Not long ago, Whole Foods was hailed as a harbinger of the responsible food movement—selling high-quality groceries, ethically raised meats, and organic produce to home shoppers across state and national lines.
But recently, the chain has come under fire for a host of wrongdoings, whether real or perceived: that they sell threatened seafood; that they unreasonably inflate prices; that they don’t do enough to encourage local foods; that they make false claims in pursuit of their “healthy” or “environmentally friendly” brand.
And now, the CEO of Whole Foods Britain is acknowledging that the items lining store shelves may not be as healthy as the company seal of approval might suggest. “We sell a bunch of junk,” proclaimed John Mackey, in an unusually candid evaluation of his own stores.
What did he mean? That Whole Foods, lapsing on its commitment to healthy living, has allowed sugar-laden, fat-soaked, highly processed products into its temple of nutrition.
“We have always had two philosophies,” he said, as printed in the London Times
. “One is the foodie philosophy, that food is primarily about indulgence, about pleasure. The other part is that food is primarily to nourish us... Whole Foods has always had a synthesis of those two, but over a period of time, one or the other has tended to triumph.”
By instituting cooking demonstrations and making an effort to promote healthier options—literally, the "whole foods" of Whole Foods—Mackey hopes that he can effect a positive change in the diets of his customers. Without, one hopes, entirely compromising the "foodie philosophy."