App Lets You Pick Groceries According to Political Leanings

Friday, 15 Aug 2014 02:19 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Bananas aren't always yellow. The makers of a new app, BuyPartisan, says they can be also be "red" or "blue," or at least the companies that market them are.

With the free app, marketed by the company Spend Consciously, shoppers can scan bar codes on their groceries and learn the way the food companies lean before they decide what to buy, reports CBS News.

Shoppers can also share the companies' political leanings with their friends through social media, so their friends can also learn whether their favorite foods come from a company led by a Republican or Democratic CEO.

Some of those who have downloaded the app say they appreciate knowing the political beliefs of their food companies' leaders and employees.

"It's great to see where all the money is going," a user said on Apple's iTunes store reviews on Thursday, "It makes me think twice before I buy anything."

Another user wrote about working "for some high-profile political campaigns and [being] very in-tune to the importance of where my money goes so the idea itself is genius. The best part is the app actually works! I expected to have little success in scanning products but it really has info for everything, down to a collectible chocolate tin I bought 10 years ago!"

However, The Huffington Post reports that the app is not always accurate. For example, people who scan in a Chiquita banana find that there are political donations listed for people and firms not connected with the banana grower, an issue Spend Consciously says will be remedied.

"We apologize for that," said app developer Matthew Colbert, explaining the app had just enough complete information on 100 companies. When information can't be traced for a specific company, the app searches its database for people and information that could be related.

"We're fixing that now — it should be fixed in the next couple of weeks."

However, Colbert said the app's "compare" section is guaranteed to give an accurate accounting that can be trusted.

Colbert told The Washington Post that the app may not change people's minds about what kind of bananas or cereal they'll buy, but it could prove to be a good conversation booster, and he wants users to appreciate knowing that part of their grocery bills go to political contributions.

The app's data comes from the Center for Responsive Politics, the Sunlight Foundation, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics, and is the first from Spend Consciously.


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