Slate takes on the Whole Foods evil empire

This week Slate rips the lid off of the corporate excesses of mega-death corporation Whole Foods, in an article entitled “Is Whole Foods Wholesome?”, the basic gist of which seems to be:

1. Whole Foods charges more money for a superior product.

2. Their employees are happy, by and large, and fairly compensated.

3. It costs more to ship a tomato from Chile than from across town.

4. The farmer pictured in their marketing flyers may not have personally picked your corn.

My God, they’re practically the next Halliburton.

4 Comments so far

  1. Kyle (unregistered) on March 19th, 2006 @ 5:16 pm

    While I don’t think the article was explosive in any way and I consider myself a happy Whole Foods Customer, I think you’re being a bit unfair in your dismissive charcterization of it. I think that it makes some good points, particularly regarding how the words ‘organic’ and ‘small family farm’ have become synonymous when the reality is very different. Further, I think that the idea of ‘healthy food’ as a luxury item and a two tiered food supply is one that deserves comment and debate.

  2. Ray (unregistered) on March 19th, 2006 @ 5:52 pm

    It makes one or two good points, but the tone of the article is inflammatory, and its discussion somewhat superficial. And it unfairly targets Whole Foods, as if Whole Foods, because of its size, is to blame for all the issues raised.

    Consider the subtitle: “The dark secrets of the organic-food movement”. Come on. If a “movement” has “dark secrets”, there better be at least a few dead bodies involved, or you’re blowing smoke.

    The paragraph about choosing between local conventionally-grown tomatoes or organic Chilean ones is a poorly-aimed smear. You could rewrite that whole section and make Whole Foods’ practices praiseworthy…they label produce as organic or conventional, and they label it with the point of origin, and let the consumer make a now-well-informed choice as to which they want to buy. Rather not eat pesticides? Go with organic. Prefer to minimize the burning of fossil fuels in shipping? Go with the local. I’m wondering where the “dark side” is.

    The point about a two-tiered pricing model for food is a good one, but again, why vilify Whole Foods? Show me the grocery where organic produce costs the same as conventially-grown. It’s an industry-wide pricing practice. If Slate wants to actually do the reader some good, why not a discussion about why organic produce costs more?

    The Slate article is fluff dressed up with some faux-controversy to cover up its lack of substance. They can do better.

  3. Hiromi (unregistered) on March 19th, 2006 @ 6:30 pm

    The only cite given for the claim that small farmers make up only a small (never quantified) percentage is a quote from a small farmer in the Northeast. Providing this info would’ve strengthened the writer’s position.

    About the local produce – this assertion is based on anecdote; namely, two visits the writer made to the Whole Foods in NYC.

    “The organic-food movement is in danger of exacerbating the growing gap between rich and poor in this country by contributing to a two-tiered national food supply, with healthy food for the rich.”

    Given the relative scarcity of organic products, it’s going to be a luxury item. This is economics, not a dark conspiracy hatched by the “organic movement,” a category portrayed as monolithic and homogeneous by the writer.

    “Could Wal-Mart’s populist strategy prove to be more “sustainable” than Whole Foods? Stranger things have happened.”

    Populist? What the hell is so populist about exploiting your workers and suppliers? Anyway, I’ll vote with my dollars and support a company that provides its workers with a living wage.

    Polemic, with no proof. The claims the writer makes may or may not be true, but if these accusations are made, the least s/he could’ve done is provided some evidence.

  4. M1EK (unregistered) on March 20th, 2006 @ 1:37 pm

    I agree partially with most of the comments, but found #3 to be especially dismissive. Yes, the cost in crude oil of moving produce from Chile to the US is not only economic, but also environmental. It’s certainly reasonable to ask whether “organic” produce which has to burn a bunch more fuel to get here is really better for us than conventional stuff next door.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.