Speed Reads

the politics of groceries

This app will let you know which political parties are really benefiting when you buy groceries

If the thought of buying a product that might benefit a political party you can't stand makes you recoil in horror, the BuyPartisan app is for you.

The goal of this free app is to let people find out more information about the brands they purchase and the ideologies of their leaders and employees. After downloading the app, a user just has to scan a bar code using their phone's camera, and then wait for the information to pop up: the number in red is for contributions to the Republican Party, blue for the Democratic Party, and green for others.

"For the first time ever, you're able to take that product and bring it to a whole new light," developer Matthew Colbert, a former Capitol Hill staffer, told the Los Angeles Times. "A quarter or tenth of a penny that went to a political contribution might not be something you know."

BuyPartisan looks at campaign finance data from top Fortune 500 companies, and the averages are computed after looking at the donation histories of the CEO, board of directors, employees, and affiliated political action committees. For example, by using that data, BuyPartisan found that Procter & Gamble scores an average of 70.25 percent Republican, while Celestial Seasonings is 91 percent Democratic.

The app has some critics, including Jack Marshall, president of ProEthics. Marshall told the Times that it's best to avoid intense partisanship, which could be fanned by this app. "You don't want every day to be an election," he said. "That's why we have elections periodically, so people can calm down and work together."