Can I Get a Cleanup?

Whole Foods is pretty

I love shopping at Whole Foods. I can get everything there. I mean everything – buffalo meat, gluten-free bread, almond milk, kohlrabi, sunchokes and fresh aloe leaves.

I was in there just the other day to buy a box of my favorite protein bars. My mission was meant to be quick – in and out. But I have to walk though produce and the produce is just so… gorgeous. I have to buy just a few of these heirloom navel oranges that look and smell so good. Then there are the fuji apples, my favorite, I get a few of those too. And the meat section… They actually have buffalo cuts – all the time. The cheese? Don’t even get me started on the cheese. It’s just so… decadent. Just stepping into the store feels like a treat. 

A few years ago, I read an article about the Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey who posed anonymously (as Rahodeb, a variation on his wife’s name) in the Yahoo Finance group for, like, seven years. Actually, the piece I read wasn’t really an article; it was more of a compilation — the greatest hits of his Yahoo posts. He wrote glowing reports of his work as Whole Food CEO and criticized the business model and management of Wild Oats, a competitor and business he later purchased. At one point he commented that he thought his own haircut looked “cute.”   

He’s back in the news again because he wrote an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal where he questions an individual’s right to health care. “A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That’s because there isn’t any. This “right” has never existed in America.”

Recently, I read this Mackey profile in the New Yorker . (Are you impressed by my publication name-dropping? I don’t ever read People Magazine, no sir, or watch Project Runway. What what? Did someone say Project Runway? Where?) Anyway, the piece included many of his most famous quotes (like the ones below) and even printed a few new stunners.

In the early 80’s Mackay told a reporter, “The Union is like having herpes. It doesn’t kill you, but it’s unpleasant and inconvenient, and it stops a lot of people from becoming your lover.”

And how about this little gem about global warming…

“…as he put it, ‘no scientific consensus exists’ regarding the cause of climate change; he added with a candor you could call bold or reckless, that it would be a pity to allow ‘hysteria about global warming’ to cause us ‘to raise taxes and in turn lower our standard of living and lead to an increase in poverty’… He also said, ‘Historically, prosperity tends to correlate to warmer temperatures.’”

Excuse me Mackey, can I get some assistance over here on aisle shut-the-hell-up?

I’m not foolish enough to think that everyone agrees on healthcare reform, unions or global warming, but will someone stop this dude from ruining his perfectly lovely store? Some of us organic-loving hysterical mommies are steadfast, earnest types who have to do what we believe is right for our families and our babies.

So, now what? This is the part of the post where I’m supposed to get to my point. Should I say that we shouldn’t shop there? That we should take our money elsewhere? Yes! I feel like I should say that. But, how do I really feel?

Meh (shoulder shrug).

See, those heirloom navel oranges were really super-good. I mean super good. I think I might be in love with them. It’s clouding my judgement. Crumbling my resolve.

What do you think? Do we need to banish Whole Foods? Where do you shop and why?

I have a lot to say on this topic. There will be more very soon. Stay tuned…

8 thoughts on “Can I Get a Cleanup?

  1. Barb

    Were I still living within a half an hour of a Whole Foods I would be in the same dilemma. I’ve been watching this story myself and wanting him to just shut the hell up so he wouldn’t ruin my next trip up to the cities for my own decadent trip to Whole Foods. But until that happens, I will continue to shop at my local co-op and only dream about the cheeses. Oh, the cheeses. 🙂

    Thanks for a great post.

  2. Karen

    I confess I stop and get a Rainier sandwich there every Monday on my way to my writing class. And their lattes are consistently good.

  3. amy k

    It is a quandry, isn’t it? To love the product (or in this case, produce! ha!) but loathe the CEO or figurehead or corporation. I have been following this closely too and certainly hope that there are legal repercussions for his outrageous behavior. What a narcissist!! In the meantime, in spite of the near proximity and tempting morsels and sheer VARIETY etc etc.. (need I go ON??) of the newest WF store, I have taken my biz to the Farmers Markets. We are so lucky to have local Farmers. YAY! And, I don’t need much excuse to drive my ass down to Pike Place Market anyway.

  4. julie

    I have to admit it…..the new Whole Foods in Lincoln Park is my FAVORITE GROCERY STORE EVER!!! There is a parking garage with free parking, a massive prepared food section allows you to never use your stove again, a gluten free/dairy section to die for and the coffee/full bar located next to the produce!??!!? Seriously, what more could you ask for? Will consider this on my next outing…..

  5. peggy

    Well, just to throw a different opinion into the mix . . . I have always hated Whole Foods. First of all, I grew up in Texas (home office: Austin. TEXAS might explain part of the CEO’s belief system) and secondly, the place has always been just too over the top for me–too expensive, too slick, too trendy, too much of everything to the point of obscene excess. Granted, I don’t need wheat-free or other specialty items. But I’ve decided to buy organic from The Ballard Market, and the farmer’s markets in Fremont and Phinney. I’ll grow my own. And I’ll get my buffalo from the ranch dude in Cle Elum.

  6. Tami

    Oh what a jackass.

    When I was a kid my dad read somewhere that the CEO of Hagen Dazs said something to the affect of “we pump our ice cream full of air and the fools buy it”. He would never ever eat Hagen Dazs and would never ever take us there. And it was the only ice cream shop in Bellevue Square. What a burden to bare for any young, mall-going, suburban girl. Maybe it was just a scam to get us to stop asking for ice cream.

    All I know is that I adore Whole Foods. Island life, however, affords many luxuries including a great Thriftway and many outstanding self-serve farm stands. When I do find myself near a Whole Foods it’s a bit like going to Disneyland. Of course don’t they say Walt Disney was an anti-Semite? Sigh. What’s a girl to do…

  7. Jenn

    I shop at Safeway… it is close to my kid’s daycare (I shop by myself after work before I pick them up— this is awesome) and somewhat near my house. I know where stuff is and it is relatively cheap. I can still choose to buy organic, cage-free, etc, but they have less options than other stores. Today I saved 25% of my grocery bill on buying things on sale or with coupons. I like my Safeway store. 🙂

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