A British-American bluestocking living in the UK writes about politics, pop culture, and emerging new paradigms as they unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. (New content.)

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Support the "Buy-Cott" of Whole Foods---Shop at Whole Foods Market


Sometimes, I just don't get it. This whole health care reform debate is getting out of hand....on all sides.

John Mackey, the owner of "Whole Foods Market" wrote an Op-Ed piece for the "Wall Street Journal" in which he criticized the Obama Health Plan and instead, shared his views on what worked and worked effectively as a health care plan for his company. It was well-written, it made a lot of sense, it gave an alternative idea (instead of just hammering away without something better.) It was, in my opinion, a fine piece written by a man who had spent his career being extremely fair and generous to his employees and living in the most ecologically and fair way possible. His shops are filled with organic produce, fair trade items and healthy alternatives to what are on most grocery shelves in America. Whole Foods Market was my grocery stop and shop for many years when I lived in America, as I have been a vegetarian for most of my adult life now and my daughter has been a vegetarian since birth.

I doubt that Mr Mackey himself knew the vitriol that his well-thought out piece would provoke. It began a liberal backlash that ended up with a campaign to "boycott Whole Foods Market" because its owner did not support the health care bill. And this outlines the insanity of what the debates over health care have turned into...a basic barroom free-for-all. The supporters of the gigantic and befuddling health care bill are taking no prisoners and that is madness....absolute madness.

Here is a man who has stood for the highest principles of hiring and providing a good work environment and health benefits for his employees. You go into Whole Foods and you are greeted with workers who truly care about you and about their shops. Why? Because they know they work in an organization that cares about them. Mr. Mackey has been stellar in how he has conducted his business. He really should be an example to other businessmen across the globe. You don't have to import cheap goods from sweatshops or cheap pesticide-laden foods and treat your workers like chattel so that you can make a profit. He proves that you can treat your workers fairly, work with local farmers fairly, sell healthy non-sprayed produce and products that help others become self-sufficient and still be successful. It's about spreading the wealth and the health in a way that also benefits capitalism. Wow! Is that possible? Yes! Yes! Yes! Capitalism that helps everyone.

Boycott Whole Foods? No, no, no. How backward is it to boycott one of the few companies in America that is providing the care that health care reform bill advocates are championing? And why boycott the organization that actually holds up the standard for clean food and good health? To counteract this, an enterprising woman in Texas has organized a counter-protest...a "buy-cott". She is asking people to start shopping more at Whole Foods Market and especially asking people who have never been in its doors to do so. That's probably ridiculous, too....but it is working. Sales are up and the boycott is being eclipsed by the "buy-cott."

The irony of this whole situation is that most of the people who (until this "buy-cott" anyway) shopped at Whole Foods were liberals, Democrats, environmentalists, DeadHeads who now drive BMW's, Woodstockians, Madonna's macro crowd, Gwyneth's Goop Crowd, tree-huggers and alternative-types and people who cared about their health, fair trade and good food and organics. (And that would be me and most of my friends, by the way...and we all fit into one of the above categories.) So, Mackey basically spoke out knowing that he was probably going to offend his biggest market base. He was brave enough to speak out, to speak his truth and now, he is being dragged behind the organic produce truck.

He has a right to say what he wants to say without having to worry that his business will disappear, doesn't he? Whether we agree with him or not? Isn't that the American way? If he was a crook, that would be different. But he is an ethical man who runs an ethical business. Put the crooks away, not the people who care about making the world a better place. The health care bill supporters are barking up the wrong date palm tree.

Someone actually wrote..."....but he's in it for the money....it's all about just business..." I do believe that is how it works. Our country was built on the backs of small businesses that grew into larger businesses. Usually businesspersons are in it for the business and the money. Unless a person is independently wealthy, he/she usually has to care about the money so that he/she can turn a bit of a profit and live. Now, what a person does with the profit is another story. And John Mackey has been generous and shared his bounty. For that, he deserves our commendation, not our wrath.

Buy, buy, buy at Whole Foods Market. Support John Mackey and his workers. They are a a great example of a caring and ethical business model. This not a liberal or conservative issue...it's about how fairness and justice can co-exist with profit and people.


(You can read Mr. Mackey's controversial article and make up your own mind at:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204251404574342170072865070.html)