Whole Foods or Holy Mackey!

There’s a great, very revealing interview in tomorrow’s NYT with a Mitt Romney supporter: John Mackay, CEO of Whole Foods: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/20/magazine/john-mackey-the-kale-king.html?ref=magazine.

Worth your time.

Years ago, Mr. Mackay made it clear that he is:

Against allowing employees to be part of organizations that advocate on their behalf;

Eager to buy products grown in China and market them under the Whole Foods brand;

Opposed to mandated health care coverage.

This has not stopped him from creating a flat out brilliant business model that is based on the colossal distraction of organic foods, “natural” foods, hormone free foods, and a farm to table “ethos.”  (As Tony Bourdain put it: Of course food comes from farms.)

I’m fascinated by it all, and while some folks are calling for a boycott of Whole Foods due to policies they disagree with, I feel differently.  Thing is: I stopped buying most of their food years and years ago.  There was a far more visceral reason I quit than who Mr. Mackey votes for and what ideologies inform his decision making :

The food does not taste good.  The fish isn’t tasty; the meat is choice (rather than the higher grade of prime), and has little flavor; the vegetables and fruits are OK, but no better than my local supermarket (that also carries organic stuff); the prepared foods have a texture of paste, are too salty, and because they are mass produced lack distinctiveness; why buy frozen or packaged foods; and, the breads are awful.

The best things about Whole Foods are the yoghurts they carry and their cheese section.  So, I’ll admit it: Yeah, OK, occasionally I buy that limited dairy from them.

Why bring an owner’s ideology into a decision?  Chances are many people you buy stuff from have views on race, class, labor, and laws you will disagree with.

But if something doesn’t taste good?  And that something is food?  Buy the food somewhere else.

I hear that Attila the Hun is opening soon…


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