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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ethan... ethans_momma06

I'll shop there when it's more affordable.

I could care less if he doesn't believe in global warming, it's not like he's actively interefereing with their research or anything.

nonmember avatar blue

I think it's silly when people won't shop somewhere, because someone thinks something different. Unless a CEO is out skinning puppies, or giving money to hate groups...what does it matter? Who cares what they say?

dirti... dirtiekittie

there isn't a whole foods anywhere near me. and if there was, i probably still wouldn't shop there, as i find it terribly overpriced. that said, so long as his politics are not directly tied into our common goal of "organic food at reasonable prices" then i could give two flip flops if he loves Ayn Rand (even if that is admittedly kinda cool). i care more about the politics of say politicians, who actually do influence our current state of healthcare and government spending. THOSE people are the ones we should care about their personal politics. :/

Missi... MissiQuinn

I can't believe I just read an article based on the assumption that only liberals worry about eating healthy. Ridiculous.

tbruc... tbrucemom

Never been to a Whole Foods, but I actually might go there BECAUSE of his views, which by the way LOTS of people share. "Global warming" was just a way for Gore to get rich and Obamacare is unconstitutional. I do believe in climate change, our world has changed many times and long before there were humans inhabiting it.

Reepi... Reepicheep.CSL

Seriously? So he misspoke because his view differ from yours? Wake up and realise that not everyone views the world the way you do and you can't neatly fit people onto a labeled box.

Chances are you even know people who hold views that would shock or horrify your liberal mind.

Better stay home!

corri... corrinacs

For those that say its overpriced :/.  I find thier produce and such about the same price as the normal supermarket......perhaps I live in the wrong place, who knows.

But, to be honest, as an investor, his political leanings don't mean much to me unless it spills over his company in such a way that I do not view his company sustainable, profitable and congruent with my views in terms of what they do.  As long as when changes are made by Obamacare that he does his part to ensure his employees are well cared for.

dirti... dirtiekittie

@corrinacs - no, you live in the right place. lucky you - for me, organic produce is, in some cases, almost as high as twice what i would pay for non-organic produce at the grocery store. :(

nonmember avatar Gretta

Get a grip, lady. People do have differing thoughts and ideas than you.

ciao_... ciao_kitty

One of the reason why prices at Whole Foods (or Paycheck) is high is because of the benefits of the employees! They make above minimum wage, have medical, dental and other profit sharing benefits. That all cost money, but it makes for a better work environment. I can see why he isn't big on Obamacare, but most companies prerogative is to have a bigger profit and in order to keep the costs low, they forgo benefits ("no health care? no benefits? minimum wage? pto is for wusses! where do I sign up?"). But, Mr.Mackey understands that a happier, healthier person who is invested in the company is also going to be a better, motivated employee. 

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