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Whole Foods Backlash & Boycott: Bloggers Outraged Over CEO's Anti-'ObamaCare' Column

Business  (tags: Boycott Whole Foods, John Mackey, Poll, Whole Foods, Whole Foods CEO, Whole Foods Ceo John Mackey, Whole Foods John Mackey, Whole-Foods-Boycott, Green News )

- 3226 days ago -
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's recent Wall Street Journal op-ed on health care which argues against President Obama's health reform proposals has caused a firestorm throughout progressive communities

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Blue Bunting (855)
Tuesday August 18, 2009, 9:05 pm

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Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's recent Wall Street Journal op-ed on health care which argues against President Obama's health reform proposals has caused a firestorm throughout progressive communities and on HuffPost.

Mackey wrote:

"The last thing our country needs is a massive new health care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health care system."

He instead suggested healthy food -- preferably purchased from Whole Foods -- as an answer to our health care woes:

"Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat."

HuffPost News Editor Lila Shapiro points out:

For those of you who are tempted to follow Mackey's advice (and can afford it!) be warned: not all of the foods found at Whole Foods will actually make you healthy. As Mackey himself admitted [recently], "Basically, we used to think it was enough just to sell healthy food, but we know it is not enough. We sell all kinds of candy. We sell a bunch of junk."

HuffPost bloggers have taken some strong stances on the issue.

Ben Wyskida has decided he's done with shopping at Whole Foods, not only over the health care op-ed, but because he disagrees with many public stances Mackey has taken, like his opposition the the Employee Free Choice Act:

To me, it's pretty basic: Mackey is working to oppose things I believe in, so I should stop giving him money. That's not easy: I spend a lot of money on food. I also spend a lot of money at Whole Foods.

Wyskida's blog received enthusiastic support on Facebook, with the vast majority of commenters declaring they'd boycott, and one reader stating she'd even sold her stock over the issue.

Also on HuffPost, Ethan Nichtern declared that he's no longer shopping there:

I am not going to support [Mackey's] cognitive dissonance.... with any more of my hard-earned local-organic-neo-hippie-spinach money.

Blue Bunting (855)
Tuesday August 18, 2009, 9:12 pm
Is $tarbucck'$ listening? mornin' Joe, anyone?

Simone Duffin (1462)
Tuesday August 18, 2009, 9:52 pm
Thank you Blue.

Blue Bunting (855)
Wednesday August 19, 2009, 1:48 pm
You're welcome, Simone! I was in Trader Joe's today ... usually on a Wednesday afternoon they don't have all the registers open ... today the store is jammed and all the registers are open and the lines are almost around the store -- they were wondering why they got so busy ... and I told them about the boycott on whole Foods (which is two blocks away, on the same street, here in NYC)!

I sold my 200 shares of Whole Foods ...

Step up, people -- vote with your wallet$!

Blue Bunting (855)
Wednesday August 19, 2009, 3:41 pm
Oh My Goddne$$ ..... Whole Food$ may have to give up its BIG $TORE on 14 Street in Manhattan ... and I hope that Trader Joe's can mov eright in ... with their "normal prices" and PORTIONS for real people ...

VOTE WITH YOUR WALLET ... do NOT enter stores with CEOs collecting high $alarie$ who$e opinion$ differ from your$.

Nancy L (141)
Friday August 21, 2009, 12:21 pm
The post below is from a guy named captusa1, entitled:
And Yes I do have his permission to use it.

Do You Know Who You Are Boycotting?
posted at 8/21/2009 7:05 AM CDT

* Mackey lectures at Universities about the horrors of factory farming
* He says “Right now, Americans have to pretend factory farms don’t exist. They turn their eyes away, because there’s no alternative, there’s no choice. Once there is a choice, we will allow ourselves to be outraged.”
* He makes $1 a year and donates his stock portfolio to charity.
* He set up a $100,00 fund to help his employees with personal problems.
* He’s a vegetarian and his company will not buy from producers that treat their animals unethically.
* He flies commercial, rents the smallest cars, and stays in the cheapest hotel rooms - not because he’s cheap, but because he has no need for largesse
* He and his wife participate in yoga
* He gives over $1 million a year to animal welfare groups, education, relief work, and spiritual movements.
* Employees have full say in who they work with - a new employee must receive a 2/3 vote in order to make it past probation.
* Employees also vote on all company-wide initiatives
* There’s a salary book in every store - “no secrets” management believes everyone should know how much everyone else is making
* Executive salaries are capped at 14 times the lowest workers salary - If they want more money, everyone else has to get more money first
* Non-executive employees hold 94% of company stock options
* Pay is linked to team performance - profit sharing
* At least 5% of annual profits go to local charities
* Full-timers get 100% of their health care costs paid for - under plans the employees have selected
* “They just have a lot more respect for you as a person here” says an employee

And because he had a different idea about how the United States can fix it health care situation, none of this matters? He’s a caring person and many of you want to treat him like a monster. Why? Not because he opposes reform, but because he’s bringing more ideas to the table.

