Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Eden Foods - Voting with Dollars in a Rigged Game

Eden Foods Beans for Sale,
Whole Foods, Ogden Road, LaGrange IL 7/18/14
Eden Foods is on sale at Whole Foods stores across the country (often quite a bit cheaper than in Illinois. Thanks to everyone who sent pictures). Let me be clear - I am not accusing Whole Foods of a conspiracy here. I have talked to their spokesman who assures me that Eden Foods is part of a national yearly calendar sales promotion for July 2014, a calendar set well in advance.

I post this picture not to accuse, but to remind us all of the forces that are arrayed against us as we work to 1) stop corporate person-hood, 2) ensure equal access to contraceptive care for all, 3) stop the war on women, 4) fight for the separation of church and state.

I believe, I hope you believe, that personally held religious beliefs, especially but not exclusively ones that are medically wrong (Hobby Lobby's position in abortifacients), should not bring with it the power to discriminate against others. Moreover, I see the current law as benefiting conservative Christian religious principles only. For me, the fighting back takes place at the ballot box AND the checkout line, and my target is Eden Foods.

I've talked about this before. Eden Foods relies on a demographic that heavily skews liberals. If we simply stop buying their products, they will either go out of business or change their policy. This is on our turf. We can win this. And we are.

Last week I told you about Central Co-op in Seattle and their open letter to Eden Foods, revealing that about 80% of their products from the company were no longer selling, that consumers were voting with their dollars, so the coop was discontinuing products. I spoke to a spokeswoman at Central who said it amounted to about a $40,000 loss of sales a year for Eden Foods. One step at a time.

Here's the problem, though, with the voting with dollars construction that Whole Foods has used in their statements, and that lots of other stores are using as well. Someone has to count the votes. Central Coop did so, publicized the results, and we should be grateful to them. Who is counting at Whole Foods? Moreover, with this nationwide sale going on, isn't the game a little bit rigged, albeit unintentionally?

But Whole Foods has never really been my target, at least not yet. I think we win this fight in the locally-owned and operated co-ops across the country.

What I need you to do is to go to your store and ask about Eden Foods. When they reply something about "voting with dollars," ask them how soon they will count those votes, how closely they will track Eden Foods sales, when they will make a decision, and then publicize the damning information about Eden Foods, contraception, and CEO Potter.

Some stores have just stopped carrying the products (Weaver Street in North Carolina, for example). We need to publicize those. But where I really want to focus efforts is on the stores that haven't decided yet.
What is your co-op doing? If you vote with your dollars, will anyone count the votes and publicize the results? That's how we win.

And I can tell you this - Eden Foods is worried. They are so worried that they released a statement which failed to mention contraception at all. Follow the bouncing ball.
Prior to the Affordable Care Act, prescription drugs were an opt-in opt-out feature of health insurance plans Eden Foods offered its employees. Lifestyle drugs, as named and managed by the insurance industry, were excluded, such as viagra. Today, 34% of Eden Foods employees select prescription coverage for their plan, while 66% do not choose prescription drug coverage.
Since the inception of the Affordable Care Act all employees have all coverages required by the act, even those who do not want it.
1. Prescription drugs were an opt-in/out feature. Ok, fair enough.

2. Lifestyle drugs like viagra were not covered. This actually means contraception. They know they are on losing ground when they talk about birth control, though, so instead shift to viagra. Sneaky.

3. Today it's a 34/66 split. Except since the ACA, all employees have drug coverage. Which is it? Is it all employees or a 34/66 split? (I think the latter, since they have SCOTUS on Hobby Lobby as precedent now. I've emailed for confirmation).

4. "We are grateful for our silent supporters sending us messages directly, avoiding abuse that may befall them on social media." - As one of my friends said on Facebook, this is basically an argument that "all the lurkers in the thread are on our side."

The online response to Eden Foods, your responses to Eden Foods, has been overwhelmingly negative All the company can do is claim a silent majority, claim that they have private emails, claim that their customer-base is strong. 

In the end, Eden Foods has to rely on ignorance, apathy, and a nicely-timed national sales event to ride out this wave of bad publicity. They have to hope that when a store encourages you to vote with your dollars, that no one will count the votes. And so keep talking, writing, sharing pieces on the issue, and, most of all, pushing your local stores to pay attention. 

Thank you.

1 comment:

col said...

Another way this rigs the game is that shoppers with more money will have greater influence. I know that co-ops are increasingly getting more corporate, but it still seems scuzzy to me since they're also supposed to take into account workers' rights. About a month ago I was at Seward Co-Op in Minneapolis, and you could only get bananas in sealed bags because at that time there weren't any other fair trade bananas available. It's so sad to me how the environmental and animal rights movements can be so dismissive toward women (and I say this as somebody involved in both!).