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

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I crashed out of the Singlespeed Championship @renocxnats (on the dreaded off-camber) but not before having more fun. @artroti43 raced on the frosty course ❄️ at day break. 🚴🏽 We met a lot more @horsteng #crossspikes customers. I hung with little bunny hopper 🐰 Miles, the Junior 11-12 year old Silver Medalist.🥈I cheered for Nic, who represented @the_ccap in the Junior 15-16 age group. @sportstert and Iva came down from Tahoe to cheer LOUDLY for me. 🎺 I got my badly sprained ankle taped and iced. I had a beer. 🍺 I’m even looking forward to my red eye flight home ✈️ . Best of all, I’ll see @trailrunningmom and the kids on Sunday. I can’t explain the sensation, but despite the pain, I’m ready for next #Cyclocross season to begin... after some rest. #teamhorstsports #cxnats #horstengineering @parkavebikeshop #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross #crossiscoming You could say that at least for this week, I’m married to my #bicycle - - -

@renocxnats #cxnats @seven_cycles #sevencycles #teamhorstsports #horstengineering #crossspikes @horsteng #chapelofthebells #Cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross Good day representing @horsteng at @renocxnats in the 45-49 age group. It’s a great course. The wind was blowing hard, but the sun finally came out. I’m happy with 37th place but should have made a move to get to 29th, which was 30 seconds ahead. That’s a long way when you are going flat out and cramping. 4,500 foot elevation was a factor. I’m disappointed that they cut one lap of my race when I wasn’t close to getting lapped by the leaders. You train this hard and come all this way; and you want to get the most racing for the $ and time invested. They only let 25 riders do the full six laps. The only positive to come out of that was that I watched fellow New Englander @adammyerson execute a perfect final sprint to win the Stars and Stripes again. Teammate @artroti43 had a good ride too. 
@seven_cycles #sevencycles #horstengineering #teamhorstsports @bicycleseastct #crossspikes #cxnats #renocxnats #Cyclocross #crossisboss @therichardsachs didn’t have the race he hoped for but it was still great to see him @renocxnats and “pit” for him. He said he officially started his second off season, but first of 2018. @artroti43 and I played soigneur/mechanic for 90 minutes, but minus the massage! atmo #renocxnats #richardsachs #teamhorstsports @horsteng #crossspikes #hauteframebuilding #Cyclocross #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross I previously hadn’t published this image, but it recently received an Honorable Mention in the 2017 @appalachianmountainclub Photo Contest for the People Outdoors category. Check out my blog (link in profile) for the interesting story of his photo (shot with this iPhone 6s), a trip report from this amazing Maine adventure, and past contest history. I love this image of two of my favorite women. I’m barred from submitting images to the 2018 contest, but I’ll be back in 2019. #appalachianmountainclub #baxterstatepark #katahdin Congratulations to Master Park, the Park Family, and the entire team at Park’s U.S. #Taekwondo at the Grand Opening of the new facility in the former VFW building. Our kids love it! So much better than being next door to the pawn shop and liquor store.😊#tkd 🇺🇸🇰🇷 This morning, the @trinitycollege Main Quad was bathed in beautiful sunshine ☀️but it was frigid and the wind was blowing! ❄️ The chapel was packed with an overflow crowd to celebrate the (shortened) life of a lovely friend. She will be missed. #circleoflife 🌏 #Repost @horsteng
We just launched the #cxnats edition of #crossspikes News and it is chock full of great information. Click our profile for a link to the newsletter and info regarding @renocxnats pre-orders and on-site sales. See you at the Race Expo! #crossisboss 🚴🏽🏆 Brilliant sunshine☀️ at the @shenipsitstriders #newyearsday run. #shenipsitstriders #boltonnotch #hopriverstateparktrail #teamhorstsports #trailrunning ❄️🌲⛄️🏃🏻

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