For the love of all that is good...

If I had a list of wishes, pretty high up would be that people realize that Whole Foods Market... well... sucks.

Here are a few reasons to avoid them and support your local grocer instead (if you're lucky enough to have one, that is):  

I could go on. (And I probably will in future posts because food politics and labor issues are matters near and dear to my conception of feminism.)

But instead please go learn about the campaign being organized by the United Farm Workers about Whole Foods that demostrates -- yet again -- where their values lie. 


Support local!

by Debbie Rasmussen
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8 Comments Have Been Posted

Thankfully Whole Foods are not everywhere ...

I have family in Iowa who tell me there are no Whole Foods stores anywhere in the state and they hope there will never be any. (However, there are those west of Des Moines that go as far as Omaha, Nebraska to shop at the one there) That does not mean, however, that Iowa is immune to big-box-stores and chains. The largest cities there have too many of them and in many of the smaller towns, Wal-Mart is the ONLY place to shop. The farmers' markets all over there thankfully thrive.

Whole Foods was founded/co-founded by one of those Libertarians obviously wishing that some disease would take the unions away, ah-ha. It is unfortunate. When I tell people I know who shop there, they are stunned. They think that most or all conscientious food consumers are liberal/progressive. Not always so.

Shopping local is indeed sooooo important, and I would definitely recommend that if there is a farmers' market in your area, support it regularly and often while it is in-season!

I love Whole Foods,

I love Whole Foods, actually.

True, if they bought from local farmers, that would be fabulous - but in this economy, buying in bulk is sensible and smart and the local farmers would have to charge more [if you didn't notice, the prices at Whole Foods are already quite ridiculous].

The owner is a very strong libertarian and with libertarianism comes realism.
Whole Foods follows humane standards and the company is PETA-friendly, which is more than one can say for most companies distributing food these days.
Not only has this company looked for the best for the customers, but the owner is also a strict vegan with high health standards. He gives the people what they want.

Not only that, but the founder doesn't overpay staff - typical smart libertarian move there [which the car companies could benefit from].

On another note - the Whole Foods market cannot legally prevent workers from unionizing -
I'm particularly anti-union myself, knowing the incredibly damage unions can do [cough car companies cough]
The union busting incident occured in 2002, and was dealt with accordingly.

"During the late 1990s, the UFW persuaded several large supermarket chains to sign a pledge in support of improved wages and working conditions for strawberry pickers. Whole Foods chose instead to support the farmworkers directly by holding a "National 5% Day" where five percent of that day's sales — $125,000 — were donated to organizations which provide social services to farmworkers"

Green-wise the company is superb as well as Whole Foods placed fifth on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the "Top 25 Green Power Partners", and has received several awards for it's support and useage of green technology.

Whole foods is run by a libertarian who carries out his beliefs throughout the entire company - and it's pretty successful while becoming a beacon for other companies with lower standards. Of course the company has issues - but the goal of the company is to make money and provide good, safe products that do not harm the environment.

So, to sum it up-

kudos to John Mackey!

I betcha' it is!

In referring to the aforementioned article Mackey used his wife's name (that's what I heard elsewhere) to "infiltrate" Yahoo message boards responding to any posts he found criticizing him and his company. Seems he's found this blog, too.

I personally belonged to a union once, and they helped me as a human being worker. I never regretted belonging to one, and if I work for a company that has one again, I will definitely sacrifice the portion of my paycheck that could be spent at ... say ... Wal-Mart for union dues that benefit workers and their responsible livelihoods. Union members are not greedy and are not necessarily extravagant consumerists. Union members belong so they can live with dignity as tax-paying, rent/mortgage-paying, law-abiding contributors to society, period. Some are ... shockingly ... Republicans. I knew a few Republican union members when I belonged to one. We got along learning to agree to disagree, and about each other in the process. It was also my personal introduction to social-justice "movements." While PETA was for one person, unions were for me.

