Boycotting Whole Foods: Productive or Petty?

If you’ve spend any amount of time listening to supporters and protestors of the impendings health care reform policy go back and forth about their particular points of view, then there’s a good chance you heard about the founder of Whole Foods performing a complicated foot-in-mouth procedure while voicing his opinions on the topic.

In case you didn’t, read his vivacious disagreement with a universal health care system now.

The fallout from the opinion piece, which was posted in the Wall Street Journal, has got a lot of Whole Foods shoppers up in arms and shouting boycott. Before you jump on the bandwagon, there are a few things to consider about the organic grocery CEO and the possibility of a boycott.

1. Will it accomplish anything?

John Mackey, the outspoken founder of Whole Foods that has created all this ruckus has always been an avid libertarian. Until now, he’s just done a better job of keeping his viewpoints under wraps. So, if you’ve been shopping at Whole Foods this whole time, you’ve been supporting these opinions whether you like it or not. Do you really think that he’ll change his mind because of a boycott? And, in the event that he does publicly retract the statement, do you think it would be genuine?

2. Will it really affect healthcare policy?

Boycotts are very powerful tools, especially when it comes to product manufacturers. However, it takes a lot of people and a lot of really concerted efforts to make them effective. Although he’s very wealthy and probably supports politicians that think the same way about health care reform, being part of a small percentage of people who by his products is going to be far less productive than accurate information and voter participation. Write your congressional representative. Join community discussions. Pickett. Sign petitions. These are tactics that have the potential to make and impact.

3. Consider what you’ll really be missing.

Everyone in the sustainability movement has an opinion about Whole Foods. It’s too expensive. It’s elitist. It’s doesn’t really sell that much local or organic food. However, many people depend on whole foods for access to healthy, local food for their families. Some towns have other options, and there’s always the farmers’ market, but what if the only other option is Wal-Mart…is a boycott worth it?

4. Last, but not least, John Mackey doesn’t own Whole Foods, it is a publicly traded entity. Although he may have the power to speak as its voice, there are hundreds, and probably thousands of Whole Foods employees that feel very differently.

Read more about the Whole Foods Boycott controversy here.

Image Credit:


Shannon S.
Shannon G.6 years ago

Watch out, now people will be boycotting your book!

Beth B.
Beth Buczynski6 years ago

UPDATE: Michael Pollan Denounces Whole Foods Boycott -

Shannon S.
Shannon G.7 years ago

Stephen and Con c. -I am sorry that you dont apprieciate me, but I was not looking for your approval, and I didnt know that you speak for everyone. I have a problem with people losing their jobs because you dont like what their boss says. This man being ousted is not going to hurt him, he has already made his money and has a golden parachut, what you are hurting is the average every day person trying to earn a buck to put food on the table. I have 5 friends that work full time at this orginization who would not be able to feed their kids if they lost their jobs. Unless, all those who are boycotting are willing to foot the bill for the people that lose their jobs? Can my girlfriends 2 year old count on your support?

Jeffrey W.
Jeffrey W.7 years ago

LOL. You can tell when the left is failing by the way they resort to ever more absurd distortions and misrepresentations.

The post below either ignorantly or dishonestly tries to give the impression that investors are pressuring Whole Foods to remove the CEO. If you follow the link, however, you find something entirely different. CtW is a leftist activist group, not a real investment group. The investors, which are the people who actually own the stock in total, have shown their support of the company through the increased stock price since the publication of Mackey's piece. Since then the price has gone from $27.56 to it's current price of $29.06 (WFMI) at the time of this posting. That's an increase of 5% in a little more than a week, and enables me to truthfully say investors back the current organiation.

Beth B.
Beth Buczynski7 years ago

UPDATE: The heat on Mackey at WholeFoods continues, now investors calling for his removal.

Cindy M.
Cindy M.7 years ago

If there are other stores in your area that take the place of Whole Foods, a boycott won't affect neighborhoods where it's the only option. At least I don't see how. If a store does good in an area, can't it stand on its own? I've been boycotting the danged store ever since it moved to my area, and not just because it seems to be the wal-mart of "health-food", them and Trader Joe's. but because their knowledge and concern was far less qualified to Natural Grocers/Vitamin Cottage. It's the only chain I shop at. Right now, at least, they're the most socially responsible grocery chain in my area. Plus they're cheaper.
And Mark G, your words seem to say what you're all about, so I don't feel anybody needs to worry about speaking another word in defense of your ignorant cruelty.

Jeffrey W.
Jeffrey W.7 years ago

I can certainly understand why you wouldn't, but you hardly speak for everybody.

I don't appreciate your ill-informed comments.

Stephen and Con c.
Dael e.7 years ago

Jefff and Shannon, I don't think anyone here appreciates your condescension

Shannon S.
Shannon G.7 years ago

Since when is it a crime to merge with another company? Any how is this an Anti Trust Issue? Im right there with you, where is the laughing dude icon.

Stephen and Con c.
Dael e.7 years ago

I really thought there were serious anti-trust issues when WF merged with Wild Oats. That si all we see are corporate mergers and takeovers and the poor getting poorer.

We shopped Wild Oats for years and there were other health concerns bought right out from under us.

We had a local cooperative distribution center sold out to a firm from europe and now part of Unfi, a for profit corporation.

We need anti-trust supervision. We are tired of the corporate raiders nightmare in health food and health care!