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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Michael Pollan has denounced the Whole Foods boycott at New Majority.

John Mackey’s views on health care, much as I disagree with them, will not prevent me from shopping at Whole Foods. I can understand why people would want to boycott, but it’s important to play out the hypothetical consequences of a successful boycott. Whole Foods is not perfect, however if they were to disappear, the cause of improving Americans’ health by building an alternative food system, based on more fresh food, pastured and humanely raised meats and sustainable agriculture, would suffer.
He took a rather different attitude towards the chain in The Omnivore's Dilemma back in 2006, when his criticism of Whole Foods led to a twenty-five page reply from Mackey and then this reply to the reply from Pollan.
After spending time with you and reading your letter, I've wondered if perhaps I did, as you imply in your letter, present a unfair caricature of Whole Foods in The Omnivore's Dilemma, suggesting a store where organic, local and artisanal food is just window dressing to help sell a much more ordinary industrial product. Indeed, nothing would please me more than to conclude I owe you and the company an apology. I'm not quite there yet. But I sincerely hope you will prove my portrait of Whole Foods wrong, that the company has not thrown its lot in with the industrialization, globalization and dilution of organic agriculture, but rather stands for something better. For my own part, I stand ready to write that apology, and look forward to doing it.
The two met on a stage at Berkeley to continue the discussion in February the next year.