Past, Present and Future of Food

As part of a recent public dialogue with Michael Pollan, I presented a slide show on the Past, Present and Future of Food. This slide show, as well as a link to a recorded version of the presentation and subsequent discussion with Pollan, are included in this blog post.

 

As an introduction to this material, I am sharing part of a monthly newsletter authored by Michael Strong, CEO and Chief Visionary for FLOW, a social entrepreneurial group I co-founded. He speaks to the events leading up to the conversation with Michael Pollan in Berkeley on February 27, 2007, as well as the greater meaning of the ongoing dialogue. Strong's article adeptly references the linkage between this current presentation and my previous blog post on Conscious Capitalism. I invite you to read it with those things in mind while I work on an expanded, written version of my presentation to be posted on my blog in the near future.

 

Per Michael Strong: "On Tuesday evening, February 27, 2007, I attended a public dialogue between Michael Pollan and John Mackey in Berkeley. It was an extraordinary event by any standard.

 

Last April, Michael Pollen's book The Omnivore's Dilemma was published and quickly became a New York Times best seller and has stayed on the list ever since. It was named one of the "10 Best Books of 2006" by the New York Times Sunday Book Review.

 

The book is a meticulous account of four meals: One from McDonald's, a second from "Industrial Organic," a.k.a. Whole Foods Market (WFM), a third from Joel Salatin's organic farm in Virginia, and the fourth one that Pollen hunted, gathered, and prepared himself. Not surprisingly, the dramatic narrative is from the "worst," at McDonald's, to the "most authentic," his own hunter-gatherer meal. In this continuum, the "industrial organic" meal from Whole Foods comes off as better than McDonald's but still relatively corrupt and impure. Pollan's book has had a substantial impact on our culture, especially on that sub-culture of people who are especially interested in food. When Pollan was in Austin for his book tour, John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO, invited him by to have a conversation about the book. John had felt that Pollan's book was not an entirely fair and accurate perspective on Whole Foods Market, and wanted to talk about the issues directly with Michael Pollan. This first conversation evolved into an exchange of letters between the two, which are available to the public in earlier submissions to this blog. Eventually Michael invited John to have a public discussion with him in Berkeley, and John agreed; thus the event on February 27.

 

To Michael's credit, he introduced John by explaining just how unusual this situation was. In general, when a journalist writes a book or article critical of a particular corporation, the corporation either ignores it or sends out a press release to counter the criticisms. For the CEO of a corporation that had been criticized in a prominent book to engage in the writer in an extended dialogue on the merits of the criticism was in itself unprecedented. For the CEO to then appear in public to discuss the criticism was even more unusual.

 

John began with a forty-five minute presentation (the entire evening, including John's presentation, may be viewed here). In it he surveyed the history of our food system, thus putting Pollan's criticisms in a historical context, and pointing out that the much criticized "industrial" food system had, in fact, been enormously successful at alleviating hunger around the world. He then explained Whole Foods Market's positive role in changing the way that people eat. His presentation went on to explain both existing and new initiatives that WFM is undertaking to make the world a better place.

 

I won't summarize John's talk here, or the subsequent conversation with Pollan, nor the Q&A session afterwards. Suffice it to say that in this history of corporate - press relationships, I am not aware of any comparable in depth exchange of views. It is fair to say that Pollan, starting off as a critic of WFM, was won over by Mackey's transparency, integrity, and sense of fair play. The Berkeley audience was similarly won over, and constantly interrupted John to applaud WFM initiatives.

 

John made it clear during the conversation that Pollan's attacks had been costly to WFM: in the time since Pollan's book came out, WFM has lost $2 billion in stock market capitalization. Although it is unlikely that Pollan's attacks are solely responsible for that drop, John did point out that Pollan's charges that WFM represented "industrial organic" led to a media "feeding frenzy" attacking and ridiculing the idea of "industrial organic," with WFM the main target. Given that current and prospective WFM customers would be the demographic most likely to have read Pollan's book and related media articles, it is likely that a book as high profile as Pollan's was did indeed have a large negative impact on WFM revenues and, consequently, stock price.

