Whole Foods Market (WFM) is again at the forefront of the movement for greater transparency in food production and processing. The supermarket chain recently announced a comprehensive ratings system for fresh produce and flowers, which parallels the color-coded animal welfare standards for meat and the sustainability standards for seafood that Whole Foods earlier pioneered. Read more
Have you ever found yourself at Whole Foods shopping, for say, kale and quinoa, and felt the need to poke fun at foodie culture? Some people go even further, writing a rap song about it and posting the video on YouTube. Read more
Last week, when asked about his new trim physique, Bill Clinton stunned CNN’s Wolf Blitzer by revealing that he has lost 24 pounds eating a mostly “plant-based” diet.
The former President told Blitzer that he mostly eats beans, legumes, vegetables, and fruit and takes a protein supplement in his morning fruit and almond milk smoothie. Clinton underwent a quadruple bypass in 2004 and had two stents put in this past February after learning that one of his bypassed arteries was blocked again. While many commentators are hung up on his dramatic weight loss and the debate about the nutritional value of veganism, they are missing the most important story: Clinton’s change from a life-shortening Standard American Diet (SAD) to a plant-based diet of whole foods. Read more
Massachusetts poultry farmer Jennifer Hashley has a problem. From the moment she started raising pastured chickens outside Concord, Mass. in 2002, there was, as she put it “nowhere to go to get them processed.” While she had the option of slaughtering her chickens in her own backyard, Hashley knew that selling her chickens would be easier if she used a licensed slaughterhouse. Nor is she alone in her troubles. Despite growing demand for local, pasture-raised chickens, small poultry producers throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, and even New York can’t or won’t expand for lack of processing capacity.
It isn’t only small producers who are feeling the pinch—a widespread lack of processing infrastructure appropriate for small farmers has caused supply chain problems for the big retailers as well. Whole Foods—the world’s largest natural-foods supermarket—wants to aggressively expand its local meat sourcing, according to its head meat buyer, Theo Weening. But it faces the same limitation as Hashley. Most regions of the country have “lots of agriculture but nowhere to process,” Weening told me, adding that the phenomenon is most acute in the northeast.
Whole Foods wants to change all that. In a move that has national implications, the retail giant has confirmed to Grist that it is working with the USDA as well as state authorities to establish a fleet of top-of-the-line “mobile slaughterhouses” for chicken. Starting with a single unit serving Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Hudson Valley, N.Y. area, Whole Foods hopes to offer small farmers an affordable way to process chickens as well as to vastly increase the amount of locally-sourced chicken it sells. If successful, this program could be expanded to any region of the country with similar infrastructure shortages.
While Whole Foods CEO John Mackey recently publicly inflamed the health care debate, behind the scenes Whole Foods has been quietly dismantling a key piece of legislation that would make it easier for workers who want to form a union to do so.
Whole Foods and Starbucks are backing a “compromise” to strip the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) of a key provision. The so-called “card-check” provision would require employers to recognize its employees’ union once a majority has signed union authorization cards. Currently, employers often refuse to recognize new unions even if all their employees have signed up. New contracts often take years to negotiate, meanwhile workers are frequently subject to harassment and sometimes fired. The card-check provision is so central to this legislation, it has been called “the card-check bill.” Read more