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Pickles and Pickets:
From Ceremony to Controversy
Anthony Corso | Stratford Court

 

Whole Foods in the Flower Hill Promenade. Photo Anthony Corso

 

A five day grand opening of a new Whole Foods Market began on February 27 at the west end of the newly remodeled Flower Hill shopping center. But not without an evolving sense of controversy.

The store’s 30,000 square feet is somewhat smaller than most Whole Foods which are developed in the 50,000- square-foot range! However, the difference between this Whole Foods and its “sister stores” is more than “square feet”!

The store offers such features as a coffee and juice bar and hot food venues, as well as Trifecta Tavern, a casual bar and restaurant with wine and over 30 craft beers on tap. In addition, it advertises that within the store one finds an eclectic variety of products including:

• An extensive and varied produce section sourced from local farms;
• A full-line of high quality meat raised without antibiotics including grass-fed beef and chicken;
• Seafood described as “sustainably-sourced fresh seasonal seafood,” whole fish, sea urchin and abalone;
• An enormous variety of bulk and raw foods including local honey, olive oil, avocado oil, mushrooms and dates;
• A whole body section featuring some 125 personal care and nutritional products.
The store’s interior is designed to reflect the natural features of the Torrey pines, the hillsides and lagoons, the ocean, and man-made features such as the race track, fairgrounds and golf courses. It anchors the new “Flower Hill Promenade,” a complete refurbishment of the 1977 Flower Hill and currently incorporates seven new restaurants, six alternative retailers, a medical center, new landscaping and a 400 space parking structure.

 

Inside the Whole Foods Market. Photo Anthony Corso

 

The excitement and anticipation surrounding the opening was somewhat damped by the comments of John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, when he held an interview promoting his book, “Conscious Capitalism” arguing that corporations must have a higher purpose than just generating money. He had long been a critic of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and, in an interview with NPR, stated that he believes that Obamacare is “more like fascism.”

His comments during the interview generated a demonstrable backlash. Apparently those comments upset enough people that a nationwide “Boycott Whole Foods” group was born. They have a blog/website, picketing events scheduled, and a Facebook group that is growing daily by the thousands. The group is advocating that you spend your money elsewhere, and using the Facebook group to give members a place to band to together, resources for buying elsewhere, and opportunities to reach out to Whole Foods.

Mackey later told NPR that he was talking about fascism in economic terms, not as a system of repression under the Third Reich. Rather he maintains that under fascism the government controls all the means of production and that is what is happening with health care programs and reform. He admits that he made a poor word choice to describe the health care system, which he regrets. His main contention is that we need to avoid mandated health care and evade governmental regulations which dictate what health care plans can be offered. He doesn’t believe that his comments will hurt sales, that this is America.

Well, this is Del Mar.


 

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