 

Given this context, John's response to Pollan was even more astonishing. He thanked Pollen for bringing to light justifiable criticisms of WFM that, in the end, led to new initiatives. And at the same time he clearly pointed out the ways in which Pollan's expectations regarding large-scale natural foods production and distribution were simply unrealistic in historical context. John calmly and appropriately brought the conversation around to a FLOW motto, borrowed from Michelangelo: "Criticize by creating."

 

One of FLOW's programs in development is "Conscious Capitalism." The goal of Conscious Capitalism is to move beyond the limited purview of "Corporate Social Responsibility," to a new perspective: One in which corporate purpose, integrity in pursuing that purpose, and transparency with respect to how an organization pursues that purpose are key, along with a deep recognition of the interdependent system of multiple stakeholders in which business functions. In a world of corporations that are purpose-driven, and which are acting out of integrity and therefore willing to be transparent regarding their practices, the reputation of corporations and respect for capitalism will improve dramatically. John provided an exemplary manifestation of Conscious Capitalism on the evening of February 27.

 

At the same time, we need to encourage Conscious Journalism, Conscious Activism, Conscious Politics, etc., all driven by purpose, integrity, and transparency, and a sensitivity to the interconnected system in which all function. For me one of the most telling moments of the evening was when Pollan expressed his surprise that his book might have cost WFM significant loss in revenues. Pollan's perspective was that he was simply practicing the art of journalism to the best of his ability. It had not occurred to him that he could cause great damage to others by means of his reporting. If he had actively believed that harming WFM was a necessary and justified action to take, then his journalism would have been conscious. His lack of awareness alone (watch the video and judge for yourself) reveals a lack of conscious action and intention on his part.

 

John's mature, relaxed perspective on Pollan's often misguided attacks are also an exemplary manifestation of the spirit of constructive dialogue. He was sincerely grateful to Pollan for helping him to develop a clearer perception of the path that WFM should take going forwards. May we all learn to become more conscious and thoughtful in all of our actions and responses, and may we all also learn to be more generous to those who fail to do so."

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212 comments

Comments

Steve Sage says …

Hello John: Due to your being a good American freely expressing your opinion, my family is making a shopping change as of now. I live south of Tucson, Arizona and will now be switching all my family's food shopping when we're in town to Whole Foods. My sister pointed out your blog to me and as soon as I saw your quote from one of my heroes, Margaret Thatcher, I knew you stand for good over evil! I'm in my office right now looking at a photo I have above my desk of Thatcher and Ronald Reagan at the White House. I'm inspired every time I look at it, as I am by your courageous stance. Of course it shouldn't have to be courageous to express oneself, but these days it seems to be a requirement to speak up against the growing encroachment of an ever more stifling left wing government. Therefore, we support you 100% and will put our money where our politics are, by shopping a lot more at Whole Foods. We also won't be shy in expressing our opinions to those idiots picketing your store.

Lynn says …

Bravo, Mr. Mackey, Guess what healthcare it's NOT a right. read the the Constitution. the lying liberals media that we all come to laugh at. liberals and the democratic believe in abortion (to kill children) and want us also to pay for it. NO. NO. NO. NO......NO...NO..... Take the union which is communionism and doesn't care about this country...while your at it take pelosi,obama,lying liberals the unethical news media and russia may like your values. Thanks again for the conservative values that built this nation and taking a stand. Lots of Conservatives shop and Whole Foods and will continue to do. thanks again, Mr. Mackey

Sandi says …

What amazes me about all this is the anger directed at this man for expressing his qualified opinion about this attempt to force a government take-over of our health care system. He has a constitutional right to express his mind just as everyone else, but to threaten his job, to turn into an angry mom with torches to 'kill the monster' is just plain outrageous. I saw one remark 'thanks for showing us your political opinion...now we know and you will pay for it'. So, unless you love Obama, unless you have the lemming mentality to swallow everything he puts out, you don't deserve the same rights every citizen is entitled to? There are millions of people in this country who did not vote for Obama, they work in establishments that you probably shop at over and over...if their political opinion was to be revealed, you would stop shopping there as well? That's so stupid. You want to FORCE your opinions, your agenda, on everyone? So much for tolerance. Nice CHANGE. Keep it. WHOLE FOODS...you still have my business. I don't care what your CEO things or says. I'll be back!

