The Taste of Tomorrow

Back in July, The Taste of Tomorrow, called for a boycott of Whole Foods in 2018. Well, we are now revising our boycott to RIGHT NOW— yes, October 2013. Put back that lamb sausage, kashi & organic milk — head to the exit. Go elsewhere or abstain. You can come back to Whole Foods on Nov. 1.

Why are we boycotting our favorite major grocer until the end of October?

It’s because of this awfulness that arrived in our email box last (see image above). Here’s the advert text:

Celebrate Non-GMO Week with the 2-Day Non-GMO Sale!!

October is non-GMO Month and We are Celebrating!

If GMO’s are a no-go on your grocery list, stop in 10/25 – 10/28 for a sale on hundreds of Non-GMO Verified products.


It was upsetting to hear last March that Whole Foods was going to add an overly simplistic this-is-GMO, this-is-not label to all its products by 2018 —see our earlier post — but this is more depressing. This is, in our view, a line crosser.

You see, with the TWO-DAY SALE, Whole Foods is not just advocating the right to know about whether foods are bioengineered, now they’re actively ENTICING people to go non-GMO. Yes, consumer, if you’ve never really seriously considered going GMO-free today, give it a try now!

From a business standpoint, there’s nothing particularly unusual about the Two-Day Non-GMO Sale. There’s a market out there —people who want GMO-free living. And Whole Foods is using a classic marketing technique– the good old reliable negative claim that is straight out of the grocer’s playbook.

But this is not Safeway or Jewel or Kroger or Sainsbury or Tesco. This is Whole Foods, a trusted brand on environmental responsibility and healthy eating. Millions look to Whole Foods for guidance on earth friendly food decisions. Whole Foods can shape minds.

Let’s say the Two-Day Sale to Celebrate (yes, celebrate!) Non GMO Month sale is a spectacular success. Let’s say that some curious customer gets hooked. In fact, let’s say the whole Whole Foods audience goes GMO-free, and then the country goes GMO-free, and then Africa and Asia go absolutely GMO-free (If GMOs aren’t good enough for Whole Foods customers, why us?) And then we humans just ditch it – no more bioengineering. Just organic and conventional ag. Then what happens?

More harmful chemicals will be used in agriculture, more forests will be destroyed, more GHGs will be emitted, more farmers will get sick from chemicals used in ag, more children will die of malnutrition, more algal blooms will happen because of agricultural runoff.

In short, going proactively negative on ag biotech is in direct conflict with among the holiest parts of the Whole Foods Declaration of Interdependence:

We Practice and Advance Environmental Stewardship

We see the necessity of active environmental stewardship so that the earth continues to flourish for generations to come. We seek to balance our needs with the needs of the rest of the planet through the following actions:

  • Supporting sustainable agriculture. We are committed to greater production of organically and bio-dynamically grown foods in order to reduce pesticide use and promote soil conservation

Now, there’s only two days left in non-GMO Month. But …. inspired by the growing movement of anti-anti GMO activism —the TofT hereby urges, Whole Foods customers, who care about sustainability and who favor science over superstition, to do the following:

1. Skip Whole Foods for the next 48 hours. You can get your lamb sausage and soy milk after Halloween.

2. Email John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO: Read Tomorrow’s Table. Tell Mackey that Whole Foods had done so much good on so many issues — supporting ecologically responsible small farmers, providing information on seafood sourcing, green buildings, water conservation, introducing more kelp-derived products to American consumers— BUT demonizing GE is not consistent with your mission.  Biotech can support sustainability  — here’s a short checklist from Kent Bradford of UC-Davis. Tell Mackey that we know you’ve been lobbied incessantly by the Organic Consumers Association, Dr. Mercola, Jeffrey Smith, and the Magic Soap guy, but urge him to think, first, about the health of the planet, not the needs of the organic industry.  Then tell him to read Pam Ronald and Raoul Adamchak’s Tomorrow’s Table asap. Why Tomorrow’s Table? It’s a book, co-authored by an organic farmer and a genetic engineer, about how organic methods and biotech seed development should not be viewed as enemies.  Ronald and Adamchak offer a vision, we believe, Whole Foods will soon embrace — one that sees organic farming practices AND GE seed as potential allies in ecologically responsible agricultural practices.  More than anything, we hope that Whole Foods’ view of genetic engineering will become more nuanced. GE crops aren’t good or bad.  They’re sometimes GOOD and sometimes BAD.  As Pamela Ronald wrote in The Economist, each new GE variety will need to be tested on a case-by case basis in light of the criteria for a sustainable agricultural system.

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