Foods May Be Whole, Ethics Are Not

It seems as if the furor over the behavior of Whole Foods Chairman and CEO, John Mackey, isn’t going to die down anytime soon. It shouldn’t. His tactics for growing his business at the expense of his competition’s were terribly unethical. Business isn’t war; business can be conducted competetively and fairly. To disparage one’s competition in an underhanded way shows a weakness for doing things the right way. Apologizing after eight years of irresponsibility is not going to lead to forgiveness for Mackey. I was at Whole Foods in West Hartford, Connecticut, this past weekend. Sure, it is a nice store with nice products and nice employees. However, the behavior of the CEO (how can he lead a company that cultivates such a wholesome image effectively now?) leaves a bad taste in your mouth. There are a lot of people that already cannot afford to shop for the premium products that Whole Foods sells. If Whole Foods succeeds in swallowing up Wild Oats, then you would think that prices can only go in one direction, up. Mackey’s goal of acquiring his number one rival, Wild Oats Markets, Inc. is misguided. I used to shop at Wild Oats, also in West Hartford, but that was before Whole Foods came to town. When I lived in Boston, Massachusetts, I shopped at Bread & Circus, which eventually became Whole Foods, and I loved it, so that is why I switched my allegiance to Whole Foods from Wild Oats. Still, I think we need both competing on the same level in order to keep them honest and to keep the consumer as the number one priority. One certainty, I prefer many of the locally owned markets to the large chains. You can get a heck of a lot more value for only a slightly higher price, and you support local merchants in the process. Now that is a win-win. Natural, local, and organic foods taste much better when purchased at the markets that I really love:

Garden of Light, Glastonbury, Connecticut

Putney Food Co-Op, Putney, Vermont

Highland Park Market, Manchester, Connecticut

It’s Only Natural Market, Middletown, CT

Also, special mention to Holcomb Farm C.S.A. in Granby, Connecticut, where we get our vegetables (and some fruit) during the summer. Community Supported Agriculture, makes so much sense. Whole Foods may do some good, but shipping products from all over the world is less desirable than ever before, no matter how good it tastes. In New England, there are many C.S.A.’s, and they can be located through the Northeast Organic Farming Association.

Which brings me back to ethics in business. Food is a big business. Just read one of my favorite books, Fast Food Nation, by Erich Schlosser, and you will realize just how big agribusiness really is. At Horst Engineering, we make products for an entirely different industry, but we are keen observers of all businesses. We note the slip ups made by more heralded business leaders, like John Mackey of Whole Foods, and we attempt to adjust our course to make sure that we are clear of the potential pitfalls that trap otherwise solid businesses in the vortex of misjudgement.

2 Responses to “Foods May Be Whole, Ethics Are Not”

  1. 1 SL 18 July 2007 at 8:21 am

    I just read a BusinessWeek article by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, of the Yale School of Management. I know Jeff. He is very big on CEO ethics:

  1. 1 Whole (Foods) Lot of Problems « Life Adventures Trackback on 14 August 2008 at 9:26 am

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Horst Engineering

Thread Rolling Inc.

Sterling Machine

Horst Spikes


Sites and sounds from Day 2 @gpgloucester #gpgloucester The fog was burning off by the end of the Cub Juniors 9-14 year old race.

#horstspikes #cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross #horstengineering #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #madeinconnecticut #madeinnewengland #madeinusa 🇺🇸 It was great to see so many friends at today’s Western #Massachusetts Athletic Club Monroe (Dunbar Brook) Trail Race. We all ran the 2-Miler. We couldn’t stay long after the finish, but we did see Kelsey Allen win overall in the 10.5 Mile main event. Hooray! #trailrunning 🏃🏻 Before and after the Western #Massachusetts Athletic Club’s Monroe (Dunbar Brook) Trail Race in the #Berkshires I rode (very wet) over from Savoy Mountain State Forest where we camped last night. On the ride along the #DeerfieldRiver I checked out #ZoarGap and then we walked down to the river to see the Tooth. Sadly, the kayakers had already passed through. The foliage turned overnight. #trailrunning #cycling 🚴🏽🏃🏻⛰ #Cyclocross racing in the morning and downhill #mountainbiking @thundermountainbikepark in the afternoon. We got in two late afternoon runs on rental bikes and are pumped to return for more fun in the future. #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #thundermountainbikepark #berkshireeast 🚵‍♀️⛰ 30 kids in the 9-12 year old Race at the #mansfieldhollow #Cyclocross That’s just awesome! @the_ccap #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #crossspikes #crossisboss This image was from pregame, but approaching halftime @uconnfootball there aren’t many more fans than you see here. 35 (Memphis ) to 21 (UCONN) is a lot of points in 30 minutes of #football #uconn This morning I got to hear Warren Rustand, inspirational entrepreneur and fellow @ypoglobal member, speak at a #ypo Connecticut River Valley Chapter meeting. It was fitting that the event was @riverfrontrecapture and literally ON the #connecticutriver I walked from @horsteng via my favorite train bridge. The 10 minute trip back to the plant was ample time to reflect on the #leadership lessons that he shared with our group. @garyrome and I decided that we should memorialize our time with this dedicated athlete, by requesting that he join our photo. #horstengineering #business Fantastic but FRUSTRATING race at The Night Weasels Cometh #cyclocross Was charging hard but punctured with two to go and rode 3/4ths of a lap on my rear flat before getting to my pit bike. I just glued this tubular two nights ago. Grrrr! Gave up more than a dozen spots. This string of bad luck will end and my fitness will pay off. Still not a bad ending to a work day. Onward! #teamhorstsports #crossspikes #nightweasels 🚴🏽 🌕 Good, inspiring, and educational fun at #MetalStorm in Sudbury. I couldn’t find a salesman to sell me a lathe, but I called one on his mobile, and ended up with FOUR coming to my rescue! That’s service. ;) #precisionmachining #robotics #machining #instamachinist #cncmachining #cnc #aerospace #manufacturing #horstengineering #sterlingmachine #crossspikes #madeinconnecticut #madeinmassachusetts #madeinnewengland #madeinusa 🇺🇸

Follow me on Twitter



Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 284 other followers

%d bloggers like this: