So much for Boycotts, Unions & Co-ops!

'Speaking of unions, a few others have said they’re boycotting Whole Foods because Mackey won’t let his employees organize. But as noted, his employees have high rates of job satisfaction, and they’re paid better and have better benefits than the unionized employees at other grocery chains. So what’s the problem? If Mackey’s opposition to unions is your reason for hating Whole Foods, sorry, but you don’t really care about workers. You care about unions.

Some have said the answer lies in farmers’ markets and co-ops. Farmers’ markets and co-ops are swell if you’re a yuppie commune member or an urbanite foodie. But they aren’t going to feed entire cities. If it makes you feel good to shop at those places, go ahead. I love my local farmers’ market. Mine has great heirloom tomatoes. But I also realize that it’s only open five months out of the year, only sells what can be grown locally, and its stock can be limited by bad weather, pests, and just about any other variable that can hurt a harvest. Chain stores utilize the economies of scale. They replicate suppliers, so if something goes wrong with one farmer or a drought hits one part of the country, they can back it up with food from another. So you can go ahead and feel morally superior by shopping at the farmers’ market, but don’t pretend that you’re helping the poor. Big companies and industrial farming are why poor people in America don’t starve to death anymore. They’re also why America feeds a good percentage of the rest of the world. I too think corporations can be evil. But there’s no question that industrial farming has immeasurably improved and extended our lives.'

- Radley Balko, 'Whole Foods'


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