There was some big news the other day about Whole Foods and the Alberta oil sands. Seems that Whole Foods (where I shop, mind you, until I live somewhere there is a year-round Farmers Market) signed on to a campaign by ForestEthics, committing themselves to reducing their reliance on fuel that comes from the terribly destructive Alberta oil sands. Sounds great, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want news of that to spread? The problem, however, is that it is mainly a PR stunt and won’t really do much to help the environment at all. See, Whole Foods has over 280 stores across America and ships foods from all over the world to those 280+ stores – and it’s pretty difficult to truly know where your oil is coming from for all those planes, boats, trucks, and energy sources. In fact, I would say it’s almost impossible. From an article at The Globe & Mail:
“Boycotting is a lot easier. It’s a lot cheaper and you get really good PR,” Mr. Knight said. “But you won’t solve the problem. You’ll bury the problem and hide it and probably make it worse.”
Whole Foods does a lot of things right…and a lot of things wrong. Their CEO, John Mackey, is kind of a whack-job. He doesn’t believe in climate change and doesn’t think we need healthcare reform – so much for being a progressive business owner. Their food is overpriced for the most part. But they do sell quality food, attempt to buy local, and I believe treat their employees pretty well from what I have heard. They are my only option for buying the type of food I buy here where I live, and for the foreseeable future they will continue to be my grocery store.
This “boycott”, however, smells much more like a Greenwash PR stunt than anything else given how their CEO views environmental issues. Come on, Whole Foods, we expect more from you – even with John Mackey at the helm.