Sheila Payne stands outside Whole Foods Market on a sweltering day. People hurry in and out of the store, eager to escape the heat, but Payne hasn't come to shop. She and three other activists are informing customers that the nation's largest chain of natural food groceries has refused to sign a pledge supporting better wages and working conditions for California strawberry pickers.
Going after the UFW: When activists were passing out literature outside Whole Foods market about the UFW grape boycott, Whole Foods called the cops on them and had them arrested. Embarrassed by the public outcry, Whole Foods promised to honor the boycott and stop selling non-union California table grapes. Whole Foods later broke its promise when they moved their store a couple of blocks away, saying the agreement applied only to the old store.
Whole Foods attacks environmentalists: Whole Foods has taken a similar hard-line stance against environmentalists working to protect sea turtles. An estimated 150,000 endangered turtles drown in shrimp nets each year, according to the Earth Island Institute, a San Francisco-based organization that led the campaign for dolphin-safe tuna. But when the group approached Whole Foods to request the chain carry only shrimp caught in nets certified to protect sea turtles, chief executive officer John Mackey once again sided with industry and blasted the activists. "We will not be coerced by Earth Island Institute or anyone else to support advocacy programs against our will," Mackey e-mailed the group. "Your attacks on Whole Foods Market are strategic mistakes." Earth Island has responded by picketing Whole Foods stores in California, Texas and Delaware. "I thought this would be right up their alley," says Todd Steiner, who directs the sea turtle program. "They claim to be really progressive, but their seafood counters are a big part of their profit margin. They've determined that this won't help their bottom line -- and their bottom line is more important to them than doing the right thing for the environment."
The entire article can be found here at the Organic Consumers Association.