So ... if this is Mackey ... I'm letting him know now that he might not feel very comfortable here.

i'm not denise richards, but it is complicated...

i appreciate your sentiments debbie. i personally avoid shopping at any national chains as much as possible. but it certainly is a complicated landscape out there, especially for lower-income folks and folks with less-accessibility to fresh, local goods.

on the one hand you can look at whole foods as a lesser of two evils. or you can look at the success of whole foods as a representation of how our world has shifted from big agriculture, canned goods, preservatives etc to more of an awareness of organics, the green movement etc.

i'm constantly wondering whether that's a healthy thing or not. the more "popular" certain movements become, the more likely it is that some big corporation is going to figure out how to bastardize that idea to make the most money possible and staying just inside the legal and moral lines to suck-in the casual consumer, who thinks their doing the right thing. i'm thinking of things like industrial organics, bio-diesel and things of that sort. when you take anything to a massive scale like that it becomes counter to what the original intent was.

oh one more thing i thought was interesting. i just read this somewhere recently (maybe on this blog?) last year's new oxford dictionary word of the year was <a href "">locavore</a>. it's a movement!

okay, enough of my ramblings. thanks for the discussion!

~ toni ~


<p>i appreciate your thoughts, toni. and i agree, it's complicated. </p><p>but i think more than anything, this speaks to the importance of any movement to at its base include a critique of capitalism. otherwise, the &quot;movement&quot; is going to be commodified and sold back as a watered-down version of what it once was. </p><p><a href="" target="_blank">paul hawken, who was involved with the beginnings of the natural food movement, has this to say about whole foods</a>:  </p><blockquote><p><i>Whole Foods dismantles local food webs and doesn't foster what the organic movement is about. The organic and natural-food movement that I helped kick off in the late '60s was the beginning of recreating regional food webs. Local stores started all around the country and they began to source locally, and whatever they couldn't get locally they got regionally, and whatever they couldn't get regionally they got nationally. In terms of produce and bakery goods and other food items, there was a huge diversity of suppliers in the United States because there was a huge diversity of stores. Whole Foods went in and bought out the bigger, more successful stores and then rebranded them and did centralized purchasing for produce, which now comes from Chile and New Zealand and places like that. In the process, many local organic producers went out of business. Massive scale and centralization of power and capital is the antithesis of what we had in mind when we started the natural and organic-food business in the U.S. </i></p></blockquote>

grey areas

Indeed, it is complicated.

This post raises some good points and I agree the current capitalist system is fraught with challenges. However, I think Whole Foods is a hybrid version which links up some regular capitalist ideology (i.e., centralization and the profit motive) with some more sustainable and social-oriented ideology. It's not perfect, but it is certainly better than your typical Price Chopper or Shaws or what-have-you. Some other mainstream supermarkets are starting to follow suit with at least having a "natural foods" section (some Star Markets + Wegmans) and this is certainly not a bad thing.

As for independent natural and organic businesses, this may offend some, but some of these "businesses" are run by people who have no business sense. Much as I like to support them, a number of these smaller stores have been very negative experiences for me, in terms of spoiled or buggy foods and in one case, expiration dates having been modified. And of course, the selection is very limited.

The local food movement is a great idea and I would advocate supporting it as much as possible, but I disagree that it is possible to entirely live off the local food market, especially as a vegetarian. Many climates are not conducive to year round produce or indeed the full range of produce that one may need to eat healthily. If you live in any climate with a winter, you're going to buy non-local, unless of course you have a few hundred extra hours or so with which to can or freeze your fresh summer produce for use in the winter.

That said, the best way to eat local (which is getting cheaper due to rising transportation costs, contrary to one of the posters above), at least in summer-autumn, is to visit local farmstands and farmer's markets. For anyone else living in MA, here is a list of farmer's markets:

the first time i ever heard

the first time i ever heard of wholefoods, it was because they had a policy against hairy legs and armpits for female workers. the second time, it was about inhumane strawberries. i haven't trusted them since. it doesn't help that their vegan selection isn't any better than smaller stores, and in places other than nyc (where i live) there is practically no premade fresh vegan selection.

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