As I continue to write about language, politics, and ethics, I thought it would be useful to place statements all on one page, without comment. Eden Foods, Whole Foods, The Wedge Co-Op, Willy Street Co-op. I also have links to major reporting on the topic, especially from a year ago when their first suit was decided.
I will have a CNN piece on the topic this morning and will update the blog when it’s up.
Here are some good resources.
- Irin Carmon at Salon (and now MSNBC) was all over this topic, including this first piece and then an interview with CEO Potter.
- A recent piece from USA Today.
- The controversy comes to Whole Foods.
- A good overview of the post-Hobby Lobby situation from Grist
- Potter tells his local paper that Obama is a dictator.
Eden Foods is a principled food company. We were convinced that actions of the federal government were illegal, and so filed a formal objection. The recent Supreme Court decision confirms, at least in part, that we were correct. We realized in making our objection that it would give rise to grotesque mischaracterizations and fallacious arguments. We did not fully anticipate the degree of maliciousness and corruption that would visit us. Nevertheless, we believe we did what we should have.
The objection we filed has never been part of the Hobby Lobby lawsuit
“We really do appreciate everyone who has reached out to us to share their feelings about Eden Foods. When reviewing products for our shelves, our primary consideration is whether the product’s ingredients meet our Quality Standards. We recognize and respect that customers may have their own personal criteria for buying or not buying a product, and it’s every shoppers’ right to vote with their dollars on that basis. We hope that if people have feedback for Eden Foods, they share it with them directly.”
Thanks so much for sharing your views about the Eden Foods situation with the Wedge. We are aware of the recent news, and while we are disappointed by Eden Foods’ stand on this issue, the Wedge has a long-standing tradition (since our earliest days as a co-op) of not engaging in boycotts that are called for political reasons. Our membership includes a wide swath of political, religious and cultural viewpoints, and we leave decisions of this kind to our members.
As an organic foods co-op, we have our own set of values to consider; Eden Foods sources from North American organic farmers. Dropping their products would punish regional organic growers who have no part in Eden company decisions and would leave our co-op with nothing but Chinese-sourced organic beans, in direct opposition to our commitment to healthy regional farm economies and a domestic organic food shed.
Basing health insurance on employment is an altogether different conversation that needs to move forward. This most-recent situation is just one part of that larger discourse, which will get worked out in the courts and in the political arena. Until then, we encourage our members to make their own purchasing decisions based on the values they hold most important to them, and we will follow your lead.”
Willy Street Co-op:
A higher-than-average number of Owners have raised objections to the Co-op continuing to carry Eden Foods. The Owners who have already commented feel that the company’s legal action to avoid providing certain types of health care coverage for certain people may run contrary to our Food and Product Selection Philosophy.
On March 20, 2013, Eden Foods filed suit against the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) for the right to opt out of contraceptive coverage for its employees (Eden Foods, Inc v. Sylvia Burwell). Eden Foods objects to a provision of the Affordable Care Act requiring companies that offer employee health care to cover an array of contraceptive choices. Eden Foods is among roughly 70 companies objecting to contraceptive coverage on account of religious freedoms. The case has been reopened in court.
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby was a Supreme Court case decided on June 30, 2014. The plaintiffs were Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, who refused to pay on religious grounds for emergency contraceptive pills and intrauterine devices as part of their employee health care. Eden Foods was not a plaintiff in this case, however, in their Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court ordered the lower courts to reconsider their earlier decisions against Eden Foods.
Read Eden Foods’ statements pertaining to their HHS lawsuit and the impact of the Hobby Lobby lawsuit.
The Co-op appreciates Eden Foods’ frontline commitments to organic, natural, and sustainable foods and practices. Eden Foods has been an industry leader in maintaining organic standards and bringing BPA-free packaging to the U.S. market. The Co-op carries a lot of Eden Foods products (almost 100). Removing their product outright would significantly change our store inventory. Potential replacement products may cost more, and may not have as pure packaging. Some products may simply be no longer available to the Co-op.
However, our Co-op also strives to support a healthy, just, and tolerant food system in which workers are valued and compensated fairly across the board. Out of respect for the diverse values of our Owners and a commitment to transparency, we now bring the question of whether or not the Co-op should continue to carry Eden Foods products to the Ownership itself.
To address Owner concerns, the Co-op has initiated a 30 day Owner comment period on Eden Foods. At the end of the comment period, we will use this input to determine the status of their product. We are currently in the process of updating our Boycott Policy so that we will have a more structured process for Owners to initiate the comment period in the future.