blameBarbara H. Peterson

Farm Wars

It seems that everyone jumped on the bandwagon recently to target Whole Foods and blame it for everything from promoting GMOs to lying about them in its products. People have said that the company was taken over by Monsanto, and cannot be trusted to provide customers who enter the store with safe, non-GMO food.

Previously, Whole Foods was lauded by the very same people who turned against it:

“My overall view of Whole Foods? Two thumbs up. Way up. This store rocks” (Mike Adams, 2007).

The tide started changing from support of Whole Foods to rabidly against it in 2009, then escalated in 2011 with the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) taking aim and firing a salvo at the company due to its stance on coexistence with GMOs, as if there could actually be such a thing.

The problem was, Whole Foods said out loud what just about every grocery store, supermarket, and big box health food store is really doing – selling GMOs disguised as “healthy” food.  You can do it, just don’t talk about it. If you get too honest about your intentions, consider yourself slapped. Hard.

And the accusations started compounding, finally reaching a peak during the Prop. 37 California GMO labeling campaign last year, when the company failed to fund it. Why? Well, it seems that the stores “do not contribute to political campaigns or ballot initiatives as a company policy.

Interestingly enough, in 2009, Whole Foods verified its private label line with the Non-GMO Project:

Whole Foods private label line, 365 Everyday Value, has been GMO-free for years, it says, and since 2009, it’s been verified through the Non-GMO Project, which analyzes food for the presence of GMOs.

The Whole Foods private label line is non-GMO. And it sells other products that contain GMOs, just not with the company’s label on them. But it is not alone in this “coexistence” quagmire. Trader Joe’s does the same.  There is also the issue of Silk and Tom’s of Maine, which just happen to be currently endorsed and/or sponsor some of the same people who condemned Whole Foods. Is Whole Foods really the pariah it was made out to be?

The question of why this attack was orchestrated on the company was never asked, and quite frankly, I really don’t think anyone cared. This was a chance to jump on a giant and pound the living daylights out of it while making oneself look good. Whole Foods quickly became reviled amongst the people who once lauded it.

Now, the company has publicly announced that it will require labeling of GMOs in all products it sells in its stores by 2018.

“Grocery giant Whole Foods Market will require all foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) sold in its U.S. and Canadian stores to be labeled as such by 2018. This puts the company in the position of being the first grocery chain in the United States to set a deadline for GMO labeling.”

That’s a big undertaking, and something that not one of the other guys has gone out on a limb to do. You know, the guys who publicly derided the company for doing what they do themselves, which is to support GMOs by supporting products sold by companies that support GMOs and other toxic substances. These are the same people who then turned an about face with this 2018 labeling announcement and now stand in support of Whole Foods and its efforts.

I applaud you. You forced the giant to clean up its act. Now clean up your own.

But then again, maybe this is all a coordinated marketing plan. Maybe they are all working together in a huge “good cop, bad cop” routine designed to increase market share for all involved, with increasing and decreasing waves of treachery and back-biting orchestrated in a manner that would make the most jaded public relations professional proud.

The following information is crucial to know in order to understand that what is going on is not what it appears to be:

1) Natural News, the Organic Consumer’s Association, and The Institute for Responsible Technology all support the Green Polkadot Box.

The Box sells, among other things, Tom’s of Maine toothpaste.  Tom’s is owned by Colgate-Palmolive, who sells fluoridated toothpaste and promotes drinking plenty of “fluoridated” water, which is actually laced with the Ampicillin no prescription that comes from Cargill’s fertilizer stacks that is dumped into the water and somehow becomes “good for us” when we ingest it, as well as GMO dog food and aluminum-filled antiperspirant in its list of chemicals we can most certainly live without.

 colgate palmolive

2) Silk is listed as a sponsor of the Institute for Responsible Technology’s (IRT) non-GMO shopping guide site.

 Shopping guide

Silk is owned by White Wave, a division of Dean Foods:

To meet the demands of a diverse group of consumers across the U.S., Dean Foods oversees two operating divisions: Fresh Dairy Direct and WhiteWave-Alpro. The WhiteWave-Alpro segment consists of the operations of The WhiteWave Foods Company (NYSE:WWAV) which became a publicly traded company in 2012.

Dean Foods’ White Wave is partnered with Land O’ Lakes. Land O’ Lakes owns Forage Genetics, which partnered with Monsanto to bring about GMO alfalfa:

 Land O Lakes

“To produce its Round-Up Ready Alfalfa seeds, Monsanto partnered with a company called Forage Genetics International, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O’Lakes dairy co-op. That’s right, Land O’Lakes stands to make a fortune from polluting our food supply with untested and unlabeled GMOs.”