James Perkins says …

I have never been to our local Whole Foods store on Oracle and Ina, I believe in your leadership and concur with your thoughts of O'bama care. I will be doing as much buisness in our local store starting tomarrow. You shouldn't be condemmed for believing in the American dream and achieving it with out the Goverment paying for it!!!! Goverment = my hard earned tax dollars! God Bless you and yours

Lynn says …

Thank you Mr. Mackey for taking a stand for conservatism of which built this country not the liberal people whom they think everything is their rights. Not. HEALTHCARE IS NOT A RIGHT. the liberals do not believe in the Constitution and know how to read the proposals that have created this huge mess we are now in with the congress,pelosi,kennedy,biden,and socialist,markist obama,oprah, union which is nothing more than communionism will someone tells and bullies when they tell you how to vote and demand their WRONG way. We Conservatives and alot of us will continue to shop a Whole Foods, thanks again Mr. Mackey

kenneth graham says …

As an avid shopper at Whole Foods, a progressive establishment encouraging good health by endorsing organic and healthy food stuffs, I was dismayed that the CEO would take a position for the elite and against health care for everyone. I was excited when the new Whole Foods opened in West St. Louis County next to my work. I have shopped there almost daily frequently eating lunch. That ended today. Those that have great health care and do not fear a catastrophic illness that could bankrupt them or care about those less fortunate who live daily in fear of getting seriously ill surely endorse Mr. Mackey's imperialistic self serving diatribe. I do not and will register my displeasure with the store he heads.

Marion Gregg says …

Mr. Mackey, More people support you than not. Keep writing articles. I will make it a point to shop in your store in Houston. Be encouraged . . . all the other side is doing is drawing attention to a good man, a good company and good, healthy products. I think you better get ready for business to boom. By the way, when I retire from my current job I might want to come to work at one of your stores.

ALAN says …

THANK YOU FOR BEING HONEST, I HAVE NEVER SHOPPED AT WHOLE FOODS UNTIL YESTERDAY, I WILL CONTINUE GOING AND TOLD ALL MY FRIENDS TO SHOP THERE. WE KNOW THE GOVERNMENT CANT RUN ANYTHING, AND GOD FORBID THEY GET THEIR HANDS ON OUR HEALTHCARE WE WONT HAVE ANY.

Jan Warner says …

When I read your interesting article I decided I would make a greater effort in supporting your market. Our President has been asking "if anyone has a better idea, let them say so" Well, it is your oponion but a very good one and I for one sure would like those in authority consider some of your ideas...Found it interesting that on the news...it was Unions protesting your ideas. Hang in there...we are not all union members or supporters. There are many who are supporting you, your ideas and your market.

Hannah Smith says …

Mr. Mackey: I find your opinions on healthcare to be typical of someone who has no idea of what it is like to be a struggling single parent with two small children trying to survive on two waitressing jobs. I have no health insurance and depend on the kindness of my family to help with my bills. I wish I could afford to shop at your store but there is no way I could ever afford to shop there for my family and have enough money left over for rent, utilities, etc.. You seem to have lost touch with what is really going on in this country. There is a dwindling middle class and growing working poor class. People who are working and struggling just to survive do not have access to decent healthcare let alone overpriced organic foods. I would boycott your store in protest to your elitist and selfish views but since I have never shopped there and can't due to a lack of discretionary money, I will be sure to urge others that I know who do occasionally shop there, not to. In the meantime, I will take my business and my double coupons to the Shoppers Food Warehouse down the street where I can get some locally grown produce in the summer at half the cost of your store and still have some money left over to buy my kids an ice cream cone on a hot summer night. The days of the Hog Farm ladeling up brown rice and organic soups to Woodstock Nation are gone...replaced by greedy capitalists such yourself. Shame on you.

