03 July 2006

New Initatives from Whole Foods

I've long been a fan of Whole Foods Market. While it is more expensive that other stores, the staples don't break the bank (really, it's the esoteric foods that cost you more). A couple of years ago I remember seeing local heirloom tomatoes in the Seattle store that we shopped at. Of course, they were expensive, but that is related to how well ripe heirlooms travel...even a few miles from the farm.

Here in Tucson we don't have a WFM...only a Wild Oats, which I think is a despicable knock off of WFM. Everything that WO sells is over priced...they seem to just be riding the organic wave (more on this later...this is a hot button for me).

Today I read an article in Grist regarding a letter that John Mackey (CEO of WF) wrote to Michael Pollen (author, who has criticized WF in the past). The story quoted only a part of the letter, but the general idea was that WF has set goals as a company to work harder at supporting local food producers, especially those producing animal foods. This is a good step.

I have many frustrations with the current organic foods movement. While I think it is great that more and more people are becoming aware of the value of growing food organically, I think that many are missing the part about also growing the food sustainably. It's great that more and more farms are growing crops without pesticides, but they are still large-scale growth operations who focus on the bottom line (and the bottom line only). They are just meeting the standards set by the FDA, rather than considering the impacts of their actions (which I think is more the idea behind the organic foods movement). Consider Horizon Organics. Once upon a time, before Dean bought them, they were a decent, small dairy operation. Now they have cows that never see the light of day and chickens who live in cages. The guidelines for organic milk that are set out by the FDA do not require that the cows be able to wander in a pasture...only that they cows are not fed hormones and that they are fed organic feed.

Anyway, I could go on and on...

Read the full article here: http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2006/6/29/143121/559?source=daily
or check out John Mackey's blog and see the full exchange here:



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