Generic premarin online

Oops! Oh, and by the way, Natural News and the OCA did call for a boycott of Silk. I guess that the IRT didn’t get the email. Must have landed in the spam folder.

3) And how about Trader Joe’s…

Trader Joe’s private label does not contain GMOs. Trader Joe’s also sells products containing GMOs, like Whole Foods, and has no intentions of stopping. I don’t see anyone attacking them. Mike Adams of Natural News says “Stick with grocery stores like Trader Joes and your local farmers markets.

Trader Joe’s sells about 4,000 SKUs, and about 80% of the stock bears the Trader Joe’s brand. The result: Its stores sell an estimated $1,750 in merchandise per square foot, more than double Whole Foods’.

Trader Joe’s is owned by the same people who own a supermarket empire.

Few customers realize the chain is owned by Germany’s ultra-private Albrecht family, the people behind the Aldi Nord supermarket empire.

“When Kart and Theo Albrecht split the company to form Aldi Nord (North) and Aldi Süd (South) in 1960, they also split their global ambitions. Today there are about 4981 stores that belong to Aldi North and 4504 stores that belong to Aldi South. In addition there are about 367 Trader Joe’s that belong to Aldi North.”

The privately held company’s sales last year were roughly $8 billion, the same size as Whole Foods.

Hmmmmm…. Trader Joe’s is at least as big as Whole Foods, and I don’t see any mention of non-GMO at the Aldi site, Trader Joe’s big sister company, do you? Here’s a link:

And the difference is???

So, what’s the difference between these companies and Whole Foods? I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me, because I sure can’t tell the difference, except for the fact that Whole Foods has taken a stand to force labeling of GMOs on all its products by 2018. I don’t see the other guys doing that, do you?

I’m inclined to think that it’s all a big game, with us paying the price while leading organizations play this good cop, bad cop routine and rake in the dough. Some good comes of it, but no matter how much good you do, if you are sponsored by the bad guys, then at some point in time, you sell out. The questions are – how, when, and where. We already know why… money, money, money, money… MONEY!

Coexistence with GMOs is not possible. If you think so, you are deluding yourself. If you think that any anti-GMO organization that supports companies that support GMOs is really on your side and will fight tooth and nail to make sure your food is free of GMOs, I’ve got some ocean-front property in Arizona that I’d like to get rid of… cheap… and I’ll even throw the Golden Gate Bridge in for free.

©2013 Barbara H. Peterson

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18 Responses to “Whole Foods and the GMO Blame Game”

  1. Barbara Talbert says:

    We are fiddling with the sources of life when we fiddle with GMO’s. More and more people know it if they have done research on the internet. Whole Foods knows it as does Trader Joe’s. Europeans who have banned GMO’s know it. Many people know it instinctively without doing the research. Skewed science is not the be-all and end-all for the human race and helps no-one.
    Please, please read “GM Antibiotic Resistance in China’s Rivers” by Dr. Eva Sirinathsinghi before someone tries to bury it.
    When all the rivers are polluted with antibiotic resistant bacteria we will have super “Superbugs” to look forward to. Our antibiotics will be useless. Interestingly the companies that tout GMO’s and chemical control of crops will be hurt by their very creations.

  2. Paramenides says:

    The way to deal with sellers, such as Trader Joe’s, is to become an informed consumer. That means knowing what food products, such as most containing Soy, Corn, and Canola likely contain GMOs and avoid them. It would be nice if all sellers were ethical and not complacent, or fearful, but recognize that they are no doubt under pressure behind the scenes to not eschew products with GMO ingredients. Monsanto’s minions are busy working through their subsidiaries, the FDA and USDA, in order to force acceptance of their filth. It is like the old Mafia “Protection Racket” – either pay up or “accidents” will happen. And don’t kid yourself that is how they work.

  3. I talked with someone at Trader Joe’s. She would not allow me to quote her, and referred me to the PR department, but the gist of the conversation, paraphrased, was this:

    Question: “Do you sell brands with GMOs?”

    Answer: “Yes, we do.” She listed the brands.

    Question: “Will you be getting rid of your GMO brands anytime in the near future?”

    Answer: “No. We want the customers to have a choice. We won’t get rid of them unless demand goes down.”

    In other words, they want the customer to be able to choose between non-GMO and something unlabeled that might possibly be GMO, but you don’t really know because it is not labeled.

    If people simply stop buying the crap, Trader Joe’s will concede to that and stop carrying it because they will stop making money selling it, not because it is the right thing to do.

    No wonder she didn’t want me to quote her….

  4. Abe says:

    Tyranny brings up a good point! I see that the government agency incharge of setting organic standards is trying to redefine the deffinition of Organic. Even though they already ignore the standard that was set! I would assume this is in violation of the law. But the government wouldn’t violate the laws of the land would they?? They’re all whores!

