Should Whole Foods “Close All Its Meat Counters”? (No.)

An open letter to James McWilliams and anyone who has signed or is considering signing the petition asking Whole Foods to “close all its meat counters”:

You say you care about the humane treatment of animals. Then why not spend your time going after the factory farms, or Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), that churn out cheap meat from diseased psuedo-animals by the ton-full to mainstream grocery stores and fast-food restaurants across the country?

Whole Foods is one of the few—if not only—large-scale places that offer alternatives to this. In many parts of the country, it is more affordable and/or accessible than going to local farms or farmers markets.

This may be harder for you to swallow than a tough piece of beef shank, but people will not stop eating meat (and not only because you are not actually asking them to). Please consider the potential ramifications of your proposal. If Whole Foods closes its meat counters, only one thing is for sure: Without the option of their alternatives, people will simply buy more questionably-sourced meat. Factory-farm production will actually increase. In German, there is an apt word for this: verschlimmbesserung (an intended improvement that makes things worse).

And if you think that there is no difference between factory-farm meat and the kinds that Whole Foods offers (inferred by your statement, “there is no such thing as ‘humane’ meat”), I have an assignment for you: Go to a factory farm (if you can; they are notoriously secretive about their operations, and it is discouraged if not downright illegal to visit or take photos or video in them). Then go to a sustainably-run livestock farm that is known for being transparent about its methods. Then tell me there is no difference.

Also, where’s the petition to ask Whole Foods to stop selling produce that may come from farms where migrant workers are essentially enslaved? Or to stop selling heavily processed and packaged foods made from profit-crazed monoculture (i.e. wheat/corn/soy) which wreak havoc on both our bodies and the earth?

Different bodies have different needs, and a more diverse approach to health is absolutely necessary. Not only should Whole Foods not close its meat counters, it should do more to promote the myriad ways of healthful eating and living. They are in a position to educate and help us to be kind to our bodies and the earth (they are not mutually exclusive), no matter what our dietary choices or needs.

Therefore, I propose an alternative to your reckless petition: The Healthy Paleo Coalition is asking Whole Foods to increase their Health Starts Here program’s currently vegan-based definition of “health” to include paleo and traditional diet choices (click here to sign their petition). It is not about limiting choices and promoting dogmatic practices, but rather about expanding awareness and promoting diversity and wellness.


Vanessa Query

(originally posted on Unchained Sunday)