Join 3,557 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Flash mob in aisle 3!
September 28, 2009 5:00 AM   Subscribe

Brassed off?! (YouTube, 5 min.) Like the health care debate itself, the boycott / buycott confrontation regarding the recent article by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey may be heating up. Mackey, who was previously investigated by the SEC for making anonymous internet posts talking up his stock while trashing the valuation of an acquisition target, now faces opposition from suppliers and labor groups, a decrease in brand perception, investor calls to step down... and pesky oom-pah bands.
posted by markkraft (29 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oops... Looks like I linked to an older "investor call to step down" link, dating back to the previous SEC issues, but not including the latest issues. Here is the more recent call to step down.
posted by markkraft at 5:11 AM on September 28, 2009


Mackey is an asshole, and his political opinions are both juvenile and appalling. But I feel like he's the focus for a lot of rage that maybe could be better directed elsewhere.
posted by craichead at 5:28 AM on September 28, 2009


Such as...?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:38 AM on September 28, 2009


I would be nice to see the Market "correct itself," though, wouldn't it?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:40 AM on September 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


Ordinary corporate conservatives are just working against progressives or at most undermining progressive agendas. Mackey is doing both of those AND exploiting progressives at the same time. Seems like pretty well directed rage to me.
posted by DU at 5:42 AM on September 28, 2009


craichead: Mackey is an asshole, and his political opinions are both juvenile and appalling. But I feel like he's the focus for a lot of rage that maybe could be better directed elsewhere.

Kirth Gerson: Such as...?

Guy Picciotto, maybe?
posted by koeselitz at 5:49 AM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


We (The Democrats) control the House, the Senate and the White House. The failure to pass meaningful healthcare reform sits squarely on our shoulders.

Boycott whatever you want, but Mackey (and other mean shouting conservatives) are red herrings and in the current political landscape, irrelevant.
posted by LakesideOrion at 6:05 AM on September 28, 2009 [10 favorites]


Guy Picciotto, maybe?
The guy from Rites of Spring? I don't get the joke!

Look, I live three hours from the closest Whole Foods, so maybe I'm just some idiot from flyover country. But to me, Mackey doesn't look like a politically powerful person, and his particular brand of adolescent libertarianism doesn't seem like an especially powerful political ideology in the U.S. I'm a lot more angry at religious figures who think that "pro-life" only has to do with fetuses, and not with thirty-five year olds who die unnecessarily because they can't get their lupus treated. I'm angry at scare-mongering politicians and pundits who play on Americans' ignorance about the rest of the world to misrepresent other countries' health care systems. And I'm mostly angry at cowardly Democrats who refuse to show any spine at all on this issue. The Whole Foods boycott, it seems to me, is really a lifestyle choice for upper-middle-class coastal types. It doesn't have a thing to do with me, and it doesn't have a lot to do with the healthcare debate.
posted by craichead at 6:27 AM on September 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


...adolescent libertarianism doesn't seem like an especially powerful political ideology in the U.S.

New here?

But I agree that all the things you mention are problems. However, why can't I pressure Congress to pass healthcare reform AND boycott Whole Foods? (Disclaimer: I've never actually even been in a WF, so maybe boycotting them takes a lot more time than I'm imagining.)
posted by DU at 6:39 AM on September 28, 2009


I've been surprised at how little I miss Whole Foods since Mackey's editorial. Staying out of my local Whole Foods is a minor stand, sure, but it's been surprisingly easy to find organic eggs and local produce without them.

Give it a try.
posted by mediareport at 6:57 AM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


craichead: The guy from Rites of Spring? I don't get the joke!

It was a stupid pun: Mackey / MacKaye.
posted by koeselitz at 6:58 AM on September 28, 2009


I've been surprised at how little I miss Whole Foods since Mackey's editorial. Staying out of my local Whole Foods is a minor stand, sure, but it's been surprisingly easy to find organic eggs and local produce without them.

Similarly a bunch of the stuff I used to get at WF I now find 5 blocks away in chinatown, or little Vietnam if traffic is good. Much cheaper, and I'm supporting local business.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:28 AM on September 28, 2009


I am also some idiot from flyover country, although I live a brief bike-ride away from the location of the original proto-Whole Foods store (Saferway). The problem isn't so much Mackey's political clout, it is that he both springs from and capitalizes on the granola-crunching lefty community, but has increasingly shown himself to be contemptuous of that community's values—indeed, he goes out of his way to. So politically-minded lefties feel like they're chumps for patronizing his business, and some will make a public stink about it.

There are bigger problems in the world, but this isn't surprising or even unreasonable.
posted by adamrice at 8:18 AM on September 28, 2009


This strikes me as a bit ridiculous. You can't expect everyone to share every single cause as you.
posted by rulethirty at 8:22 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whole Foods ate the thriving local and organic food market in southern Maine, and shit out a couple cloney big-box stores that ship everything in from CA and New Zealand. Whole Foods is just Wal*Mart with the slogan reversed: "Always high prices!" Looking for local foods? You won't find them in Whole*Mart. As mentioned upthread, it's extremely easy to find organics in regular grocery stores, and usually a lot easier to find local products. The notion of homogenous big-box "organic" megastores is repulsive. Mackey just personifies the problem with the entire concept of Whole*Mart. If you don't shop there because of his health care foolishness, great. If you don't care about that, I've got a list as long as your arm of other reasons not to shop there.
posted by rusty at 8:29 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


heh, so here I am in the denigrated fly-over of the fly-over part of the country, and... well we aren't important to have a Whole Foods Inc Co-op, but we do have a local co-op called Whole Foods (not Mackey's spawn) , and even better (imo) the grocery story a mile and a half from me has plenty of organic stock, AND it is integrated with the rest of the food, no special little corner-o-shame.

