A Pagan's Blog

A Pagan's Blog


Whole Foods ‘Organics’ From China!

posted by Gus diZerega

Whole
Foods, which touts its support for locally grown food and organic agriculture, imports a great deal of its frozen food from China. So says a report from ABC’s
I-Team
.    We are all aware of current Chinese
honesty and quality regarding food.  Poisoned milk
 and dead pets come to mind.  Knowing this, Whole
Foods has put China as the country of origin in very small type on its packages and, according to the I-Team report, kept the knowledge of how dependent they were on Chinese food hidden.  ’California Blend’ vegetables are not exactly from California.  


Worse,
there is no reasonable way for anyone to tell if food that comes from China is
in fact organic.  We are dealing
with a despotic government that controls the news and has a history of
suppressing information it does not want anyone to know.  Further, there is no sane way to argue
it supports local agriculture.  The
only less local agriculture will finally become available when we have Lunar or
Martian colonies.

I
have continually argued in this blog and elsewhere that publicly held
corporations cannot be trusted with food 
production because they are interested only in profit.  While the founder of a corporation
might be a principled person, as when Amadeo Giannini  founded Bank of America, the internal logic of control being determined by who
has invested the most virtually guarantees that there will be no lasting
ethical commitment that interferes with making money.  Eventually the organization will be interested only in money and will do whatever it takes to get it.  

Because
I believe interacting with any living system has an ethical dimension, and that agriculture in particular is or should be a highly ethical enterprise, I have
come to the conclusion that while corporations are good at making cars, they
should not be trusted with producing food.  Ever.

Now Whole Foods has become an unexpected ‘exhibit A” to my argument.  They tell us of their commitment to organic agriculture and local produce, while making it difficult to discover how little they walk their talk.

Whole
Foods has been a subject of much debate on this blog, and as evidence of John
Mackey’s personal commitment to healthy eating piled up, I softened my view
that the chain should only be patronized when there are no reasonable organic
food outlets or local food outlets near by.  But that was with the assumption that the company was likely
to be honorable until John Mackey retired. 

I
may have been won over to my qualified acceptance much too quickly.  Listen to the video from ABC and decide for yourself.  As for me, I am doubly committed to NEVER buying their store brand.  It has shown itself to be deliberately misleading, or worse, and competes against the very same local agriculture the company tries to take credit for supporting.



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Cheryl Hill

posted February 23, 2010 at 7:06 pm


So much for Whole Foods supporting locally grown and certified organic products.
To view the list “Country of Origin – Whole Food Market Internal Document – Do Not Distribute”, go here:
http://www.acc-tv.com/images/wjla/news/iteamwholefoodslist052108.pdf
You’ll see items like basil from Egypt, chives from China and parsley from the Czech Republic! I grow those – and more – in the herb garden in my backyard for crying out loud!
It’s sickening. And yet, people will continue to shop there. Maybe everyone’s so jaded to hypocrisy it fails to make an impact anymore.



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Singing Sparrow

posted February 23, 2010 at 9:32 pm


i believe that people shop at the local Whole Foods because there is some type of mind control being practiced there in the lighting and the music that makes people feel happy and included. I am not kidding and I stay out of that store and stick to the quiet old fashioned “health food” store very close to where I live in other words within walking distance. No spinning lights, no spinning music just old fashioned produce and bread and bulk items. No fancy $5 breads or $12 brownies just the “health foods” we have grown to trust.
Years ago I rented a room to a young man who worked there and he said “well, Whole Foods is all military/industrial money no different really than Safeway or Macy’s.
Anyway I really do think there is something hincky with that concern/.



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The L

posted February 24, 2010 at 5:31 am


The more I read about the food industry, the more convinced I am that the second I move out of my parents’ home, I need to start an organic vegetable garden. Not just for me, but for the sake of my future kids.



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Libba Letton

posted February 24, 2010 at 10:12 am


Hi, Libba Letton from Whole Foods Market here. I’m not sure why, but this WJLA story, which aired almost two years ago in May 2008, is making the rounds on the internet again. The piece is full of errors and incorrect assumptions, which we address point by point here, on our blog: http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/whole-foods-market-responds-to-wjla/.



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Cheryl Hill

posted February 24, 2010 at 11:08 am


Libba, unless the “made in China” information on the back of the products is in error, Whole Foods can hardly claim to be supporting locally grown products.
Whole Foods’ damage control doesn’t negate common sense.



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DH

posted February 24, 2010 at 11:12 am


There is so much wrong with this argument.
1. The US barely produces a fraction of the organic food that US consumers demand, and therefore organic food simply has to be imported.
2. You can analyse food in a lab to determine if it is organic.
3. Typically Wholefoods’ organic certifier will audit the facility that the “organic” food is being produced/grown.