Houston Jones says …

Hang in there John. Your ideas make a lot of sense. The radical left seems to be against common sense as well as free choice and public debate. It's their way or else.

Hodge says …

Cool point of view you have there, did you know that this nearly doesnt happen in some countries at all, although they do similar things but not exactly the same. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLJf4k-Sc8c

B. Bartlett says …

Mr. Mackey, Informed debate is something that we as Americans have been allowed by the shed blood of our forefathers. Those great men and women left Europe to be free to worship and live...a couple of hundred years later, we seem to be losing touch with why America became a land of hope for all, at least a portion of our nation is. Your article was excellent. As a side note, this morning there were two men in the gym with me sharing their surprise at how great Whole Foods was. They each laughed and said they'd never been there previously, but went to support you for voicing some sense. You're gaining a whole new base of customers. Congratulations.

Debbie says …

Dear Mr. Mackey: I want to thank you for the courage to stand up as a patriotic American Citizen and speaking your point of view- that is what we all call "free speech". At least it's free when this administration agrees with you. I never heard about your store or you until this controversy regarding the so called Health Reform, but thanks to Fox News Channel, I have heard the "fair & balanced" and accurate reporting of this matter. I agree with most of your views, and I am totally against anything this administration is trying to shove down our throats, because how can you trust an administration filled with extreme leftists, radicals, convicted felons, tax cheats, and I believe they are trying to take complete control of this country. I believe we need some health reform, and much of what you layed out is incredibly correct. There are so many other ways to fix this matter without any Federal involvement. I also want to thank you, as I understand you have given back to our communities much, and that makes you one of us, "we the people". I don't believe Illegal Immigrants should get free health insurance- they should be deported back to their country and seek legal methods to come to this country. I don't believe the "poor" who live on welfare, food stamps, etc, who have cell phones, Ipods, computers, 46" HD TV's etc should get free health care. I do believe working Americans with low wages, who are making genuine efforts to better their lives and move up the ladder, should be subsidized and assisted. I resent my taxes going to organizations such as ACORN, ACLU and all the other radical organizations that filter the money back to the criminal & corruption and greed in government. I will seek out the nearest store (which is not close by the way)and patronize that store as much as possible. I wish you would open a store here in Chattanooga- we sure could use it and you'd get a lot of business here. Once again, thank you for speaking boldly, holding to the truth, and sticking to your guns. You are a true American and I for one admire your courage. Sincerely Debbie Chattanooga, TN

Victor Chen says …

A new Whole Foods has opened here in Manhattan, on the Upper West Side, and after visiting it, I came home and went online and found this interesting blog and all the comments. I had intended to give some business to Whole Foods, but now I think I will not. Mr. Mackey's views on health care insurance and "socialism" are objectionable to me. Without "socialized" Medicare, I would not have any health insurance at all. Medical costs in America are too high and going higher, and too many people are not covered at all. The present system needs to be improved, and President Obama and the Democrats should not be condemned as "socialists" for trying to find a better way.

julia5 says …

Thanks so much for standing up to the socialist that would take over our country.They will organize and try to take you down. Having said that,I will shop at your markets and urge others to also.The new Government is trying every tactic to take over the country.The ignorant people that want the health care passed are, the people that never worked and never will. They probably give you food stamps. And as far as the unions, I say stick it up you know what. The dregs of society already have free housing,and free medical care. The illegals also know all the gimmicks for all the free handouts.The only thing wrong with our health care system is the democrats have ruined medicaid,medicare,and social security.And the idiots think they will get something for free.Obama and his communist staff are trying to ruin out country.If you people want to see the real Obama,go to U Tube and look at his book( Dreams of my father)His words,his voice. He hates whites and his friends are Marxist.Go ahead,if you have any conscience.Get your head out of the ground and do some research. Peolsi is as bad or worse than Obama. Thanks again for standing up to the commies and socialist.A true American.

