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Boycott the Whole Foods Boycott

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has put his foot in his mouth-this time about health care-but does a boycott make sense? Who knew that people who...


Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has put his foot in his mouth-this time about health care-but does a boycott make sense?Who knew that people who hunt for tofu pups and organic edamame in the aisles of Whole Foods Market don't respond well to op-eds quoting former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on the problem with socialism ("eventually you run out of other people's money")? Especially when the writer, Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey, suggests that health care is just a commodity.On August 12, Mackey argued very publicly in the Wall Street Journal op-ed pages that health care is not a right. "While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?" he said. "Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges."Mackey made the case against deeper government involvement and for more personal responsibility-including those kinds of personal lifestyle choices that motivate shopping in the aisles of a Whole Foods store. His philosophy seemed to go to the root of the "counter-cuisine," the idea that changing one's diet and one's buying habits might change the world.Despite the measured tone of Makey's article, some of the store's customers saw his stance as a bad case of brand dissonance-his views clashed with their conception of what the natural foods chain represents. They called Mackey an apostate and called for a boycott. "Whole Foods has built its brand with the dollars of deceived progressives," says the "Boycott Whole Foods" group on Facebook, which has, at the moment, over 28,000 members. (By comparison, Whole Foods Market has 121,000 fans).Whole Foods apologized and tried to clarify that the op-ed reflected only Mackey's opinions and not the official stance of the company. Not that the chain has to worry too much. One customer told The New York Times: "I'm just going to have to stop buying. But they have good meat, that's the problem, and good fish."Last week's editorial was hardly the first time Mackey has put his foot in his mouth. In 2005, he attacked rival Wild Oats under an anonymous online alias "Rahodeb"-possibly to lower its stock prices before Whole Foods moved to buy the rival natural foods chain. And he has made a name for himself by taking risks: the first Whole Foods stores sold coffee, beer, wine, and meat-in violation of some health food purists' ideals of crunchy Austin co-ops.But Whole Foods Market is still in a class of its own when it comes to promoting ideas about corporate sustainability. The real threat to meaningful health care reform has more to do with insurance companies, who are less concerned with "conscious capitalism" and are arguably harder to boycott. Whole Foods has built itself on image and its "pander[ing] to... customers' political prejudges" and Mackey should have been more careful with his brand. But the boycott movement feels like a distracting sideshow in the debate over the U.S. health care system.
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Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

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"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

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"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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