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Gus diZerega

posted February 24, 2010 at 12:09 pm


The chief issue that bothers me is contained in DH’s argument above, although he or she will not like what I do with it. Most organic food we eat is not produced here at home. It is raised abroad, in areas with very cheap labor, Why? It’s cheaper. For the consumer? Not so much.
For the middleman. The profit is bigger.
By bringing in this food from abroad we make it difficult if not impossible for more organic farmers to thrive because they are competing with extremely low labor costs abroad. Thus we make the change-over to better farming here more difficult. Not only is local agriculture actively injured when purchases are from elsewhere, it lowers demand for local products which depresses their prices and slows the increase in their supply. It’s called Economics 101.
This outcome is 100% undesirable. I expect Safeway not to care much (and by the way they also offer some local products) but Whole Foods with all its noise about ecology and health? Come on.
There is no getting around this. For the company to simultaneously tout local growing is, shall we say, misleading…?
I need say little about carbon footprint issues as they are pretty obvious. The carbon footprint of organic food from China is bigger than the carbon footprint of organic food from California or Texas or Florida. The food is frozen, so it really is not important in that respect where it comes from. It should be produced here. There is only an argument for imported food that can be grown here being imported if it is sold fresh unseasonally. This argument does not apply to frozen food.
MAYBE the labeling of organic is accurate. Maybe not. I have learned over the years that government agencies, ESPECIALLY when dominated by “conservative” administrations as ours have been for the past almost 10 years, often fail to do their job. Now the very interests that often decry regulation are now the ones praising evaluations coming from one of the more repressive regimes on earth with a record of unhealthy agricultural production. (Are you listening Steve Mackey?)
Again, in making this argument I am subordinating economics a little bit to ethical relations with our land and with our farmers. As, this is something corporations are institutionally biased against. This is WHY the corporate world initially tried to get national standards set for organic agriculture, standards that overrode state standards. It created national standardization backed by law – the enemy of local vitality – and it made it easier for agribusiness to twist those standards because they were controlled in one place, a place where money speaks louder than anything else; Washington, DC.



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Thistle313

posted February 24, 2010 at 3:05 pm


This is WHY the corporate world initially tried to get national standards set for organic agriculture, standards that overrode state standards. It created national standardization backed by law – the enemy of local vitality – and it made it easier for agribusiness to twist those standards because they were controlled in one place, a place where money speaks louder than anything else; Washington, DC.
This.
Back in the ’70s, Hormel sued the State of Michigan in Federal court over Michigan’s standards for processed meats, such as hot dogs. Michigan standards were much higher than Federal standards and Hormel argued, successfully, that this was a restraint on interstate commerce. The court ruled that hot dogs made in Michigan had to conform to state standards, but hot dogs sold in Michigan but made in other states only had to follow federal standards.
Local coney island restaurants made a point of saying they used “Only Michigan Made Hot Dogs”.



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The Health Dude

posted February 25, 2010 at 6:47 am


“Health is wealth” is known to all and everyone wants good health. So, Let us build a food habit discipline, keep pace with work, rest and or exercise to Achieve good health, The ultimate wealth.



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will phule

posted March 1, 2010 at 3:10 pm


Old news, why post it if you don’t even bother to follow-up on what has or hasn’t changed in the past year and a half since the report aired.



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Cheryl Hill

posted March 1, 2010 at 4:10 pm


Well it wasn’t old news to ME. Some of us have busy lives and can’t be regularly trawling the Internet for every piece of news out there.
If you can, then by all means link us to an update on this.



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Gus diZerega

posted March 1, 2010 at 4:59 pm


Will- You sound like a shill for Whole Foods. You’ve ignored the arguments I gave and offer nothing new. If you have something new to say, say it. If you don’t, submit your troll bill to Whole Foods. I hope they pay you well.



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Gary

posted January 2, 2011 at 10:45 am


This is old news and I found their response to this adequate.



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Gus diZerega

posted January 2, 2011 at 1:32 pm


You are responding to an older post as well…
Assuming that Whole Foods has responded adequately to whether Chinese vegetables are genuinely organic, there is another dimension to the problem. When American organic growers are forced to compete with Chinese growers, they are often at an enormous disadvantage, as anyone with a brain can see. That is WHY Whole Foods buys Chinese organics.
By outsourcing organic agriculture to China we are retarding its growth in the US.
This makes good sense for a corporate bottom line, but it makes no sense at all for someone worried about promoting organic agriculture here at home.
That’s why I shop at the local farmer’s market and at purely local supermarkets. When Whole Foods comes under pure corporate logic after its founder departs this world or retires, we can be 100% sure it’s institutional commitment to organic will evaporate completely and the company will only be worried about share values and CEO perks and bonuses. It’s profits will be used in part to manipulate organic standards whenever it sees an advantage in doing so, and their centralization in Washington will help this enormously.
It is vital that we keep local agriculture and stores viable when we have the choice – and shop at Whole Foods only when we don’t.



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brightidea

posted February 8, 2011 at 10:30 pm


I start doubting if vegetables and fruits in Whole Food are true organic or not.
Needless to say, I don’t want to shop at Whole Food.
Once I got supposedly organic cabbage from this market and when I cooked it, it tasted like plastic and I put in trash.



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cichodajki

posted March 8, 2011 at 11:41 pm


I spent last 4 hours reading your articles ! And must say: awseome website ! !
seks randki



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Electric Back Massager

posted August 13, 2011 at 9:58 pm


Organic foods? hmm, let me see how these affects my health.



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Rey

posted March 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm


Yeah Will…you do sound like a paid troll. Just keeping it real! What Whole Foods should really be doing is showing us how they are investing in the growth of agriculture production here in the U.S. – As was stated by Gus in the intro of this post…I too firmly believe the agriculture industry & grocery market industries should have nothing to do with public held companies. When some Noble & Wealthy individual, or group can plant the seed of a company along these lines…then we concerned humans and get behind that sort of endeavor and help create the synergy to cause it to spread as a standard among grocery markets and producers of agriculture.



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Christopher Kiril

posted April 28, 2012 at 6:08 pm


Hi All,

The whole truth is that this type of thing happens all the time. We have been getting screwed by Corporate America for most of time. I saw a report on Stop & Shop changing the “use by” dates on chicken. So i went to my local store and saw it first hand. On the Stop & Shop brand chicken the date was printed on the label where the weight is, but when I flipped it over obscurley on the side in faded print on the clear wrap was an older date. Most things you see advertised or promoted are usually not true…….thanks to semantics, which is simply word play. It’s used in marketing all the time. It’s a legal way to lie…….So, the only solution to this is BUY LOCAL from your curb-side farm stand. That’s what we need to do…….for produce at least.



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