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An Open Letter to John Mackey and the Board of Whole Foods Market

Dori Digenti

September 25, 2009

To:  John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Inc. The Board of Directors of Whole Foods Market, Inc.

Fr:  Former loyal customer of Whole Foods Market, Inc

Re: How Whole Foods Could Regain My Business

Dear Mr. Mackey and the Board,

I am a boycotter of your organization. My personal decision to boycott your store is based on multiple factors, and your position on health care reform was merely the catalyst for this decision.

For many years, I faithfully visited your Hadley, MA store to purchase grocery and health & beauty items; but above that, I came to your store because I believed in "enlightened capitalism." I have held the notion for many years that good products can be sold at a profit not only without harm, but in the nexus of mutually beneficial exchange. Is this notion not at the basis of the traditional community bazaar: where village members came to exchange value for value, share community news and information, and promote the common weal? I was willing to believe that Whole Foods was truly dedicated to these beliefs; that it shared in the values of community, health, and progress.

Many who are more knowledgeable and articulate than me have given point by point responses to the WSJ op-ed; I can't say it any better. Neither am I interested in looking backwards (President Obama's wisdom there). So, let's look forward: what would your organization need to do to regain my business? Let me outline some suggestions:

  • Unions: Allow open meetings with union reps to which all non-management employees would be invited and could attend free from any threat of retaliation. No management involvement in these union-to-worker information sessions. Once they have taken place, let the workers democratically (by majority rule) decide whether they should be unionized, and then accept that decision whichever way it goes and work with it equitably.
  • Health Care In America: You as CEO and your Board agree to an extended Board meeting to which you invite persons to speak who have been victimized or excluded from the current health care system in America. These would be listening sessions that would hopefully result in a deeper and more personal understanding of why the term "health care crisis" exists in this country.
  • Working Families and Whole Foods Marketing: You establish a designated area in each Whole Foods store where you deliver on the promise of affordable, healthy meals for working families. This area would need to include, yes, grains, pasta, beans, etc., but also fresh "colorful" fruits and vegetables from local organic sources that are affordable on a limited income. Given Whole Foods' volume buying power, I believe this would be possible for some selected seasonal products.

I am very open to hearing any response to these suggestions. In my heart, I still want to believe that Whole Foods can both make a profit and serve the betterment of US society as "enlightened capitalists."

Thank you for listening.

Dori Digenti

Dori Digenti lives in Amherst, MA.

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