How to Be an Ethical Shopper: A Primer

How to Be An Ethical Shopper: A Primer

It is not easy to avoid contributing to the Occupation of Palestine when you shop, but here we have put together a few helpful hints as well as some other sources you can check when in doubt.

What to Watch Out for When Shopping
When it comes to cosmetics, as I mention in other posts on this blog, unfortunately all those spa products that you may love violate the Geneva Convention if they contain Dead Sea Salts. Therefore, just because a product is made in North America (as Say Yes to Carrots now claims) doesn’t mean you’re safe as some of their product labels list Dead Sea Silt as an ingredient.
You also want to watch for any product labelled Made in Israel or something that like “IZ” which stands for Industrial Zone. Many of these Industrial Zones are located in the West Bank (like Mishor Adumin Industrial Park) and are found in illegal Israeli settlements. Palestinians who work in Israel’s Industrial Zones are paid less than minimum wage and subjet to poor working conditions and extremely long hours. In the case of SodaStream, the labourers are not allowed to live in Mishor Adumin Inudstrial Park and must allow an extra two hours for transportation to and from the Israeli settlement as they are not alllowed to live there.
Many spa products may be labelled with an IZ. Please do not buy these products.

As far as products which are labelled Made in Israel are concerned, as I have discussed in previous posts on this blog, such a label is useless because in North America right now there is no distinguishing between a product made within the internationally recognized borders of Israel (pre-1967) and those made in the Occupied Territory of the West Bank. Moreover, even if the product is made in Israel proper, by choosing to buy Israeli goods you are supporting the Israeli economy and ongoing settlement expansion.

Bar Codes
Products that are labelled with the Bar Code 729 means, according to BDS activists Leena Barkat, that “the item was made in an illegal Israeli settlement, even if the label says it comes from Jordan”. For example, be careful because some food products (like Casbah Couscous). In the case of Casbah. the products are only marked with the 729 bar code, otherwise there is no country of origin actually listed., only a distributor, in this case, for Canada, which is Hain-Celestial Canada, ULC, located in British Columbia, Canada.

Place of Manufacture: Looking Closer
Sabra and Tribe are two hummus brands that come from Israeli-owned companies that directly contribute to the Israeli-military and the Occupation of Palestine, however if you read the package, the company address is listed as New Jersey. A quick Google search, however, will result in information about Tribe and Sabra’s contribution to the Occupation. As mentioned previously on this blog, I have made the mistake of purchasing both Tribe and Sabra before. Both products are prominently displayed in the deli sections at Safeway and Sobeys.
In brief, Tribe is owned by Osem Group, a major supporter of the Jewish National Fund. The JNF currently controls 93% of land within Israel and its illegal settlements. Osem is also the largest exporter of Israeli-food products to the U.S. The JNF was founded in 1901 and was set up with the goal to acquire land in Palestine for the World Zionist Organization. The JNF also participated in forcibly evicting Palestinians from their land as well as many other human rights violations in the West Bank
Sabra Dipping Company is a product of both Pepsi and the Strauss Group. Specifically, Strauss is known for supporting the Israeli army’s Golani Brigade, which has a history of human rights violations against both the Palestinian and Lebanese people. Sabra also makes salsa.

For more info on boycotts against Sabra and Tribe, visit Boston’s BDS campaign at

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