Friday, August 14, 2009

Whole Foods boycott still misses the point

You have probably heard about this already. Just for the record, I shop at Whole Foods all the time. On the one hand, I wish the boycott a lot of luck, and I hope that jerk, John Mackey, loses money (it's not lost on me that telling people to take responsibility for themselves and eat right conveniently puts money into his pocket, since eating right would mean eating organic, non-genetically modified, "whole foods", wouldn't it?).

But the larger problem here is that as long as we see food as a matter of individual choices rather than community responsibility, most people are not going to get the healthy foods they need. I had the chance to meet Winona LaDuke a while back, shortly after my breast cancer was diagnosed. (She said, "I bet you're eating organic *now*, huh?" And I was/am.) But I asked her, "How do we do this organic thing in the city, when buying organic means shopping at exclusive and expensive stores that are out of reach of most folks?" And she said: backyard vegetable gardens. But it became clear to me, after thinking about this, and about the time and space and knowledge needed to garden, and about the need for shared greenhouses, that this is really a community endeavor. We can't simply garden for ourselves any more than we can simply buy produce for our own families at Whole Foods. We need to find ways, as neighborhoods, to make healthy food available to everyone.

So, to get back to my hands - on the other hand, boycotting Whole Foods is really not as effective as is working toward other, community-supported, long-range solutions. It might make a difference re. health care, which is, of course, the sole purpose behind the boycott, but it doesn't solve these larger problems. Also, Trader Joe's does not have a great record re. unions, at least in MN (they were recommended as a place to shop during the boycott). Local co-ops may be the place to go, but they are financially out of reach for most people.



Anonymous said...

How rude of Winona LaDuke to say that to you. Wow.

I do know that some people say that boycotting companies creates "negative energy" and that your energy should be more focused on what you are suggesting- working together for positive change.

And, I agree. But, I'm going to look more into this boycott regardless, and if it's something that seems worthwile, then I'll jump in. I shop at Whole Foods a lot, especially in the bulk bins. I was actually due for another trip out there soon, but we'll see. I am adimantly in favor of healthcare reform, and mad as hell at the misinformation campaign.

Negative energy, maybe, but some anger is good.

You might like the book "Food not Lawns" by HC Flores. I LOVE this book, and if and when I buy a house, I am going to follow most of her advice. I'm doing a lot of things she suggests even now like a potato container on the patio, herbs, and I have placed a green bell pepper plant in the ground in my complex.
Check it out, there's some awesome tips in there!

Plain(s)feminist said...

Thanks for the book suggestion - I will take a look.

No, it wasn't rude at all - maybe I didn't explain it right. It was more that she got that having that kind of health crisis was a wake-up call to the quality of our food, and this is one of her main issues.

Green said...

Has Winona ever been to a major city? I don't have a fire escape, let alone a backyard! How can she propose a backyard garden as a solution for city dwellers?

Trader Joe's sells a ton of healthy food and they are much less expensive than Whole Foods (though I don't think they have as many stores).