Thursday, November 26, 1998
Whole Foods Supports Organic Growing
Over the past 10 years, the farming business I work for has started to farm organically on what was previously conventional ground. One of the biggest problems we have encountered has been the relatively limited market for such organic produce (crops that are grown with organic methods but cannot be certified organic because of the land history).
In this difficult organic marketplace, the Whole Foods Corporation has been by far our biggest customer. They are reputed to be the single biggest buyer of fresh organic produce in the United States. Their support has been vital and critical to our development of organic farming. Without their demand for organic produce, we and many other organic farmers would have far fewer outlets for organic products They have helped the organic market grow, as we observe their ability to buy more product over the years. In addition, they are one of very few organic produce buyers who occasionally will consider transitional produce.
While it is true that they have exacting quality standards that sometimes rule out produce because of defects in appearance, it is also true that unattractive fruits and vegetable, whether organic or conventional, simply do not sell. Despite the fact that Whole Foods will substitute with conventional if necessary (and some of our organic produce crops have failed to make the grade), the amount and variety of organic produce they do carry is huge.
Their neutral stance toward agricultural unions is a topic that merits a longer letter. I would like to point out briefly that they should be credited with not falling in lockstep with a particular political program simply because it is expected or demanded by their customers or certain influential groups.
The tone of your Nov. 12 article, while your reporter made some effort to interview both sides, struck me as clearly slanted against Whole Foods. This is very unfortunate. If there is any hope of increasing the supply and consumption of organic and natural foods, we need all kinds of players, from the small, independent natural foods stores to large corporations. And only with the participation of large grocery stores like Whole Foods is there a good possibility of introducing organic food to more citizens, thus giving interested farmers a chance to change from conventional to organic farming.
Granary Meant "Service"
In response to the Nov. 12 article, "The Whole Story," I offer the following:
I was a customer of the Granary Market from its early days. Fifteen years ago I developed a multi-level immune system and systematic fungal disease which left me without lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are the "PAC-men" of the immune system and thus I have no immunity. I must take care what I am exposed to.
Early visits to the Granary found me with nerves so damaged by fungal cells that I was slamming my shopping cart into the shelves, I had to stay tightly focused to keep my legs functioning, and after 45 minutes "in town" (I lived in Big Sur), I would find myself confused and lost on a street that I couldn't remember having seen before. I was not part of the world that everyone else was participating in. Fear inhabited every part of me.
During that 45 minutes, I had to make decisions about water filters, supplements for mental clarity, how to detoxify my liver and what in the world were free radicals.
The Granary Market employees educated me. Free material, published monthly by Nutrition News in Riverside, CA, afforded the most recent findings in research and biochemistry. The material was metamorphosed into understandable material to the layman. Much later I was pointed towards sophisticated books.
I began to read the giants in the healing field. With a cursory understanding of personal physiology, I began to take charge of myself.
What I saw at the Granary and what the mega-stores can never duplicate with their centralized philosophy was service. Todd Loomis would survey which juicers and water filters were best for the price and offer them at an affordable figure. He consistently honored seniors with a discount program based on that they/we bought. Education insured increased business. What a simple concept. His heart was large and his smile was wide.
I literally owe my life to the Granary employees, especially Todd, Blair and Patty. I feel blessed to have been ill at time when they were at the zenith of their "service to mankind" period.
I think that what was done there was good business. I see people buying organic produce or buying supplements because it is the "in" thing to do or because it was in the NY Times or on a radio ad. They do not give themselves the perfect gift of understanding why. And now there is no one to point the way for them.
Not Your Neighborhood Grocer
Thank you for the article about Whole Foods Market. I wasn't very surprised by their refusal to take a stand supportive of farm workers or their refusal to stock seafood caught in a way that doesn't drown endangered sea turtles.
In 1991, they opened a store in Berkeley on the former site of the coop supermarket and successfully defeated a union drive there.
Whole Foods is not your neighborhood health food store. They are the largest chain of natural foods supermarkets in the country and growing fast. They have the potential to become a working person's worst nightmare: Safeway without a union.
From the response received by my Public Forum on Halloween, I feel my Oct. 29 Public Forum was a complete success and I wish to thank Jon Albert, Jeffrey Kellogg, Brian L. Burleson, and David Fulmer for proving my original thesis that fear, ignorance and narrow-mindedness are attempting to destroy this important cultural and spiritual tradition.
Some points raised by these writers need to be challenged. Can Mr. Albert's inflammatory statement that "the sacrifice of children on Halloween became popular..." be documented? The same must be asked of Mr. Burleson who wrote that the Druids at Samhain burned humans alive in wicker cages--what is your source for such misinformation? The only written account from pre-Christian Celtic culture are by Romans who put out propaganda against the people who had sacked mighty Rome several times. Please remember that the Romans also wrote that Christians were cannibals.
Most ancient history scholars agree there is no real evidence that Celts performed human sacrifice. Both Judaism and Christianity are religions of animal and human sacrifice starting in the book of Genesis. The Christian mythos is based upon Jesus being sacrificed. And speaking of being burned alive--have we forgotten the good Christians of Europe who burned women, men, and children during the glorious work of the Church's Inquisition and "witch" hunts?
And, last but not least, Mr. Fulmer. You say you are trying to remove "all things pagan" from your family. By raising your children in restriction and sterility you are, in fact, performing you own human sacrifice. You have defined for them your version of evil.
Re: Fulmer's Forum
I sincerely hope that David Fulmer's statement that he has "tried to remove all things pagan" from his home (Public Forum, Nov. 12) will be carried through to its utmost. I trust this self-identified "born-again Christian" will refrain from putting up a Christmas tree, since this symbol has its roots (pun intended) in Druidic culture. In fact, displays of special indoor greenery during this specific holiday season stem (pun intended) from the seasonal celebrations of those noted pagans, the Romans. In addition, the birth date of Jesus as Dec. 25 was chosen because it coincided with a pagan feast day, and would aid the church in pagan conversions. The date was not fixed as a holy day in the Roman church calendar until the 5th century, A.D.
I just couldn't resist the needle (pun intended) as I have grown so tired of those with narrow vision pretending they are not narrow-minded.
I must comment on the recent coverage CSUMB has received. I found Peter Smith's article touting the greatness of CSUMB nothing short of laughable. Although I do appreciate all of the service learning that goes on here, the vision of being a technical university seems hard to swallow. I am a student at the university and having received my BA from somewhere else, I have some basis for comparison.
I have found this university to be the most unorganized institution I have ever had the frustrating demand of dealing with. I have found that the technical place it is said to be is daily laughed at by students and teachers alike. To provide an example, those of us in the Computers 101 class have yet to complete an exam successfully, as a whole, due to the fact that our school server crashes under the pressure of our little class being on it at the same time. The class only holds 19 people.
The library has its card catalog online but sometimes takes 30 minutes or longer to spit up the information, like a call number, although it has already told you that the book is indeed in the library. I have heard that it can only deal with 40 people at once. More than once I have found myself walking up and down the aisles looking for a book that I need. It seems better than waiting for 30 minutes to an hour for the call number.
Every day, I hear people talking about transferring so they can go to a school where learning is the priority and where people can get and give correct answers.
I do not doubt that in 30 years this university could be a very established and respected one, but I don't think there are many people who could say that about the organization, leadership and especially the technical capabilities of what we have sitting here now.
Corrections and Clarifications
A book-signing of Margaret Owings' Voices from the Sea that was slated for Dec. 4 and included in last week's CW has been cancelled.
Due to incorrect information supplied to our Nov. 10 public forum author, an incorrect number was published for the Free Burma Coalition. The correct number is 202/777-6009.
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