I do have (plenty of) issues with our local co-op, the even smaller Co-op over in Ashland WI kicks butt though, the local one is a reliable source of good local food. Wrenshal carrots... mmmm.

and Mackey can suck it, he has been an asshole for quite awhile and I'd be tickled to see him forced out.
posted by edgeways at 9:14 AM on September 28, 2009


Guy Picciotto, maybe?

The guy from Rites of Spring? I don't get the joke!

This must be a slight generational misalignment. I was thinking, "The guy from Fugazi? I don't get the joke!"
posted by el_lupino at 9:25 AM on September 28, 2009


Pesky Oom-Pah is a great name for a band.
posted by darkstar at 9:50 AM on September 28, 2009


Pesky Oom-Pah is a great name for a band.

With Guy Picciotto!
posted by scody at 11:15 AM on September 28, 2009


I'm so relieved! I thought maybe Guy Picciotto had come out against health care reform!

(Yeah, so I have a tendency to be overly literal. By the way, does anyone know what Brendan Canty thinks about No Child Left Behind?)

I'm not saying that everyone should enthusiastically shop at Whole Foods. I'd be boycotting them too, were I not involuntarily boycotting them already. I just think that people seem to be devoting a lot of energy to WF, and I'm not sure that's the best way to influence the healthcare debate.
posted by craichead at 11:33 AM on September 28, 2009


Is there any data showing if there has been an effect from the boycott?
posted by allelopath at 11:52 AM on September 28, 2009


The latest data shows that I'm now shopping at Whole Foods twice as often as before. The lines at the cash registers are gratifyingly long, the lettuce in the the cash drawers is piled wonderfully high, and employees are having trouble keeping the shelves stocked with my favorite products. Everything is jolly at Whole Foods, thank you.
posted by Faze at 12:12 PM on September 28, 2009


Are there any "cooking with Whole Foods" cookbooks? I doubt it. Trader Joes is one of the very few commercial institutions I actually endorse, and that comes from shopping there for 30 years and never buying a bottle of wine. The success of Whole Foods still looks to me like a symptom of America's economic illness.
posted by wendell at 1:13 PM on September 28, 2009


Much cheaper, and I'm supporting local business.

I assume you've done the due diligence and checked out that the health coverage they're certainly providing for their employees is up to your standard?
posted by dhammond at 1:26 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Is there any data showing if there has been an effect from the boycott?"

Of the type you're looking for? Nothing that Whole Foods would want to share with you, if they could avoid it.

They are a publicly traded company, and, as such, have to file quarterly reports. That said, there are many, many tricks out there to make quarterly reports look rosier than they are... which is why you oftentimes see companies perform well for several quarters, and then take a big loss. Basically, it's in the best interest of companies to defer their losses in order to minimize the damage to investor perceptions.

Realistically, if there is hard financial data, odds are good that we won't see it until about two quarterly reports have come and gone, if not longer. But the simple fact is, if individuals choose to spend their money elsewhere, there is always an effect.

I'm buying more from the local independent veggie stand. The owner usually takes the time to come over and greet me, and occasionally points out new things that come in that he recommends. I'm not only a regular now... I feel far more appreciated, and know that I am supporting something worthwhile.

So while I can't give you the latest financials, I can say with some certainty that there is most definitely an effect.
posted by markkraft at 2:25 PM on September 28, 2009


[few comments removed -- comment trawling considered harmful, don't do it here, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 2:59 PM on September 28, 2009


I find that I've been doing more of my shopping at Whole Foods recently, and my local store, smack dab in the bluest of blue areas, seems just as busy and crowded as ever.
posted by gyc at 3:06 PM on September 28, 2009


We (The Democrats) control the House, the Senate and the White House. The failure to pass meaningful healthcare reform sits squarely on our shoulders.

What he said. With a bit of party discipline, the entire fucking fiasco would be finished by now, and finished in the favour of citizens, not corporations.

The Democratic Party is an embarrassment. Even when they have all the power, they can't get fuck-all accomplished. And yet what can you do? The system apparently prevents you from having a third party, and you sure as hell can't allow the Republican criminals take control. What a sad, sorry mess.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:04 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


A savvy CEOish type would make sure to delay all losses as long as possible, summing them up into a single mega-loss, so that he could bet against the company six months before the AGM, and clean up; and subsequent to the stock plummeting, put all that money into purchasing company shares, as the next series of rosy-golden reports bring the stock back to and past the previous high.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:08 PM on September 28, 2009


« Older I miss Carl Sagan. I miss Carl Sagan. I miss Carl ...  |  Lending credence to conspiracy... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments