The first time I remember visiting Oswego, I came upon an area in Fulton where there was this marvelous chocolate smell in the air… something I’d never encountered before in my life. I was to learn that there was a Nestle’s chocolate factory, and almost every time I ended up passing through there I’d come across that scent, which was wonderful. I understood why Isaac Asimov almost fainted every time he went through Fulton on his way to SUNY Oswego.

I never had a negative thought about Nestle’s at the time, even though there was a boycott (this is a pdf) that I wasn’t privy to going on at the time (1977), since we didn’t have the internet back then and, well, as a college kid the only parts of the newspaper I read was the sports and comics pages. Mess with baby’s will you; curse you Nestle’s!

In essence, Nestle’s was trying to convince mother’s in less developed nations that their baby formula was better than breast feeding for their babies… and pretty aggressively at that. The biggest issue was that in those countries the water is fairly polluted, and since formula must be mixed with water, there’s no way such a claim could come close to being true. That and a host of other things that could and were happening in those countries led the initial boycott to its beginning, and here we are 40 years later and that boycott is still going on.

I wish I could say it was that issue that led me to boycott Nestle’s, but it’s not, mainly because I just learned about it in 2016. The issue that led me to start boycotting Nestle’s was the Jerk CEO’s proclamation that water shouldn’t be free because we don’t know how to treat it right and that it’s not a “human right and because we treat it as one, we are using it in an irresponsible manner…”

This year he pretty much doubled down on that one, stating last summer that corporations should own every drop of water on the planet — and you’re not getting any unless you pay up. This was in response to a lawsuit filed against Nestle’s for bottling water and selling it back to residents in California even though they were in a drought at the time. It didn’t help that a ruled in their favor against the Forest Service, saying that a permit which expired in 1987 is still valid because Nestle’s tried to renew it but never heard back from them, and until the Forest Service can find a legitimate reason to deny the permit that it’s still valid, regardless of the date… at an expense of $524 a year being paid by Nestle’s for the water. No kidding! :-O

Thus, I started boycotting Nestle’s in 2013… at least I thought I had. I wasn’t buying Nestle’s chocolate anymore, including their Crunch bar, which I’d always enjoyed. What I hadn’t been paying attention to until early 2016 was that their chocolate was being used for other things I’ve always enjoyed like Butterfingers and Baby Ruth bars. They also own and produce many other products I know about, most of which I used to consume in some way such as Cheerios (unfortunately I can’t get Mom to stop eating them, so there’s that lol), Sweet Leaf Tea, Smarties, Hot Pockets, Lean Cuisine, Dibs (oh no, not Dibs!), and Häagen-Dazs; sigh… There’s tons of stuff they produce that will amaze you, so here’s a list of Nestle’s products that are out on the market; you’ll be as amazed as I was… and this isn’t even all of them, as they’re behind over 8,000 products on the market.

Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario

Just so you know, this is in essence the only thing I’ve ever really boycotted in my life. There are other heinous companies that do bad things that I would have boycotted if I’d used their products to begin with. It’s kind of hard to boycott something you’ve never consumed. But Nestle’s, being one of the largest producers of foods in the world, makes it both easy and hard to boycott at the same time, mainly because they have so many items that it’s hard to know how you might be supporting them without meaning to.

Why take a stand on this? Because we live in an area that has some of the purest and largest fresh water reserves in the world, and Nestle’s wants a piece of it. They’re already getting 20% of the water from Lake Michigan, even while the people in Flint can’t consume or even bathe in their own water. It won’t be long before they’re coming after our own great lake, Lake Ontario, trying to bottle & sell part of our own water back to us.

Since it seems that the courts and the politicians aren’t going to do anything to protect the citizens, the only savvy thing to do is to try to make business hard to conduct while in America until they change their habits. Truthfully, I know this isn’t going to make a difference in their operations, even if every person in central New York joined in this boycott. However, what it might do if more of us joined in is get our local stores to stop carrying their products and get our local politicians to “finally” listen to the rest of us telling them how we’d rather be treated… and not as a commodity.

Since the time I wrote this, Nestle’s has sold its chocolate products to a different company, so I’m back to eating Butterfingers again… for now. I’m fairly happy about that. Still, I have to ask this question; what are you willing to give up to protect your, our, water rights?

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