Money-conscious shoppers have long touted the benefits of shopping at ALDI, the multinational German supermarket chain that touts a wide variety of food from all over the world, and offers a large selection of free-range and organic products at a fraction of the price of places like Whole Foods.
“Just got done at #ALDI,” college student Adrienne Miller of Lansing, Michigan, wrote as she Instagrammed a picture of a cardboard box full of free-range eggs, organic blue corn tortilla chips, goat cheese, and wild-caught salmon fillets.
Little did she know, the AP was about to break a whopper of a story. A seafood factory in Hunchun, China, had been using forced North Korean labor to process its goods, much of which was shipped off to ALDI and Walmart stores around the world.
The next day, she posted her outrage on Facebook, where earlier she had linked her Instagram photo. “I had no idea. I stopped buying beef to reduce my carbon footprint, only to find out I’ve been subsidizing slave labor and an increasingly terrifying nuclear weapons program.”
We reached out to Miller for a phone interview and asked her where she’s planning to shop now. “I mean, I don’t know! It’s a lot to process. Is my organic quinoa also harvested through forced labor? What about my kale? My almond milk?”
Nicole Winestein, a psychology research fellow at the National Institute for Food and Drug Evaluation, said that while this might make a few people change their minds about buying cheap salmon from ALDI and Walmart, it’s unlikely to have a lasting effect.
“People either don’t know, or they don’t care,” she said. “Look at Nestle: one of the biggest producers of chocolate in the world. They source a lot of their chocolate from forced child labor in Africa, but you don’t see Crunch bar sales taking a nosedive. It’s hard for people to associate the final product with the people behind it.”
She said that while ALDI and Walmart may see a temporary decline in sales – something that she’s calling “salmon famine” based on Facebook users’ pledges not to shop at those outlets – they will likely go back up as the shock of having unintentionally funded the nuclear dreams of a megalomaniacal man-child wears off.
“Unfortunately, it’s just so easy. You’re walking by the frozen section and you see Sea Queen Salmon Fillets. And today, they’re $5.99 instead of $6.99! In the back of your mind, you’re thinking ‘slave labor… North Korean nukes…’ But it’s $5.99 for six fillets of salmon! You’d pay double that at Wegmans. So you pick it up and tell yourself there was no way that particular bag was processed in North Korea.”
As for Miller, she says she’s going to stick to the local Lidl for now. “I mean, they’re cheap and German, too.”
This post was created with the help of Grammarly.