“Shunning” Whole Foods, (and you don’t have to be Amish)

Web Definition: “Shunning”

“Shunning is the act of deliberately avoiding association with, and habitually keeping away from an individual or group. It is a sanction against association often associated with religious groups and other tightly-knit organizations and communities. Practiced by the Amish as a kind of social punishment  for improper behavior.”

by Ravi

As little as 6 months ago, we were (somewhat reservedly) defending Whole Foods as  a kind of only and last choice for at least SOME conscious food shopping experience.

How things can change.

When you read this, I can hear some of you starting to think “sheesh – this guy’s a food Nazi…“.  And, well, I might have understood you before I had my kid. And, well – you are probably right.

It’s a funny thing – before having a child – I was kinda-sorta becoming more aware (aging and all) about what I was eating and what toxins I was putting in my body.  This strange transformation into a label-reading, GMO-saga following, toxic pollutant aware kind of eco/health-freak blogger began in earnest with the birth of my daughter.  Starting with my necessary soldier-like scene guarding my new-born from each and every attempt by the hospital to do one after another test, shot or procedure on my baby girl (TOTALLY, btw, disrupting the newborn/mother bonding time).  Our failed attempt at a home birth (fortunately ending up in a half-decent midwife-attended university hospital) actually kicked some real awareness into my half-baked health-conscious ass.

Somewhere along the way, I also became a more political animal – at least with the issues that would impact my life and my child’s future.  Suddenly nutrition, vaccines, home schooling, advertising in her face (and mine), sugar, fermented foods, paleo diet, and on and on – these things took on quite some new importance.

The “last straw” in the Whole Foods saga was this pathetic (although wholly to-be-expected if yer not naive as hell) corporate-level surrender to the supposed inevitability of GMO foods infecting the whole food chain. (please see my post here). Then – as if to top it off – CEO Mackey gets up last week and whines about his store being “victimized” by the nickname “Whole Paycheck” market.  I wish he were more concerned by their blatant corporate hypocrisy.

I wholeheartedly agree with one thing veg-head Mackey has said – and that is we should all re-think the appropriate cost of food if we want a quality food supply – see post here on just that issue.

“The Healthiest Grocery Store In America” is just another marketing by-line, unsupportable by the evidence (promoting vegetarian/vegan diets as mountains of evidence rise as to our health’s dependence on animal products). I could live with that stupidity – but the GMO thing? that is utterly indefensible.

So, what to do? PLEASE seek out a local struggling coop and tolerate the unrefined presentation and imperfect customer service (c’mon – they are mostly hippi-wanna-be’s… 😉 ) and spend your money RIGHT IN YOUR OWN COMMUNITY where the profits don’t flow to nameless investors behind some faceless corporate entity. Just DO IT!

One final point – if Whole Foods wants to avoid this kind of criticism, then they can just stop advertising their supposed virtues and pack themselves in with Safeway, Smiths, Albertsons and the rest. If they want to keep up this “healthiest store” flap – the stand up against Monsanto. Period.


– Whining of CEO about “Whole Paycheck” nickname

– GMO stand (the reason here)

– Although advertizing their idealistic stand – they have only managed to certify “GMO_FREE” a tiny handful of obviously-non GMO products.  (see that evidence here). This is not surprising – a huge portion of their “natural” products – and even some of the Organic ones) cannot help but be infected by GMO crops at this time. THE REAL WAY TO STOP THIS INFECTION IS TO STOP GMOS ALTOGETHER!

– I am not claiming you will get better non-gmo foods at the coop – they are stuck with mostly the same brands as Whole Foods – BUT you will be supporting local economies more directly and, with a little research, you can find the truly honorable and diligent food companies whose brands are worth purchasing. You can’t wait for someone to do that homework for you.

– As an evolutionary/paleo diet proponent for best health – I have always found Whole Foods not-so-subtle vegetarian agenda irritating. But – that is an opinion that I can simply avoid.  GMOs are NOT avoidable.

– When we here at DaiaSolGaia researched and found out how damaging modern wheat and in fact, all grains can be to our bodies – we quit-’em. Go to Whole Foods prepped food selections – seems like there are quite a few, huh? Just TRY to find some without wheat, soy, or a hugely-suspect vegetable oil (usually canola…)

– NO serious effort to obtain raw milk products that are legal – very few raw cheese selections.

– Almost all the dairy is “ultra-pasteurized” – the worst and most milk-killing process possible

– As small produce growers, we attempted to become local suppliers for WF – the process is daunting and no really practical/easy system in place for small producers who are local – there are many other articles around the web about how LITTLE of Whole Foods produce is actually local (as compared the the total in-your-face advertising claims of local produce availability). See here, here #13, and here

– Ultimately, WF is a corporation responsible to it’s shareholders – the customers/shoppers are secondary (as in every other corporate venture). Customers are to be used as a vehicle for the shareholders to make money.