Lisa Northey says …

Kudos to you for standing up and exposing this socialistic program for what it is. To actually have people picket your business for daring to have an opinion that differs from the anointed one is amazing to me. I did not regularly shop in your stores, but I will be from now on!! Keep up the fight!!!!

Mary Rose Kaczorowski says …

Health care is a right, not a commodity. At the 2008 Democratic Convention, after being diagnosed with a brain tumor, Sen. Ted Kennedy said: This is the cause of my life - new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American - north, south, east, west, young, old - will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.

Gary says …

Mr Mackey, Kudos to you sir, for standing up and saying what you believe. The problem with the debate over health care is... there is no debate. If you disagree with the progressive view that government should take care of us like children, because we are either too dumb or too inept to do it ourselves, then we are called un-american, boycotted, attacked verbally or worse, attacked physically. The example the you are dealing with is exactly what I am talking about. You offered a substanive argument with examples of what you think will work in the health care debate. What I see here is (mostly) a host of rash non-critical thinkers that want to boycott your store. They (most) offer no real intelligent thought as to solutions to the problem. Some include ridiculous examples of babies being harmed and wrong legs being amputated as examples of why there should be no tort reform. I am a medical professional, and I have seen colleagues sued for the most inane reasons, not for neglect, abandonment, or just plain old carelessness. Those types of cases are supposed to garner the "big" payouts. But why did no one quote the 13 million dollar settlement for wrongly pulled teet, Or when one of my colleagues in anesthesia was sued because a patients OB GYN was not in the hospital, when she had her emergent C-section, and had to have the on call OB/gyn deliver her baby. The patient claimed the anesthesiologist assaulted her because she wanted her own doctor not the on call doctor. Never mind her babay was in danger and needed to be delivered emergently. Many of these people just don't know what they are talking about, they get their talking points from uber liberals, and don't want to adress facts. Like the fact that BILLIONS of dollars are wasted in medicare and medicaid to outright fraud every year. If the government wants to start health care reform, how about reforming the fraud control of Medicare and Medicaid first. Mr Mackey, I too have shopped at your store for years, and I too, admire you for the way you run your business, treat your customers and employees. I will continue to be a loyal customer.

LV Shasa County, CA says …

I agree with Mr. Mackey. Good for you! If we had a Whole Foods Store in our area I would support your business.

LV Shasa County, CA says …

I support your view Mr. Mackey. If you had a store in Shasta County, I would support it.

James Reeves` says …

I support Mr. Mackey's right to offer an opinion on healthcare or anything else. That is how our country has always been. I also agree that the worse thing would be for government to control healthcare. Exactly what government operation are we really proud of???? I have not shopped at WholeFoods, but I will now look up a store to show my support.

Barrett Cooper says …

Thank you for your thoughtful comments on the Health Care bill, and the courage it takes to make them in this environment of political retribution!! You can count on us as shoppers and our support. More CEOs should have your gumption and I hope your board sees it that way.

Stefany Smith says …

Mr. Mackey, Thank you for exercising your constitutional right of free speech. I hope your company doesn't bow to any pressure from the ultra liberal left who haven't got a clue. I am not a frequent shopper of Whole Foods but will now make the extra effort to do so. I will encourage my friends to do the same!

Virginia Neill says …

I had not been a Whole Foods shopper. I must admit, with a red face, that I thought this was not a place for me since it was so attractive to earthy crunchy liberals. I expected bland, low quality products. Boy, was I wrong! In support of Mr. Mackey, I went to my local Whole Foods in Hadley, MA. WOW!! This place is fantastic! A huge selection of products outstanding in quality and excellent in freshness. You have a regular customer now. Bonus: I'm going to bore all my friends to death with this until they start shopping there as well. Good job, Mr. Mackey. You brought an undiscovered gem to the attention of million: your well run, excellent stores.

