Explain the Correlation...

I am confused as to why a preference for overpriced organic foods and a preference for government monopoly control of health care are necessarily correlated at the 1.0 level.  But apparently they are.  Maybe its a common desire to overpay for basic necessities?


  1. Larry Sheldon:

    You can't be serious!

    It is obvious! The common thread is People Who Have Perfect Knowledge taking complete and absolute control over the lives of the plebes for whom they are responsible.

  2. ColoComment:

    Yah, when I read that this morning, I wondered who these customers thought they were, that the CEO of their grocery market was required to toe their philosophical and political line on government policies. Like, does it not occur to them that, given that he's founder and CEO of a very successful business, maybe, just maybe, he KNOWS what he's talking about when it comes to the economics of this proposed drastic reformation of the health industry in this country?


    ...because apparently they don't understand that all this proposed give-away health care has to be (dare I say it?) paid for.

  3. sabril:

    You seriously don't know about SWPLs?


  4. silvermine:

    Actually, I recently started going to whole foods. I determined that I was gluten intolerant, and I've been having a heck of a time figuring out what I can eat and what I can't. (Gluten is in so many more things than you think it is).

    I went to Whole Foods, hoping for at least a slightly bigger selection of gluten-free items (since they do have a lot of specialty items) and not only did they have more of that than I imagined even existed in the world, they had a helpful little green tag that said "gluten free" happily sitting there on the shelf next to the price.

    Until you've been there, you have no idea how much that meant to me. I swear, I nearly cried in the salad dressing aisle. (Okay, that was the pregnancy talking...)

    Anyway, Whole Foods provides a lot of specialty items and information that a lot of people like. Sure it's over-priced. If I was suddenly poor, I'd just stop eating breads and crackers and not pay $5 for a box of 30 crackers. ;D But since it's my money and I really like a little crackers and cheese, it's how I choose to splurge right now. They also have a nice cheese department, where it's easy to see what kind of animal the milk came from (I have a bit of an allergic reaction to cow milk, too.)

    Interestingly, I actually wrote to whole foods today, to thank them for the nice green gluten free labels, and also to say I was pleasantly surprised and happy with the health care opp ed the CEO wrote. I ended up getting a form letter back assuring me that it was about health reform and that it was the CEO's personal opinion and shouldn't be tied to the company. I'm guessing they're having a PR nightmare. But the person who read my comment didn't even understand I approved of it...

  5. Michael:

    Who says organic food is over priced. Much store produce is picked unripe, with a preference for size and durability for shipping, then gassed at the destination to create the illusion for the customer that it is ripe. Taste and nutrition come in dead last in the agro business. Dido for meat. I'll take a pastured cow or bird over a chemical-corn feed animal any day. Having spent some of my summers on family wheat and dairy farms, you learn the extra time and effort is worth the price and taste.

    Note: I'm not in to the organic or local movement. Conventional agriculture is just fine for many foods, but there are some foods that are best bought local while at the peak of the season.

    But to your point. Free people should be able to buy quality food or not, and free people should be able to buy quality medical care or not. There is no correlation. If the media tried hard enough, they could find someone at an NRA meeting that supported government run health care. There is no shortage of idiots in America.

  6. John Moore:

    It's culture. A subculture of America has a strongly correlated set of views: global warming is scary and we have to do something NOW; it is immoral to not eat "organic" foods; profit is evil; doing little things grants one graces (ecological indulgence selling); religion is evil; governmet is good, except when it is defending you from evil people (whose evil isn't their fault anyway);... etc, etc.

    For a good satirical look at this, watch Mike Judge's new cartoon series "The Goode Family." If you aren't part of the subculture, you'll be ROFLMAO'ing. If you are part of the subculture, you won't get it.

    Oh, and a central part of the show is the frequent visits to a satirical Whole Foods.

  7. darkstar:

    Good one. There was a noteworthy TED talk concerning dominant qualities in self-identified liberal vs conservative audiences. Purity, specifically including the assumption that eating pure/good food was worthwhile was one of the liberal hallmarks.

  8. morganovich:

    many of these people are just the perpetually outraged. they are always looking for the next thing to be upset about and wield their political affiliations and beliefs like a club. to me, it looks exhausting... i could not care less for whom the guy i buy gas from votes.
    i'll bet you $20 she's shopping at whole foods again in 2 weeks once the phony outrage wears off.

    apart from the absurdity of somehow assuming that the political beliefs of a business owner must reflect those of his customers, what ought to embarrass folks like those quoted is this: whole foods employees LOVE their health plan. it's both cheaper and better than most others and has higher employee satisfaction. it's one of the key reasons why whole foods is rated such a great company to work for.

    perhaps before getting on their high horses and pontificating about helping the workers (likely from the seat of a mercedes) they might actually bother to ask the workers what they want. i realize it's a radical idea, but...