  5. Abe says:

    It seems to me that those charts of all the so called “Healthy Food Stores” has been out for a couple years. The mega food outfits have been buying them up left and right. People are feeling really betrayed by the food octopus that seems to lead us to the Monsanto and gangs head. As people start to realize that all the health problems are do to what there eating, they’ll start to attack there poisoned food sources. Whole Foods was the first to fall to pressure, and certainly wont be the last. I believe the 5 years is a little slow though. I suspect that’s a wait and see attitude. It also could be because they need to line up pure foods for the future. Pretty much over 90% of anything in a box has GMO’s in it. Maybe Trader Joes will be next. The fact is it’s almost impossible to find pure food anymore.
    A few years back I talked with a couple cattle ranchers, and the problem they had with there herds. Once they figured out GMO’s were the cause of there herds problems, they went to real feed.
    But due to the scarcity of real feed, they still have to mix some GMO’s into the real feed. I can’t recall what the mix is, but at least the herds seem to be able to reproduce with out all the still borns and defects. Farmers are starting to see that all the promises made by Monsanto and gang are bald faced lies.
    I read something the other day By Dr. Huber and a farmer that had 1000 acres of seed potatoes in Minnesota. His crop was a total loss due to carryover from the “Round-Up Ready soy he planted the year before. This is one of Monsanto’s claims is “NO CARRYOVER”! Think this farmer was mad? You betcha he was as mad as a wet hornet!
    Thanks to people like Barb and others tireously connecting the dots, people and farmers are waking up in droves. Everyone is figuring out what a scam the EPA, USDA, FDA, CDC, and the other alphabit agencies are! They’re not there to protect “We the People” but “Them The To Big To Fails”!
    Keep up the outstanding work Barb!!

  6. Helen says:

    Thank you Barbara for your honest assessment because most people like me who will rejoice at any company going totally non-gmo will only have one perspective. I have heard Ben & Jerry’s announce they will be sourcing non-gmo ingredients in their products. Maybe this will catch on; let’s hope so.

  7. Tyranny says:

    Always excellent and eye opening perspective Barb. That’s why I love Farm Wars. Something IS up. Five years! Seems much too long. I think you are on to them. The last paragraph sums it up well. From the Cornucopia Institute, “Think you’re avoiding synthetic ingredients like sodium benzoate and polysorbate 80 by choosing organic? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.” Five years may be just enough time for even the term “organic” to be completely meaningless.

  8. Tina says:

    Some years ago, the Utne Reader had an article that said Trader Joe’s would not say where they got their organic vegetables.

    Also, remember to buy something ONLY if it says ‘100% organic’, or at least ‘organic’ (which means it’s at least 70% organic).

    The word ‘natural’ means nothing.

  9. Jerry Alexander says:

    If these GMO lovers have children,we must call in the Child Protection Agency NOW! Even Rand Paul voted in favor of Not Labeling Foods that contain GMO`S.
    As far as Whole Foods goes,has anyone ask that chef from New Orleans BAM!!! about this?

  10. Lawrence A, Oshanek says:

    Paramenides / In “the way of opinion,” you pretentiously offer what your namesake described in his incomplete prose as “conceptions which are false and deceitful”, while I offered in “the way of truth” that “what-is”. Now “what-is”, is that Adams voluntarily associated himself with the bombastic blow-hard Jones by regularly appearing on the Alex Jones Show. In my view, both parties exhibit varying degrees of hurbis and say much about most everything in the way of exaggeration.

    History will record their trustworthness but I prefer an ambitious huckster and snake oil salesman never really know the size of my purse and I can assure you, I never pay much attention to what Mr. Adams puts out without ALWAYS looking for the source.

    That said, Ms. Barbara Peterson wrote an well researched article identifying some inconsistencies in real peoples positions, hidden corporate machinations disguising true ownership and control of companies and how co-operative misinformation can be used to mislead the buying public with respect to the intent of the merchant …

    Is she dishonest too?

  11. George Tirebiter says:

    The really amazing thing about Whole Foods is that the average shopper at Whole Foods doesn’t seem to have a clue that the company is named Whole Foods while very little of what they sell is actually whole foods.
    As usual, the important question to ask concerning their GMO labeling statement is ‘Cui Bono?’.
    At this point in the life cycle of Whole Foods, their main focus is on cash flow needs (to meet current expenses and service existing debt requirements)and meeting ‘Street’ profit projections (to maintain attractive stock value).
    The GMO ‘issue’ is just a side show to their overall business goals.
    They realize that the public has a short attention span and that by putting 2018 as the date for compliance with GMO labeling, that a lot will happen between now and then to shift the public attention away from this issue.
    By making a demand that food companies label GMO ingredients in their products, Whole Foods is actually serving the interests of the Agribusiness and food conglomerate companies, by legitimizing the existence of GMO ingredients in food products instead of pushing to ban GMO ingredients altogether.
    Regardless of the marketing spin put out by Whole Foods, there have got to be many of their employees and management that already understand that they retail many different food products that are detrimental to the health of their customers.
    What we are witnessing is that the ‘natural’ food industry is systematically becoming what it originally was an alternative to.
    The best approach was stated by a commenter above: Caveat Emptor!