Larry Weber says …

Mr. Mackey, I salute you as leader who steps up and provides your views on critical issues. As a former 'public policy' [government affairs] executive with one of the largest companies in the world, I can imagine the advice you received from internal advisors. If only the rest of the US Chamber had the backbone you have shown. As a shopper at Fresh Mart in Dunwoody, I can assure you that in the future I will make the drive to Whole Foods in Sandy Springs. Larry Weber Dunwoody Georgia

AMeltz says …

"Most of the diseases which are both killing us and making health care so expensive-heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and obesity, which account for about 70% of all health care spending, are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal or no alcohol consumption, and other healthy lifestyle choices." Are you kidding me? You think all cancer is preventative. You can get cancer by living in a city like Los Angeles or Denver just by breathing the smog everyday of your life. You can get cancer by drinking polluted water and bottled beverages with biphenol. People didn't even know cigarettes were causing cancer 20 years ago. Diabetes can be hereditary. His ignorance astounds me. BTW: Owning a personal computer is a ridiculous comparison to having a right to healthcare. Get this guy out! John Makey has a right to express his opinion, but he is not the brightest bulb, by alienating his base customer. He could have just kept his mouth shut. I hope he gets a new job very soon, because until then I will not be shopping in Whole Foods. The one clear easy way to express our opinion in this country is by where we spend our hard earned cash. That is my right.

Lynda Jowell says …

Dear Mr. Mackey, My husband and I shop exclusively at Whole Foods, as does my daughter. My son shops at your Pasadena store. When we are in California, we shop at your Manhattan Beach store and love it. We visited the London Whole Foods and still rave about it to our friends. We will continue to shop at your stores and agree with your comments about the Obama Health Care. If I were you, I would not be concerned about the boycott.....Union people do not shop at Whole Foods anyway. First, Obama took over the banks, then the auto industry, and now the Utilities (Cap & Trade)and Health Care. BETTER WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!!

elizabeth stanton says …

I am curious to know if you, Mr. Mackey, are happy with the lead that The Wall Street Journal chose for your article and one that was bound to be viewed as a slam at the president. I would not expect anything else from this paper currently owned by Rupert Murdock. I have loved the Whole Foods Market and what I perceived to be it"s authenticity. But I want to know more and will continue to pursue a more in depth search of the company culture. Meantime looks like you will have an overwhelming influx of new customers from the "birthers". I will reserve judgement about your article on health care other than to say that you do not seem to have done an in depth and balanced investigation. For example we spend more than any other nation on health care and yet have the shortest life expectancy, highest infant mortality, 700 000 people go bankrupt every year for medical bills and so on. I suggest you pursue this further. This is too serious for a superficial view.

leslie pitts says …

Glad to see that you have so many level-headed customers! Of course you have compassion for those who are struggling, but the answer is NOT socialized medicine. Those who disagree with your statements seem only to be able to make emotion-based arguments. Stick to your guns!

Beth says …

John Mackey Horray for you!! please do not change your message. I have not been a Whole Foods shopper but I will for now on. Thanks left wingers for the intro. May GOD Bless you John Beth From Chicago

scott harmon says …

Mr. Mackay: I appreciate your commentary on the health care issue, and I support your comments. As a result of the boycotting of your store by those who think we need government control of our lives, we will make a special effort to frequent Whole Foods and will increase our spending there. Thanks for having the courage to stand up to those who are boycotting. Considering all you do for your employees, you'd think the liberals and unions would be lavishing you with praise. I guess private businesses doing good things for their employees isn't as good as the government taking your money and then doing it.

Steve Lipton says …

Thank God there is a CEO who has the courage to speak up even when it is not politically correct to do so! My wife and I shop at Whole Foods as often as our budget allows and we will continue to support you and the company even more now. Please do not let a vocal minority discourage you from speaking your mind on an imporatnt issue like health care reform.

CeCe Ross says …

Thanks for standing up for your beliefs as a libertarian. You make us all proud. I will continue to shop at Whole Foods, and probably more so now. Good Bye Publix and Kroger!