  9. Rick:

    Purchasing expensive organic food in the market is voluntary. Government monopoly control of health care is not. I don't see a correlation.

    I know a lot of people who aren't orthodox liberals who shop at Whole Foods. I sometimes shop there. Yes, some of their items are more expensive but I like some of the food. It's just a personal preference.

    I think there is a tendency among conservatives and libertarians to correlate organic food with liberals. But we defend a persons right to get fat eating cheeseburgers at McD's and then complain about the false stereotype that we're all just fat rednecks who "shill" for fast food. Sure, some liberals shop at Whole Foods. But let's not stereotype too much because that actually plays into the lefts hands.

    Mackey had the stones to speak up for the market and criticize the health care "reform" proposal, knowing full well how some of his customers would likely react. I think he should be commended for that. Let's not turn this into a "organic is stupid" pontification.

  10. epobirs:

    Rick, there is a considerable difference to my experience.

    Carl Karcher, of Carls Jr. fame, was an ardent anti-abortion supporter and came under attack for his donations. Likewise for the founder of Domino's Pizza. But I've never felt anything remotely like a political stance when entering one of those establishments and I'd find it annoying if I did. Whole Foods is the opposite of this. You cannot enter one of those stores without encountering myriad companies whose packages are festooned with their beliefs. While the company tries to keep it sane, it is pretty much impossible to run such a business without attracting a lot of customers who have an intense holier-through-organics-than-thou attitude. Catering to those customers in turn tinge the feel of the shopping experience for others.

    It's kind of like why when given a choice between going into a Barnes & Noble or a Borders, I'll favor the former because Borders is so concerned with living up to some lefty ideals that they allow their personnel to be repugnant. A bookstore is one of the places I'd hope not to encounter someone with more metal attached to the outside of their head than I had in my mouth as a 70s teenager with braces. (Orthodonture has greatly improved since then.) They may be equal under the law but I'll take my business to the store has more stringent appearance requirements of their employees. They don't have to be pretty but serious self-mutilation is right out. Given the choice, I'm going somewhere else.

    I get enough of businesses patting themselves on the back for being 'green' or some other self-proclaimed virtue, as in mainstream supermarkets. Going into Whole Foods can feel like you've entered a special sanctified domain of the good people. They may not say it outright but the vibe is there and it attracts those who really believe it.

  11. Rick:


    I understand where you're coming from. Labels that proclaim virtue can be annoying, but that's just lazy marketing. That said, I think you're over-analyzing a bit.

    The people at Carls Jr. or my local Safeway don't exactly have "stringent appearance requirements" either. I've never felt the vibe you mentioned. At my local Whole Foods the service is good and reasonably friendly. I have been treated rudely at a local Winco and WalMart (no grudges though). I'm not saying that "holier than thou" types don't shop at Whole Foods. But so what if they do? I just ignore the few people who maybe come across that way and I don't go out of my way to hang out at the grocery store anyway.

    I think we make a mistake by lowering ourselves to the liberals game of politicizing choices in the marketplace. Are we all just going to shop at places that are supposedly "conservative", "libertarian", "secular" or whatever, just because it's not liberal? I don't particularly care for conservative mainline Republican politics either, so should I stop shopping at a "conservative" or "corporate" business even if I like their product? If I did that I would limit my consumer choices considerably, which is exactly what the environmentalist left wants.

  12. ColoComment:

    After a re-read of the article and these comments, I'm reminded of a saying of my mother's: something about cutting off your nose to spite your face. It seems to fit this situation. That is, deciding to not shop at your fave grocery because you don't like the free speech of the owner. Since I figure that this Whole Foods "boycott" won't have the lifespan of a guppy, I suspect it's only the politicizing shopper that probably will be affected to any appreciable extent.

  13. heretic:

    This is so funny.
    When I read Mackey's article, my very first thought was wondering if it would alienate his customer base.

    Must sting to be "betrayed" by their poster boy CEO.

  14. MJ:

    Whole Foods -- it's not really about the food.

    Kind of reminds me of the slogan of the Bakers' Square restaurant chain: "Good food, good feelings". Yep, that just about covers it.

  15. jturner:

    On a somewhat related note, I think a good investment strategy right now is to short the stock of a company like Whole Foods. It's stock has had a huge run in the past 6 months, the company has a lot of debt, and it will continue to suffer from the recession as many of its customers are forced to trade down to cheaper grocery stores. I also feel that investing in gold is another good option, because it will continue to benefit from all of the money printing used to finance the bailouts and stimulus programs. Here is a good discussion on the gold price and how it should do in this environment: http://goldpriceblog.org/