And finally – although I agree with Mackey’s contention that we should all expect to pay more for food – his then absurd and inane “healthiest diet in the world,” he pointed out, “could cost around $200 per month and consist largely of whole grains, beans and fresh produce.”

Healthy? THAT is a diet for for future ailments and chronic disease if I ever saw one… and when did he – with his WF stock shares and $300,000 salary in past years, EVER have to worry about his food budget?

PLEASE SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY COOP, CSA AND FARMERS MARKETS – THE REAL ONES – NOT CORPORATIONS DECEPTIVELY CO-OPTING THE “Farmer’s Market” NAME – like Sunflower Farmers Market here in Albuquerque – a corporate – almost completely non-local produce supplier (produce mainly from Chile, Argentina, Mexico? yea – really local…)

Post part of Monday Mania return here

Post part of Hearth and Soul return here

And – what do YOU think of Whole Foods Market and the encroachment of GMOs in our food chain?


7 Responses to “Shunning” Whole Foods, (and you don’t have to be Amish)

  1. Kelli says:

    I’ve been to WF at least twice in the past and enjoyed it. But it is a very expensive store and the local food-op is even more expensive. Seriously, I have no way of being able to afford to buy local all the time. Usually I shop at the natural food section of Krogers though I will buy some stuff when I can afford it at the local health food store (not really sure where they get their stuff either).
    I do wish I could actually find some real butter somewhere thats not over 5 dollars but I’m not having much luck. Its one real food product that I’d like to try. Raw cheese isn’t too bad.

  2. daiaravi says:

    Actually Kelli – there IS a good reason to cough up the bucks for an organic butter – you see – because of the process of making butter (concentrating the fats) and the known tendency for toxins and pesticides to concentrate in fats – non-organic butter is often quite high in toxins, pesticides and herbicides that non organic cows eat – so you get a double wammy – non organic and concentration of the bad materials – trader’s joe has an organic butter for less than $5 a lb – i think it is $4.50–

  3. Christy says:

    We certainly need to be aware of what is going on and into our foods. We don’t have a Whole Foods in my area – but I do love my health food store. Thanks for sharing this with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop!

  4. J. Stanton says:

    I buy my grass-fed meat directly from the ranch. It’s still cheaper to have it shipped UPS than to pay for the Whole Foods distribution infrastructure, and all the money goes directly to support small-scale, sustainable ranching.

    Once a corporation goes public, profits will eventually trump any ethical concerns. That’s just a fact of corporate structure: they’re obligated to provide the greatest profit for their shareholders.


  5. Judy says:

    I appreciate your article raising awareness. I appreciate freedom more than cause. What I mean by that is, our freedom to choose, WF’s freedom to do business as they see fit. What I appreciate about WF is that they are a great in-between store which is very appealing to folks who are ignorant to anything outside of mainstream eating habits. For them to jump from their fast food habit to caring about GMO is a canyon, and navigating smaller natural food stores is outside of their scope, let alone joining a CO-OP.

    As I have tried to educate friends and family about better food choices, we must take baby steps because most folk’s eyes glaze over. It is at this stage I really appreciate WF BECAUSE they are an easy FIRST step for those getting their toes wet in the “healthy” food process. Comparing products, eating better, understanding where the food comes from is a process many haven’t even begun.

    Here’s to better choices, better health, better living…one step at a time 🙂

    • daiaravi says:

      I am with you all the way in regards to your efforts to educate and get people over to the good food – but do be aware that what you have outlined in your comment is not so much about “freedom” as, in fact, “the cause”–

      and also – i am aiming my criticism at the corporate level – the local workers in whole foods may well be unaware of the extent of their corporate deceit (which is ultimately no excuse) and, of course, their bread and butter paychecks come from that very corporate system.

      and i would “strongly” encourage you to raise the awareness by trotting your friends and family to the local farmers market or co op RATHER than whole foods. Sure – a bit of culture shock may be in store – but by continuing to support whole foods lukewarm non-commitment to the very things that they righteously advertise for but DO NOT STAND UP FOR is hypocrisy. by unabated support of a hypocritical corporation, you are perpetrating the very irresponsibility that you are choosing to label your “freedom” –

      yes – of course you are free – free to try to find honest, sincere and ethical sources for your good foods, or free to choose to ignore the corporate hypocrisy and blatant misleading advertising of another mega-corporation that cares – when push comes to shove – 100% for it’s shareholders profits and 0% for the actual truth and substance of it’s claimed purpose to its customers. our degenerate corporate system makes no bones about this and give no quarter to any compromise.

      The ONLY way customers can vote in this matter is by their spending dollars. Period.

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