The golden rule for cooking pasta is 1½ teaspoons of salt, 3.5 ounces of pasta and a gallon of water, according to Barilla, the so-called pasta “choice of Italy.” Apparently, company chairman Guido Barilla likes to stir in some homophobia too.
Barilla, during a recent interview on Italian radio, said that he “would never do (a commercial) with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect but because we don’t agree with them. Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role.”
He went on to say what was translated as, if gay people “like our pasta and our advertising, they’ll eat our pasta, if they don’t like it then they will not eat it and they will eat another brand.”
Oh, the things a homophobe can say to push tempers past the boiling point.
In the LGBT community in Italy and here at home in the United States, the focus quickly turned to circulating petitions on Change.org and a boycott of all-things Barilla – the dried pasta of various shapes in the familiar blue box, the microwavable meals, the marinara sauces and the trendy gluten-free products.
Barilla offered an apology to employees and customers that was placed prominently on the company website next to his photograph. He described his comments as “insensitive” and said, “I understand that they were hurtful and they are not a genuine view of my opinion.”
As a WiG reader, you probably were offended by Barilla’s remarks and perhaps you’re not accepting his quick apology and restocking your food pantry with the brand’s spicy marinara sauce and spaghetti.
We haven’t accepted the apology either, and we fundamentally disagree with the corporate chief and his narrow-minded ideas about family.
But before we head to the checkout counter to prove our loyalty to the cause, we ought to take stock of what it means to be progressives and consumers. We believe that it means going beyond rapid responses to headline news and shaming corporate executives until they offer their “sincerest apologies” for jeopardizing their bottom line.
As good progressives and consumers, we should research all the brands we purchase to make sure that we chose wisely. For instance, part of boycotting Barilla should involve looking into whether the brand seeking to capitalize on Barilla’s insensitivity is owned by a conglomerate with a history of discrimination complaints, union trouble and health and safety violations. Or whether it’s owned by a Big Food company heavily invested in a campaign to block labeling food for genetically-modified ingredients.
Money talks – and it speaks loudly. Instead of getting a self-satisfied rush out of participating in the latest boycott trend, we should all think about what our daily purchases are saying. We should put our values into the way we distribute our cash.
With the holiday shopping season around the corner, this is the time to investigate the corporate behavior of the companies you might support.
Refusing to buy Stoli, Chick-fil-A and Barilla won’t change the world. But if we all did our research and exercised mindfulness as consumers, we could have quite an impact.