Boycotting Whole Foods

I don't tend to shop at Whole Foods because they offer a value proposition that does not appeal to me.  Their prices are too high for products that generally don't seem noticeably better than ones I can get in other stores.  To some extent the placebo effect of having "all natural" on the package does not really work for me, though I do buy most of my fish and meat there  (and not just because I like the irony of buying only meat products from a store populated by vegans).

That said, I like having the choice in stores.  I even drop by a farmers market once in a while, though generally the hassle is not worth it for me.  The same is true in beers -- I am seldom in the mood for something as dark and rich as a Belhaven, I love the explosion of choices in beer we have seen since the dark days of the late 70's/early 80's.  Other people will make different choices.  Cool.

Which makes it all the more ironic that those who benefit from the explosion in retail choice in the free marketplace are using that choice to protest the CEO of Whole Foods for advocating similar levels of choice in health care.  Anyway, I would write more but Radley Balko did a much better job here.

You see, he shared his ideas on health care reform, thinking that you, being so famously open-minded and all, might take to a few of them, or that it at least might start a conversation. I guess he felt he'd built up some cache with you, and wanted to introduce you to some new ideas. His mistake wasn't in intentionally offending his customers. He's a businessman who has built a huge company up from the ground. I'm sure he knows you don't deliberately offend your customers. His mistake was assuming you all were open-minded enough consider these ideas without taking offense"”that you wouldn't throw a tantrum merely because he suggested some reforms that didn't fall in direct line with those endorsed by your exalted Democratic leaders in Washington. In retrospect? Yeah, it was a bad move. Turns out that many of you weren't nearly mature enough to handle it.

Its hard even to understate the how absolutely nuts self-styled "progressives" have gone over this pretty tame and sober editorial in the IBD.  Here is just one example -- this is a mainstream green blogger and not some weird comment to a Kos post.  I honestly thought this was satire at first:

I agree with CEO John Mackey that it's okay to make money by making your green business big. But Mackey crossed the line with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this weekend, whose very publication put him in the company of the lunatic right-wing fringe who edit the paper's opinion section.

The op-ed reads like a page from the Republican playbook, touting individual responsibility for one's health. What a load of unorganic crap!

Holy brothers-keeper Batman - He's advocating individual responsibility!!  Here, since I have not reproduced it before, are the "lunatic" ideas of Mr. Mackey:

"¢"‰Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).

"¢"‰Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.

"¢"‰Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.

"¢"‰Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.

"¢"‰Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

"¢"‰Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.

"¢"‰Enact Medicare reform.

"¢"‰Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren't covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

The tort reform area is one where Obama is particularly disingenuous. It is just amazing that anyone could write about the cost of medicine being driven by too many useless procedures without once mentioning the words malpractice or defensive medicine.  I wonder if this might explain Obama's silence on tort reform (via maggies farm)



  1. Zach:

    Progressives love to pat themselves on the back for being tolerant, but if you're rich by your own hand, a fundamentalist Christian (fundamentalist Muslims are OK), a skeptic of anthropogenic climate change, or anti-abortion, you'll find out real quick just how tolerant they are.

  2. nicole:

    Small correction--the Mackey op-ed was in the Journal, not IBD (your link is right, though).

    Also, I've been surprised at how many comments I've read from progressives that I thought were satire or sarcastic, or thought were comments otherwise against the progressive position, but turned out to be...not.

  3. alanstorm:

    If you read any comments from lefties about this, you'll notice they keep wrapping themselves in the flag of the "free market", i.e. they can CHOOSE to spend their money elsewhere, and how dare anyone else comment on it! Why can't they take that attitude with anything else?

    It seems that there are many people out there who are not as interested in providing health care to most of the population as they are in giving government more power over the health care system.

  4. Evil Red Scandi:

    I used to shop at Whole Foods because their produce was fresher (thus necessitating fewer trips to the market), but it always amazed me what complete assholes many of their customers were. In parking lots you sometimes see people who will hold up half a dozen others waiting for somebody to load their car, get in and drive off so that they could save the effort of walking an extra hundred or so feet by parking slightly further away. It's the rule rather than the exception at our local Whole Foods (whose parking lot is poorly contrived in the first place). I often drive around the block so I can make a right-hand turn into it rather than having to wait and fight through traffic with an unprotected left-hand turn. I actually had a lady start screaming at me recently because I wouldn't let her turn left in front of me (hey, right-of-way can be a bitch). I've always considered Whole Foods parking lots as perfect demonstration grounds for the "fuck the traffic laws / common courtesy / common sense - it's all about me! me! me!" aspect of progressivism.

    Fortunately, one of our other local supermarkets has started offering produce of equivalent freshness (and not overpriced organic), so I now shop somewhere else.

  5. morganovich:

    in another interesting bit of legalistic hypocrisy, it's worth noting that the "government option" to compete with private plans is specifically and explicitly freed from the tort liability faced by all other plans and practitioners. i believe this halo goes so far to to protect a doctor treating a patient under a government plan. treble damages etc are specifically disallowed.

    so, obviously, they understand the problem. but mitigating it selectively for themselves and not for others is hardly creating a level playing field...

  6. Rick:

    The reason "progressives" are reacting so irrationally to this is because Mackey stripped them of an illusion.

  7. me:

    Hate to say it, but the reason "progressives" react "like that" is because both are blatant over-generalizations. Don't go judging classes by bad personal examples, lest we'll all be compared to the likes of Bush, Palin or Limbaugh. If that happens, I might choose to go communist just to put some distance between me and the "fascists".

  8. Craig:

    What's the opposite of a boycott, in which you shop somewhere you don't normally frequent in order to support them?

  9. JohnB:

    The bullet-point summary of Mackey's ideas is the best health-care reform plan I have seen. It makes perfect sense and is party-neutral ... which is why it will never pass in Congress.

    BTW, I plan to do more shopping at Whole Foods in honor of Mackey's advocacy.

  10. Earle Williams:


    That's an endorsement. :-)

    It seems that one is supposed to take individual responsibility for such varied elements as the annual meltback of Arctic ice and the size of non-migratory birds in Australia. But individual responsibility for your own health and health care? What are you, some kind of racist?

  11. Neo:

    “I'm not a vegetarian, but I eat animals who are” -- Groucho Marx

  12. Elliot:

    Pretty good points, all. But to morganovich, I need to repeat some one else's great line,

    "The government competes with private industry the way an alligator competes with a duck. They consume it."

    Whole foods no longer sells the food I used to go there for, boo hoo. Yes, it was something I ate.