Will Whole Foods CEO's Surprising Politics Ruin Your Appetite for Organic?

greens at whole foodsMore than likely, you were thinking the Whole Foods CEO was a crunchy hippie type who plays a few rounds of golf with Obama and other liberal politicians on occasion while sipping green juice and eating a vegan snack. But the truth is that the man who holds that gig, John Mackey, vehemently opposes Obamacare and doesn't accept the scientific consensus behind climate change. I know, right?! What the heck? Neither of those characteristics -- nor plenty of the CEO's other traits, like his affinity for Ayn Rand -- really add up to the image most of us have of someone running the top organic grocer in the country.

I could understand why some Whole Foods customers might be horrified by Mackey's politics and may even consider them enough to stop shopping there. But I can be cool with his opposing views -- mostly because we have common, important ground.


And that's on the importance of making organic, sustainable food more mainstream. The significance of improving Americans' diets by making real, whole foods more readily accessible. The guy is a vegan who sells sustainably raised meat and fish. A CEO who has made decisions like eliminating the sale of overfished species of cod and octopus at his stores' seafood counters.

Sure, he might have exaggerated and completely misspoken when he called the government's health care overhaul "fascism." And of course that gets under my skin. But he'll tell you straight out that he approves of the First Lady's efforts to reform the American diet. And apparently, he's been paid just $1/year as his salary since 2006, because he said he "reached a place in my life where I no longer want to work for money, but simply for the joy of the work itself and to better answer the call to service that I feel so clearly in my own heart." Admirable, no?

But ultimately, I feel like can't let the guy's polarizing views influence my grocery shopping habits. He's just one cog on a wheel of a business that caters to my personal needs/health goals and reflects my values. As long as he continues to make valuable organic/all-natural/better-for-you foods more and more available to me and other Americans, the best way to think about his less palatable politics is probably, "To each their own."

How do you feel about the Whole Foods' CEO's politics? Does it change how you feel about shopping there?


Image via Yvon/Flickr

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