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Whole Foods Market and Animal Rights Groups Team Up

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Well-known member
Feb 10, 2005
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Most of us who buy food don't deal directly with the farmer. There are exceptions, of course, like farmer markets and roadside stands, but they are minor players. Farm Bureau, other industry organizations and the Department of Agriculture are active in consumer education, but a lot of what consumers know about their food supply comes to them at the point of purchase, from retailers.

According to Food Marketing Institute, an association of food retailers and wholesalers, the industry is enjoying robust growth in target market-focused stores aimed at specific markets. These markets include gourmet, Hispanic and natural/organic foods.

The largest natural and organics food retailer is Whole Foods Market. The company has 167 stores in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. Its latest earnings report was stellar. Fourth quarter sales and net income increased around 25 percent and the company boosted its quarterly dividend. New store development is up by 50 percent over a year ago.

Whole Foods also recently was named the "Best Animal-Friendly Retailer." Ironically, this honor was bestowed in part because of its wide array of vegetarian and vegan foods. The distinction also came from an unusual source, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). PETA is a radical animal rights group that is opposed to animal agriculture. "Meat is murder" is one of its slogans, which seems inconsistent with Whole Foods, where the meat counters are well stocked.

On Jan. 25, Whole Foods collected 5 percent of its global sales revenue to establish the Animal Compassion Foundation. The goal of the foundation is to "assist and inspire ranchers and meat producers around the world to achieve a higher standard of animal welfare excellence."

Guess who is going to help develop the standards for raising livestock?

"These enhanced standards are to be completed by 2008 for every species sold by the company and are being developed jointly by Whole Foods Market and animal welfare advocacy groups," according to an Animal Compassion Foundation news release. PETA is one of the groups named. Another is Viva! USA.

Viva! USA carried on a two-year campaign against Whole Foods that ended with a moratorium. "Viva! was instrumental in helping Whole Foods Market leadership come to understand the importance and necessity of making changes to animal production methods," said CEO and co-founder John Mackey in a Viva! news release. "I believe a vegan lifestyle is the most animal compassionate lifestyle possible," he added.

It looks like part of your grocery dollar spent at Whole Foods could be funneled through the Animal Compassion Foundation to animal rights groups for their activities. While we didn't find any PETA or Viva! propaganda at a Whole Foods outlet recently, that could change too, or perhaps it will appear under the Animal Compassion Foundation letterhead.

The mandate of the Animal Compassion Foundation is to work with farmers and ranchers on animal husbandry practices. There's nothing wrong with that, except when radical groups with a far different agenda are behind it.

PS How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you're on. :oops:

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