The Whole Foods Debate: Shop, Boycott or Try CSA
Even as Priuses continue to fill the parking lots of Whole Foods throughout Los Angeles, CEO John Mackey's recent public airing of his Libertarian, right-wing politics has left many consumers threatening to boycott to chain. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, "The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare," Mackey outlined his every-man-for-himself thoughts on health care, touting his own company--notorious for union busting--and its employee benefits. Arguing that individuals are responsible for taking care of themselves--eat those organic vegetables, America--Mackey conveniently alludes to his own brand as part of a potential solution.
Image courtesy of Whole Foods
Michael Pollen, author of the sustainable food manifestos The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, spoke out against boycotting the chain, saying "Mackey is wrong on health care, but Whole Foods is often right about food." Pollan himself has shown how broad ranging being "right" about food can be in the The Omnivore's Dilemma, comparing the industrial-style organic farming of salad greens in California to the pasture-based, beyond organic farming practices of Polyface Farms in Virginia.
With countless, year-round farmers' markets bringing enough Polyface-style-leaning seasonal produce to LA, many people skip the produce isle at Whole Foods or wherever else they may shop altogether. But the major resource Whole Foods corners the market on is sustainably-raised meat. Unlike San Francisco, with its independent butcher stores selling cuts of locally-raised meat and artisanal salumi CSAs, Los Angeles isn't long on sources of grass-fed, pasture-raised protein.
Slow Food LA, inspired by their sister chapter in SF, is trying to change that with their CSA 2.0 social network. Many of the smaller, ethically minded farmers and ranchers sell whole animals, not conveniently cut, trimmed and plastic-wrapped chops, steaks or other cuts. The social network gives people a place to meet online, get in touch with vendors and make arrangements to buy-in on, split up and distribute a whole pig, lamb, cow or bison. Launched in the spring of this year, the network has yet to take off in any major way, but as a new twist on community-supported agriculture, it can only as successful as the people involved in the community make it.
So--does any one want to go in on a whole hog?
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