Mary Ann H says …

Mr. Mackay, Thank you for your views on Healthcare Reform. Our deficit is in the trillions, our national debit is over $10 trillion and Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid are heading south. I believe if Pres Obama's HealthCare Reform is passed, it would do serious damage both short term and long term to our economy. In order to pay for universal healthcare, the US Gov't would have to raise taxes, borrow funds (the US already pays billions in interest), or print money. I agree that HealthCare reform is needed but not what is currently proposed by the Obama Adm. and Congress. I too agree that healthcare is not a right, however, it is a responsibility...and my healthcare is my responsibility. I am now more inclined than ever to shop at Whole Foods. As my husband needs to eat gluten free, we have found your store to have a very large selection of gluten free foods we especially like the Glutino pizza crust. I'd also like to mention that regardless of which Whole Foods Store we're in, your employees are consistently helpful, courteous and positive.

Sally Batson says …

Hello, As I hear all the criticisms on your stance on health care reform, it amazes me, as with other issues, that you are beat up for being on the conservative side of the issue or expressing your own opinions. Michael Jackson and Ted Kennedy's passing have made them heroes; people forget their sordid past and put them on pedestals forgetting the headlines they both made ... Jackson too many to list, Kennedy's Chappequiddick incident among other things - you'd never know that they had happened. I hope we all are allowed to continue to express our opinions, we should not be headline news for being against an issue or conservative, but that appears to be the way it always goes. More power to you, John Mackey. Unfortunately I don't have a Whole Foods around me, but I will gladly shop at your stores when I visit Nashville or any other place that has a Whole Foods in their town. Please continue to speak you mind... I don't have to agree with every liberal to allow them to speak their mind, why shouldn't you be afforded the same freedom?

momustgo says …

Great job John another right wing wacko puts a good company down. I used to shop at the mill plain store in Vancouver Wa but you will not get eny more of my hard earned union Democratic dollars. Fire this freak now!!!!

Cindy H says …

I support your views Mr. Mackey. I don't know how anyone can think that healthcare is an American right. Thank you for writing such a thoughtful piece. If you had a store in Macomb, MI I would support that too.

Craig R says …

We basically go to Whole Foods for vitamins and supplements and agree with you on the health care issue. We agree with your opinion on the health care debacle. We will continue to shop at Whole Foods, especially now.

Marie C says …

Dear Mr. Mackey, I have shopped at Shop-Rite because of convenience. However, in lieu of what has taken place based on your honest comment I have now started shopping at your West Orange store in New Jersey. We need to support freedom of speech in our country. What is happening? When did we lose this right? and why are we allowing this to go on? Your business will increase, not diminish...Any fair American will see it this way. Bravo!!

Erin Hoffman says …

It's funny how people like you are quick to condemn "big government" when it doesn't benefit you. Did you drive on a road to get to school? Did you get loans or grants for it? Did you get food as a youngster that was safe and nutritious? Can you go to the doctor and expect safe treatment and the right to recourse should you have a quack for a doctor? I'm sure you did. All these things are the result of liberal government in some way. And yet, now that you're rich, you don't want others to have access to those programs. We wouldn't have decent wages in this country if it were up to republicans or people like John Mackey. They're nothing but a bunch of hypocrites. I thought the boycotting of Whole Foods was a bit harsh for a difference of opinion, but considering you rely on the same close minded scare tactics that the right wing always does, I'm thinking I'll join that boycott. I mean, it's all about individual freedom. Right? I'm freee to boycott a hypocrite and you're free to lose your job.

Brian Beath says …

Sir (Mr. Mackey) Just a short note thanking you for standing up for your beliefs. As a citizen we have the right to express our opinions and the Democrate who are trying to demagogue you should be ashamed, but they have none. Don't back down. Sincerely Brian Beath

skylark says …

When I heard that there was a move to boycott the Whole Foods Market stores, I looked up the store in Pittsburgh and went the very next day. The store was beautiful. I will, now, return often. Johm Mackey, I agree with your health care proposals.

