I don’t have to tell you what core values are important to Whole Foods. If you can’t venture a guess, you can check the long list here. For those of you who do know their mission to provide high quality, natural and organic products at competing prices might not know how reliable their stickers and labels actually are.

Some believe that their $25 billion public corporation has ditched the values of the niche they grew upon back in 1980 to keep up with the business “if you’re not growing, you’re dying” mentality. Their customer loyalty originated from their local products being grown naturally and/or organically. Think to yourself, what’s the difference? Most do not know. Here is what Whole Foods say about their products:

  • Choose foods that are whole, fresh, natural, organic, local, seasonal and unprocessed.
  • Eliminate the consumption of refined, highly processed foods and foods void of nutrients, such as artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, sweeteners and hydrogenated fats.

They mention in their core values that they plan to provide healthy eating education, yet most of their customers probably do not know the difference. I can make this claim because there are currently very minimal guidelines that define what “natural” means. Monitoring what stores claim to be natural/organic is not monitored in any formal way, even if there were a definition. Whether the fault is at the system or the company themselves is another debate in itself.

The fact is that as Whole Foods has grown into the organic food monopoly they are today, they have been straying from their mission. A majority of their products actually come from a few companies in California, not locally grown. This in turn forces the actual, local organic farms not being able to compete with the prices of the larger “natural” food distributors.  This forces them out of business, leaving our country being dominated by mass production of inorganic produce, the exact opposite of what Whole Foods stands for. Is it ethical for them to mark up their average products to the price of the more desirable natural produce that they claim to sell? Any which way you look at it, I think not.

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4 responses »

  1. Jordi says:

    Why do you call them a monopoly?

  2. Jordi says:

    You are absolutely right that “natural” is meaningless as a food category. At some level, every atom on Earth is “natural.” Even synthesized chemicals are synthesized from naturally-occuring atioms unless their is some food additive that uses Jordinium or whatever other exotic bottom-of-the-periodic-chart is the newest created element.

    However, and it is an interesting story how we ended up with organic produce trucked to central PA, “organic” does mean something according to the US government.

  3. Mike says:

    I don’t know why I used the word monopoly, it was the wrong term to use. I guess I meant a leading powerhouse in that industry.

    That is a good find on what organic means. I was then looking for specifics on how and how often are these products monitored, but had trouble getting something official. I saw a few claims from articles and blogs that said many of the products that are sold as organic are not regulated closely by third party organizations to confirm that they actually are. It would be interesting to know how much freedom these farms have in bending the rules or finding loop holes in the system. I don’t see how organic farmers can supply to huge corporations like Wal-Mart and Whole Foods by applying “techniques first used thousands of years ago” as said by the government. Organic foods and big businesses don’t seem to make sense. Bloomberg Business Week argues why pretty well: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_42/b4005001.htm

  4. Marcus Cammarn says:

    magine a world where organic farming is the leading form of agriculture. A world where everyone-from all income levels and geographic locations-has access to food grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizers that have been linked to myriad diseases and disorders. A world where instead of just a few agribusinesses getting rich off selling chemicals and chemically grown food, farmers thrive economically while they also help improve the health of our fragile ecosystem. Where the need for millions of pounds of toxins is eliminated keeping them from entering our water, air and soil. A world where agriculture and nature exist in harmony providing healthier food for everyone.*

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