By Joe Stutler
Dear Barilla US:
I went shopping recently to purchase the ingredients needed for a personal chefing job. I’m serving 30-plus people a lovely Italian dinner.
I try to buy local when I can (and when cost allows). I like to support my friends and neighbors, just as they support me. I live in Eastern Iowa, so Barilla is a brand that I consider “local.”
When I was looking at pasta brand options, I saw your product on the shelves. On sale. $1 for a one-pound box. Coupons were sitting on the shelf as well … it would have been even cheaper.
Instead, I bought another brand, a box of Farfalle, $1.18 each. No coupon. I bought 10 boxes. I also bought another brand of elbows, same deal. Three boxes.
Those couple of bucks I would have saved came out of my “profit margin.” I’m a disabled vet working the occasional odd gig to help put food on my own family’s table. Yet I chose to forgo those few bucks.
Frankly, I can’t serve your product. It’s tainted. It tastes a bit of bigotry, with a smattering of hate. My customers won’t like that at all, nor does my family. See, I believe in our civil rights, those rights I hold sacred, those rights I hold dear, those rights I was sent to war to ensure my fellow Americans would always be able to enjoy.
Iowa was among the first states to end marriage discrimination, and I’m very proud of my adopted state for having done so. When your CEO told my fellow Americans they should buy another product if they didn’t like your company’s bigotry, that meant something to me. It meant that you didn’t believe in what I put my life on the line for. It meant that you didn’t care about America, that you didn’t care about all of Iowa’s families.
I’m not asking everyone to boycott your company. Instead, I’m asking them to be informed consumers, and they can make up their own minds. I’m not asking anyone to stifle your speech. Those rights are sacred, and I support your right to say what you choose. I, too, will enjoy my right to speak my thoughts.
As a chef, I can’t serve tainted food. As an Italian American, I’m sad that an Italian company with a local plant is giving us a bad name.
As a war veteran, I will continue the fight to ensure all Americans can enjoy their rights. As a decent human being, I’m asking you to think about what you are saying and how it might impact others. Right now, your food is tainted, even if it’s a more attractive price point, I can’t serve tainted food at the cost of my reputation, of my art, of my soul.
Please become a local business with whom I can be proud to partner.
Joe Stutler, owner, Joe’s Kitchen in Marion, is married and has two sons. He is active in various veterans’ causes and organizations, and volunteers with several boards and organizations in the community. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org