buy every day so that users can learn which political party would profit the most from their buying decision.

“For the first time ever, you’re able to take that product and bring it to a whole new light,” said Colbert. “A quarter or tenth of a penny that went to a political contribution might not be something you know.”

When it comes to politics, it’s no secret that money begets power. A recent study found that a $100,000 bump in a corporation’s contributions to a political action committee in five years makes it 11 percent less likely that the company will receive penalties from any SEC rule violation. In 2012, thanks to food industry lobbyists, Congress declared pizza a vegetable in the middle of a $10.5 billion overhaul of the school lunch program.

Some critics say, however, that BuyPartisan will only further divide Americans.

“You don’t want every day to be an election,” lawyer Jack Marshall, president of ProEthics, told the Times. “That’s why we have elections periodically, so people can calm down and work together.”