trouble in organic paradise?
Lots of talk and chatter about boycotting Whole Foods, the walmart of natural food retail.
Boycotting them is self-evident for those of us who grew up watching the organic and natural food movement evolve. That evolution into a corporate monopoly for the educated but elitist consumer only in high income neighborhoods is not exactly what we had hoped for. Our hope was for a local based food supply with regional distributors supplementing the small business retail stores.
Putting that aside, this 'whole' thing is nothing but another diversion to keep us from thinking and acting on some more important issues like war...and...
A boycott involving tens of thousands against a company because of the political meanderings of the CEO? Just think of what a boycott against some major criminals might do?
I boycott Whole Foods for a couple of reasons.
1st, unless you are well off, you really can't afford to shop there. It's elitist and in middle Tennessee, the stores are only located in the elitist neighborhoods.
2nd, being the capitalist millionaire that John Mackey is, he bought out his competition, Wild Oats, and except for a few small out of the way natural food stores, has close to a monopoly in Nashville.
They are a Fortune 500 company, a giant corporation with large mark ups and buyers that squeeze the suppliers.
It's a far cry from the early to late 70's when there were several small natural food stores in many of the surrounding towns. All of them ended up not making a living as there weren't enough enlightened customers.
I worked for a couple of them. The Good Earth in Woodbury was opened by the previous owners of the first natural food store in Nashville, the Sunshine Grocery. They had sold out there after a year for lack of income and customers in 1973, but not because of the quality of the endeavor. They were ahead of their time and it takes time for the rest of the world to catch up.
Trying again with a co-op concept in Woodbury around 1976, there just was not enough participants and after a couple of years with a shortage of rent money and cash flow, the business folded.
I worked next at the Readyville Mill and the mill store. Same story, not enough customers.
Both places were incredible. Local produce in season, homemade bread, stone ground wheat and corn, raw cow and goat milk, fresh country eggs and a variety of US produced foods supplied by a Florida distributor. Sometimes a little homemade wine and moonshine and... We talked the talk, learned a lot and shared many good times.
Now after over 30 years, the customers with money are there, for now, but the small time aspect is gone.
As always, when mega-corporations take over from the little guy, the prices go through the roof and that personal touch is lost.
We should boycott as many of the major corporations as we can, all of the walmarts of the various niche markets and try to bring back a few local jobs. The economy is forcing us to anyway.
The emergence of local farmers markets gives us some hope. I talked to one guy who has sold over $1,200 of produce out of his garden so far this season.
Who needs Whole Foods?