  12. Susan says:

    Unlike Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s was meeting with activists in the early 90’s to address consumer concerns. Knowing vendors for Trader Joe’s markets at this time and sharing a kitchen space in the Warner Center with Trader Joe’s vendors when they were asked to make the change to non GMO inputs or risk losing their contracts forced them to comply. I was one of these activists involved, as a member of GEFree at Occidental College, and also a member to OCA through contributions and catering events. I was also miffed when OCA started aggravating chef Alice Waters. As a food service professional in an urban area, we do our best to bring healthier choices to our customers. At this point avoiding GMO foods and making a living is equally as trying as being a farmer due to economic controls and subsidies only available to corporations producing foods void of REAL nutrition. We have a government of corporate sponsored nonleadership.

    You commented:

    “The question of why this attack was orchestrated on the company was never asked, and quite frankly, I really don’t think anyone cared.”

    I care, the reason many of us in the real food community saw this as a threat is that local systems can be bought out by a corporate conglomerate and then decimated in a very short amount of time. Leaving local security of food at the corporations behest. Leaving small farms impossible to survive on as a career option, so much that at this point in our food system their IS NO security and farming is no longer even listed as a career. The new corporate hands off approach to farming is agribusiness. We desperately need more hands, it is the only way we can rebuild our economy and health of our country.

  13. prometheus says:

    the difference between trader joes and whole foods is that whole foods proudly procliams..”nothing artifical, ever’ and stands on its self proclaimed ladder of ‘organics’ and ‘healthy foods and eating’ but still has asiles full of ‘chips’, soda, cookies, ice cream….even thier prepared foods dept is not organic…that might be a surprise to some……whole foods has and does do alot for having healthier versions of junk food on thier shelves but that said…they are still beholden to the corporate giants..just like whole foods has become a corporate giant itself. if one wants organics and local products..your best bet is still to go to the local co-op

  14. nedlud says:

    A long, long, long time ago, I recognized that everything ‘modern’ is about promoting and pushing sales. It made me sick.

    Now, I do not dislike Alex Jones as much as some of you and I do not like Mike Adams as much as some of you. But they too, are about sales and marketing. Fat bank accounts and early lucrative retirement. Truth is just a shiny coin to them.

    Only the poor and the crippled and the beaten down and the dying face and know the real truth of the poverty and blasphemy and horror of our modern system of business and corporation and accounting.

    And when we’re all poor then we’ll all know.


  15. Carolyn Bailey says:

    Can’t take anything at face value anymore… Like Lawrence, I also read Mike Adams, Alex Jones et al with a sharp eye between the lines, just as I read any mainstream media. Barbara, you always stand out for honesty and sincerity as well as factual accuracy!

  16. Paramenides says:

    I love the “guilt by association” disinformation i.e., blackening Mike Adams by associating him with Alex Jones. Very naughty and very dishonest.

    Mike Adams may fall short of perfect (name someone who does meet “perfect”) but he does put out volumes of good reliable information. As for hawking products – well the man has to make a living.

    I do agree with the misgivings on Trader Joe’s despite doing a lot of shopping there. Bottom line is still Caveat Emptor.

    The other bottom line is that we, as the purchasers of products, need to vote with our dollars and not purchase any known hazardous products e.g., anything GMO, laced with Aspartame/Nutra Death, MSG, fluoride, etc., …. The reality is that the food chain is loaded with toxic additives and so the safest route is to buy local, buy organic, and READ the labels and learn what they mean. A good rule of thumb while you are learning what means what is that if a product has more than 1 or 2 ingredients that have names you cannot pronounce then don’t buy it.

  17. doug girard says:

    Hey, that ocean-front property in Arizona sounds pretty nice about now. Define cheap.

  18. Lawrence A. Oshanek says:

    I am happy you finally caught on to “little Alex Jones”, Mike Adams. I ran across him about 3 years ago and I recoiled over his hubris and exaggeration .. and I noticed his becoming much more aggressive in selling products … to be trust … occasionally, yes. But keep your eyes wide open and fact check yourself.

    Good job Barbara.