Jerry Greenfield on BBC Blog

July 31st, 2006 by Hugh

Declan Curry of the BBC has been chatting on his blog with Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream company.

Ben and Jerry’s, as you probably are aware, has always made a point of being more than just a business, and has aimed to change the world for the better – just as Exbiblio aims to do. It was founded in Montana in the 1970s, and six years ago was sold (some people say “sold out”) to the food giant Unilever. Ben and Jerry continue to run a foundation which bears their name, and to be involved in the social aspects of the company.

As Jerry says, originally their company was considered to follow a “hippy” way of doing business. These days it is mainstream. Certainly here in Europe, “fair trade” coffee and chocolate can be found on the shelves of every supermarket with large markups (and a few extra pennies going to the farmers). Even the great oil giant BP bears a green logo.

BBC viewers sent in some good questions to the blog. One writes that “ethical” companies that sell up to multinationals are just giving their new owners a respectable “green wash”. Jerry responds that when Unilever bought the company, it committed to buying the milk and cream from family farmers, and it continues to fund the Foundation at the same level as before. He admits, however, that although Ben and Jerry’s tries to influence its owners, it’s like a small tail trying to wag a big dog.

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