Top | Sift
(article, James Berry)
The fireworks that began with [/user/home/1125 "Michael Pollan's"] analysis of Whole Foods in his book The Omnivore's Dilemma, and have been bursting since in a public exchange of blog entries between Pollan and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, will reach a presumed finale tonight in a sold-out "exchange of views" on the UC Berkeley campus. [%image pollan float=left width=120 caption="Michael Pollan"] Our guess is that the discussion will fizzle into an exchange of pleasantries and repeated assertion by Mackey that Whole Foods (a) was maligned to begin with, (b) has repented and reformed its ways, and (c) will endeavor to work even harder in the future. Excitement could come from new accusations by Pollan, or if Mackey announces major new local-food initiatives for Whole Foods, the giant retailer that recently announced plans to swallow its smaller competitor, Wild Oats. [%image mackey float=right width=120 caption="John Mackey"] Pollan's book raised charges that Whole Foods' record of sustainability is marred by its practice of shipping a large proportion of its goods long-distance around the world, and that, due to the scale at which it operates, Whole Foods doesn't support smaller local growers and producers. So while customers may be getting organic, their purchases have little net impact in support of sustainability. To catch up on the charges, counter charges, and rebuttals: # Start by reading The Omnivore's Dilemma (which is a must-read anyway). # Read John Mackey's Open Letter to Michael Pollan, and subsequent follow-ups on his blog. # Read Michael Pollan's responses on his website. A correspondent for Culinate will be at the event this evening, and we'll follow up with initial coverage tomorrow and further reflection next week. To join the fun, catch the live online webcast of the event tonight, starting at 7 p.m. PST. p(blue). Please be sure to see the [/read/sift/Arguing+the+same+point followup] to this article in which we discuss the actual event.