Okay, so I got suckered into reading some threads on the Health Care Reform discussion board over at Whole Foods. It's fascinating, in a head-shaking time-sucking kind of way.
If you haven't heard, Whole Foods' CEO John Mackey wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal (subscription possibly required) in which he denounced health care reform as Obama et. al. have envisioned it. Mackey even had the nerve to offer up some suggestions of his own, most of which concerned easing up on regulations that restrict free trade.
At the suggestion of Paul, a fellow OActivist, I took a moment to leave a comment on the discussion thread, indicating my support of Mackey and his ideas. Just to let him, the others on the leadership team at WF, and other customers know that there are people like me in existence. I said, in essence, that I've shopped at WF before, and even though the closest store isn't really close to my house, I'd be making an effort to shop there more often.
That's all I intended to do, but then I started reading some of the other threads. Holy smokes, are people ever mad! I won't bore you with the details (you can go see for yourself if you're interested), but there are nasty ad hominem attacks and fallacious assumptions all over the place.
One theme that keeps repeating itself confused me: the assumption that nobody besides liberal Democrats ever shops at WF, and that when (or IF!) all of these conservatives who suddenly support WF go to a store, they will suffer "sticker shock" and won't find anything to buy because there's no "white bread and junk food." Also, the phrase "rich liberal elitists" keeps coming up--from the liberals. Apparently "rich liberal elitists" are the target market for Whole Foods, which is why the prices are so high.
Huh? Aren't the greedy conservatives (FYI--I'm greedy, but not a conservative) supposed to be the ones hoarding all the money? They should easily be able to afford products at Whole Foods, don't you think?
Anyway, it occurred to me this morning that many people have their feelings hurt by Mackey's stance and public statement. They don't just disagree with him, they are hurt. Why? Because I think that some of them really thought that only liberal Democrats ever set foot in a Whole Foods store! And I think they are mad to find out that lots of non-liberals are planning to shop there in support of Mackey. But I think they are even more hurt and disappointed to learn that these non-liberals were customers of Whole Foods all along. I really do--so many people seem shocked at the very thought that a non-liberal would even WANT to shop there. I think that's where at least some of the nastiness is coming from.
Whole Foods is a neat store. They sell delicious food (ever tried their marinated steaks and chicken?). I'm not overly fond of their prices, nor am I overly fond of their location. (It's all I can do to load the kids up in the car to get to Publix, which is 5 minutes away, let alone WF, which is 20-25 minutes away.) The main reason I don't make an effort to go there more often though, truly, is that our store has a bad habit of having huge open barrels of peanuts-for-the-scooping right near the front door in the produce section. Ryan gets (understandably) nervous, and I don't want to buy the produce (which looks amazing) because I have to worry about peanut cross-contamination.
But yes, I've shopped there. I've been to Whole Foods with my ultra-liberal vegan sister-in-law. I've been to Whole Foods with my ultra-conservative Catholic friend. I've been to Whole Foods all by my Weston Price-y Objectivist self. Never once have I been asked to express my political views upon entering the store. I've never been asked for the password to get into the secret liberal entrance. Like I said--it's been a while since I've visited, so maybe their policies have changed. :p
So yes, I support John Mackey, and I support Whole Foods, and its for-profit Core Value: "We recognize that profits are essential to creating capital for growth, prosperity, opportunity, job satisfaction and job security." (How many of the people who left derogatory statements about profit and greed know about this?)
Whole Foods is a great store, and yes, I'm going to make an effort to go there more often (and talk to them about the peanut situation). I'm pretty sure they'll let me in, and I'm pretty sure I'll find some good food for my family.
I'm stepping away from the train wreck of a discussion thread now, but I'll see you at the store!