By: Rick Weis

A trip to the grocery store used to be rather simple: you stroll down the aisles and pick up the items on your list…and many that aren’t. Maybe you had to decide between a few brands (your favorite or what is on sale). However, times have changed. Besides choosing between local and/or organic, you now have another decision to make: how socially conscious do you want to be with your purchase? Nowadays, the grocery store and what you purchase there can provide you the ability to help feed a hungry child, provide water to those that don’t have access or even save the rain forest.

Such charitable tie-ins are nothing new. There’s been Newman’s Own products, Yoplait with its pink lids for breast cancer and even Starbucks with its Ethos Water. Now, socially-conscious products can be more readily found. From water to nutrition bars to chocolate, there is something for everyone.

Just to see what was out there, I visited my local Whole Foods (because if you’re going to find foods with a cause, you’re going to find them here!). The products with the most prominent charitable connections were bottled waters. For example, People Water and Vita Water’s bottles state that with the purchase of their water, they will provide access to clean drinking water to those who need it by building or repairing wells and establishing a purification system. Something unique in the water category was Cuipo Water, which claims it will acquire and preserve one square mile of rainforest for every purchase. Per Cuipo’s label, so far they have saved more than 100 million square miles! And if that wasn’t enough, each bottle is made out of 100 percent recycled plastic.

Fine with tap water? Well, you can turn to the snack/health bars aisle for your socially conscious purchase. Take for instance the appropriately named bar “This Bar Saves Lives.” In connection with Save the Children, this bar manufacturer will provide a life-saving packet of food to a child in need for each bar purchased. If you have a sweet tooth, you can purchase an Endangered Species Chocolate bar, which has a variety of flavors. You won’t feel as guilty indulging in a little cocoa knowing that 10 percent of the manufacturer’s net profits go to support species conservation and habitat preservation.

As a consumer, would you choose a product that “gives back” over one that doesn’t? What if it cost more? If you’re a food or beverage manufacturer that doesn’t currently contribute to any charitable causes, would you consider partnering with a charity to give back and tout that on your label? While giving back might cost in the short run, it could exponentially boost sales and help make the world a better place at the same time. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. We’d love to hear your opinion!

Additionally, GHJ is doing its own giving back by donating $10 to the LA food bank for every Food and Beverage Survey that is filled out! If you are part of the food and beverage industry and have 10 minutes, please fill it out and help raise money for a worthy cause. Click here to access the survey.