Nicole says …

I am thrilled that you exercised your right to free speech and publicly announced your opinion on the healthcare reform issue. The resulting controversy lead me to research more about Whole Foods, and I learned very unsettling things about its antics (union busting, lying about local farming suppliers, treating your employees poorly, etc.). Now I will exercise MY right to shop anywhere other than Whole Foods. I have represented about $120 per week in sales at your Portland, Maine, store since it opened (and since you killed its competition, Wild Oats). Although this is but a drop in the bucket with regard to the location's total sales, I am pleased to join others in registering my disgust with you and your policies by boycotting Whole Foods. I will be forwarding all of the information I have gathered to my friends and acquaintances and encouraging them to do the same. Never fear, Mr. Mackey. Reading some of the prior posts, I see you have picked up a lot of new customers from the extreme right wing and way out-there Libertarian crowd. It must feel wonderful to rid yourself of pesky liberals (although I heard our dollars are just as green), so do have fun with your like-minded friends. P.S. We have rumors here in Portland that TJ's is coming...can't wait.

Sandy & Ray Ditirro says …

We COMPLETELY SUPPORT YOU. What happened to the right to free speech? The next time we are in a city with Whole Foods, we will BUY from you. Way to go. You are an exceptional American and a great role model.

Phyllis Mitchell says …

Your stand on healthcare is a refreshing viewpoint and I applaud your having the courage to take a stand. I have shopped at your wonderful stores in the past, but now I will support you by going the extra mile to shop in your stores. We need more business leaders like you. Keep up the good work!

Gary S. says …

Go John! As unfortunate as the title change to your Journal article was, for just that reason it has brought the most fortunate health care plan to the forefront of the national discussion. You can build a Whole Foods Store in my part of San Antonio anytime. The new hospital just built nearby might not have been necessary if whole food was more available nearby. Thanks for Whole Foods and thanks for writing your article! (P.S. And thanks for all the gluten free products sold at Whole Foods!)

Sarah Smith says …

I agree with Brian whole heatedly. People who react to your sound business ideas and honest public opinion with angry protests are being disrespectful. Freedom of speech is freedom to hear all ideas, and then weigh the merits justly and with fairness and openness in a spirit of respect. Their views have already been heard and are very much in the minority. I'd rather have an open and honest OpEd than uncertainty buried in thousands of pages of beurocracy. Thank you for stepping up and proposing thoughtful and honest options for health care. We all want a better system. But it has to be based on honesty and looking out for the welfare of all. We can still save money and save lives. Not by cutting traditional costs for older people who need care the most, but by changing the way we approach health care - like training and paying doctors to use less expensive, and often as effective, proven alternative cures first before delving into lifelong expensive medicines and more drastic measures. There is positive change that can happen. It's sound ideology that drives good, positive change.

JoanneVaccarella says …

God bless you Mr. Mackay for speaking out and preserving and defending our free enterprise system and liberties for non governmental control of our healthcare system which will just create gross tax increases, loss of jobs, and rationing of healthcare, and creating a move towards socialism. I will continue to shop more often at your store and encourage others so also. Keep speaking out, we are defending our country now. May God bless you. Joanne Vaccarella.

P. D. Holsen says …

Thank you Mr. Mackey for openly expressing your ideas with boldness. If more folks would stand on their values and be open about their beliefs maybe less people would think that "political correctness" is the ultimate in intelligent thinking. You would think that in our wonderful country our President and legislators would want lots of ideas BEFORE they consider any type of reform, whether it be targeting the healthcare delivery process or any process which our citizens depend on. The healthcare reform currently being proposed by the President and many others is ill conceived, damaging to our hard won freedoms and surely dangerous to our long term health. We must stop this train before it derails us all. Because of my respect for folks like you, I will be coming to your store in Milwaukee this Friday to purchase my groceries. I have never come to your store before. I will be happy to support you and any other patriotic individual who dares to stand up and defend our actual rights, such as free speech. Please build a store in Waukesha. If you build it, we will come!

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