Here’s a confession. For all my eating local, my gospel of whole foods from known entities, to contrast the stacks of expensive food from Farmer’s Market’s you see every week, I love me a hot cocoa from the evil empire of Corporate Coffee.
And when I say love, I mean love. It is a true love. Reaffirmed week in and week out, with my afternoon forays into sip-able chocolatey heaven. Sure, my cocoa could come from any number of places. Independent places. Sometimes it does. Mostly it doesn’t. Because for my palette, this cocoa is the most pleasing. Its probably the squirt of vanilla they add to the decidedly non-fair trade chocolate syrup. The vanilla that without a doubt contains high fructose corn syrup. I’ve never checked. I’m assuming. All this stirred into milk from unhappy cows. Add in that paper cup, its an easy trip down the shame spiral.
I’m not going to give up the Corporate Cocoa. I’ve tried. I am powerless against it. Even I’m a sucker for convenience when it provides an escape from Corporate Servitude, however momentary. If I’ve admitted I have a problem, I might as well take full advantage of the big business it comes from. As empires go, this one actually isn’t that evil. The ‘Bucks does a lot of things I support. They are local in much the same way as my beloved Amazon. Yes, I’m rationalizing.
The handy thing about Corporate Dining (at this level at least) is the incentive programs that take just a little sting out of my sipping chocolate. I buy my cocoa with a gift card. Every single time. If I don’t have money on the gift card. I add it, then buy the cocoa. Doing this provides me perks. A free birthday drink. The card for which I’m toting in my bag right now. Free promotional offers in the mail. Do I want to try your new oatmeal? Why, yes! On a morning I’ve forgotten my breakfast, that will be quite handy, thanks. If I was more of a patron the benefits would be even better. Not enough incentive for me as a (mostly) Conscientious Consumer to increase my purchases, but I’m aware of them.
I wish I could say this is limited to cocoa.
I’ve a free cookie awaiting me at Corporate Cafe.
I’m two burgers away from a Big Box Burger freebie.
Those burgers, and their cousins, are some of the only non-grass feed beef I’ve consumed in recent history. Its not the perks that drive me. Although as a full fledged hypocrite, I might as well take advantage of them. Its the damn convenience. A convenient spot to meet friends for lunch. A convenient medium calorie snack when I’m starving. I use the rewards to hone my exceptions. The world is not my oyster when it comes to Corporate Dining. Not that my choices are necessarily better than other corporate alternatives. They’re just the exceptions I’ve made. I stick with them as a way to limit my options. The Cafe Named of Bread can be my go-to place. If that’s the case then, I skip right on by other franchises. Getting a free cookie out of the deal? Go me! For the 3 or 4 exceptions I make, there are innumerable I pass on.
I wish my options were better. By and large, they aren’t. Most of these establishments haven’t gotten the message on ingredient sourcing and responsible corporate citizenship. Why should they when die hard Conscientious Consumers like me are still eating their products under the banner of convenience. The independent landscape of my workplace neighborhood (which is where these indiscretions are taking place) is increasingly homogenous. My “independent options”? I’ll put good money on their food coming from Cisco or Food Services of America. That beef isn’t any less corn fed. The eggs aren’t coming from contented chickens. Choosing independent might improve where the money goes (maybe), but at the casual dining and/or take out level it doesn’t often improve the sourcing.
What’s my message here? Let me repeat, I’m not giving up my Corporate Cocoa. I’m very firm on that. I do try to remember my travel mug now and again. We all make compromises. I can be anti-Big Box. And still a card carrying consumer of some un-local food. It pains me a little. Clearly not enough to give up the sauce. The chocolate sauce. I’ll take as much advantage as I can, keep my list of affiliations lean, and pick up my free cookie sometime this week.
Anyone else? Corporate dine much? Where? Why? And how do you feel about it? I can’t be the only one enjoying a small side of guilt with every meal.