Monday, August 17, 2009

Whole Foods brouhaha

Last week, the CEO of Whole Foods wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal. In it, he laid out his (I believe) misguided ideas about health care and the role of personal responsibility in health. My own thoughts on this are that the world is much more complicated than a gentleman who can afford to not take a salary for a year would be able to see. He also threw in some fat bashing at the end of his opinion piece.

None of this endeared me to this CEO (whose name I can never remember...I think I'm blocking it), but I've been a little surprised that there is a movement to boycott Whole Foods. Which is then accompanied by the annoying reactions of some people to bash the boycott.

I'm not going to bash the boycott, but I guess that I don't believe such an action will 1) accomplish anything on the broader healthcare debate or 2) change the attitudes of the CEO. It also runs counter to my desire to support a company that, otherwise, holds a number of things valuable that I also value: environmental awareness, donation of precentage of profits to community programs, excellent customer service, and availabillity of products that I can use.

This last one is an important piece to me, I recognize this. Since realizing that I cannot eat gluten, I have spent a lot of time shopping places where I have to read every label I pick up. The lack of gluten free (gf) products in most places is down-right maddening. The only other grocer that comes this close to being gf-friendly is Trader Joe's...but most of their stuff is not clearly marked or, if it has no gluten products, was made on equipment that may be contaminated with gluten. (Also, TJs gf list contains a disclaimer that the shopper should always read the ingredients even if they are on the gf list, in case they are no long gf. Thanks!)

Even at Whole Foods, large portions of the store are off limits to me. But, at least, I can do most of my shopping in one place. It is expensive, but shopping gf is often expensive regardless of where I have to go.

I guess I am left feeling rather perplexed. Perhaps, my life is so entangled with the corporate world (I work in a medical corporation, I have a partner who worked at a drug company, I even shop at corporations that have policies on labor and unions that I don't agree with...since most grocery stores have anti-union shops, I'm guessing that you do too) that I understand that there are things that I need to hold a line about and things I don't.

In this case, I don't feel the need to hold the line about this. I don't believe that this one letter is going to cause more problems than the horrible scenes at a few town halls that have been getting ad nauseum air time on FOX. Indeed, I believe that paying attention to it has caused it to be a rallying point for people who are terribly reactionary. This, in my opinion, helps no one.

Friends of mine are taking a different stand on this, and I respect their right to speak's a bit odd to find myself on the disagreeing end of this, though.


Hippie Chick said...

I know this is an aside from your main points but farmer joe's has a bunch of clearly marked gluten-free products and I see more trickling in each time I go (big store is on fruitvale between highway exit and MacArthur Blvd)

spinsterwitch said...

I do love Farmer Joe's.

Aravis said...

We don't have a Whole Foods around here, so I'm out of the loop on this one. Your reasoning makes sense to me. :0)