You people are despicable. If the country had more CEO’s like Mackey, this country would be a greater place

Blue Bunting (855)
Saturday August 22, 2009, 8:59 am

Whole Foods Hit By Single Payer Protests

Single payer activists picketed against Whole Foods stores around the country. Activists from Single Payer Action urged shoppers to boycott Whole Foods stores in Austin, Texas, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

Blue Bunting (855)
Saturday August 22, 2009, 9:04 am
Here's the problem from a marketing perspective. The vast majority of WF customers lean liberal or progressive. Thus, when the CEO says something that appears to run contrary to that political leaning, it creates dissonance and possible mistrust because the WF brand is perceived to be in line with those beliefs. We often buy products and frequent certain stores because we believe they are a reflection of our values and, perhaps most importantly, we are even willing to pay more for that very reason (which explains why people pay more for a Prius). Whole Foods now has an image problem with some, perhaps many, of its base customers. Will some people continue to shop at WF? Sure -- because it's convenient or because they like their products. But others, now burned by this values disconnect, will not. The question moving forward is -- will enough of the company's base target market now choose to shop elsewhere or is this just a small ripple in a very big grocery pond? We shall see. One thing, though, is different. Bad news travels like lightning these days with blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, etc. That should make any company CEO take notice and think twice about his or her comments, regardless of their political leanings.

Blue Bunting (855)
Saturday August 22, 2009, 11:49 am
Here is a petition via

Here is the Facebook groupurging a boycott. There are over 10,000 members so far.

Here is a roundup of media coverage and information on boycott actions at local Whole Foods.

Here is some interesting perspective from Matthew Yglesias on the efficacy of a boycott.

Finally, you can call or write Whole Foods Corporate Offices at:
601 North Lamar St. Suite 300
Austin, TX 78703
512-477-1069 Fax

Check Whole Foods website for more addresses:

Blue Bunting (855)
Saturday August 22, 2009, 12:38 pm
When wingnut CEOs write op/ed pieces...Can Whole Foods Repair Its Image?Turns out comparing unions to herpes and raving against health care reform in The Wall Street Journal isn’t great for business, at least when your business sells granola to progressives, hippies and other Truthdig readers. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s efforts have earned him a boycott. Guess we’ll just have to get our gluten-free almond cookies elsewhere.

The Opinionator has a broad selection of reaction from the blogosphere. Top of its post is below. —PS

New York Times:

Of all the sideshows to the Great 2009 Health Care Debate, the Whole Foods boycott may take the prize as the most unexpected.

Last Wednesday, John Mackey, the chief executive of Whole Foods, took to the pages of The Wall Street Journal to opine that “we clearly need health care reform,” but arguing against the solutions being put forward by the administration: “The last thing our country needs is a massive new health care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health care system.”

Read more

Cynthia Davis (340)
Saturday August 22, 2009, 12:47 pm
NEL or NRL or Nancy who ever you are today, No one is saying they don't like Mackey after all he use to be a "democratic socialist" before he became filthy rich. We just don't like his veiws on health care. And we didn't need a history of the man. I don't care who he is I still don't like his veiw on health care.

Nancy L (141)
Saturday August 22, 2009, 2:22 pm
OK, but I guess I just don't understand why people want to destroy him personally because they disagree with him.

Nancy L (141)
Saturday August 22, 2009, 2:30 pm
How many people might lose their jobs if this mans business suffers? For what? Because you disagree on a public policy? I'm sure they have families to support. They will lose their healthcare!

Carrie B (306)
Saturday August 22, 2009, 2:55 pm
Whole Foods is too expensive for us anyway! We have a small Trader Joe's and a new large Sunflower Market here in Santa Fe. Most people would probably ignore a boycott of Whole Foods if they had reasonable prices so...

Carrie B (306)
Saturday August 22, 2009, 2:58 pm
Forgot to mention Whole Foods also owns a Wild Oats here in SF, and it is just down the street from Trader Joe's! How convenient!

Blue Bunting (855)
Saturday August 22, 2009, 3:49 pm
Ah yes, Carrie, we all should remember that when Wild Oats was a competitor of Whole Foods, John Mackey either personally or thru hired "swift boaters" posted hundreds/thousands of messages slandering Wild Oats ... on a financial new$ $ite, and then, of course, Mackey took over his competitor.

I prefer to shop at Trader Joe's ... people are more friendly and the prices are more friendly to my wallet!

Blue Bunting (855)
Saturday August 22, 2009, 7:13 pm
Thi$ i$ an Information WAR! VOTE WITH YOUR WALLET$:
Oprah, Dr. Oz Sue Over 50 Businesses Over Alleged False Endorsements

Cynthia Davis (340)
Sunday August 23, 2009, 11:32 am
NEL, I don't agree with anything you say either but I don't want to destroy you.

Nancy L (141)
Sunday August 23, 2009, 4:03 pm
Exactly my point Cynthia. That is normal. Trying to destroy someone or thier business because you disagree is not.

Blue Bunting (855)
Monday August 24, 2009, 3:15 pm
I still have a CHOICE whre I spend my $$$ and I can CHOOSE not to $hop at Whole Food$

Blue Bunting (855)
Tuesday August 25, 2009, 2:54 pm
Remember what the ReTHUG$ did to the Dixie Chicks.
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