Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey has done a brilliant job of creating the illusion that his empire is all about abundance, bounty and the good life. But there’s nothing bountiful or good about the way the second-largest non-unionized food retailer exploits workers. Mackey has publicly likened unions to herpes. He told The Guardian that a union “ . . . doesn't kill you, but it's unpleasant and inconvenient, and it stops a lot of people from becoming your lover.”
United Natural Foods Incorporated (UNFI), the largest multi-billion dollar wholesale distributor of organic and “natural” foods in the U.S., is currently under investigation for 45 violations of federal labor law. The company recently fired striking workers at its Auburn, Wash., distribution center, and illegally hired non-union replacement workers.
Can we have a healthy and sustainable food system if the workers in that system are treated unfairly? We don’t think so. It’s time to pressure Whole Foods and UNFI, huge corporations with billions in profits, to stop paying lip service to workers’ rights. And start paying workers.
General Mills has been catching a lot of flak from consumers lately in the form of class action lawsuits for misleading claims and labels. And then there was that consumer backlash fiasco when the company asked its Facebook friends to say a few words about Cheerios. Boy did they. Complaints poured in about the GMOs in Cheerios. General Mills ended the conversation faster than you can say “toasted whole-grain goodness.”
Now it’s time for the company to hear from you. General Mills donated $1.2 million to Proposition 37, the California Right to Know ballot initiative to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs). You can tell the food giant exactly how you feel about that by boycotting its organic and natural brands, including Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm and Larabar. General Mills did the right thing in 2003, when the company broke ranks with Monsanto and sided with consumers to keep genetically modified wheat out of the marketplace. Let’s let them know that it’s time to support the consumer’s right to know again. And if they don’t? We’re all done with all of their brands, including the ones we love.
Last year, Iowa passed an Ag-Gag law making it a crime to conduct an undercover investigation of animal cruelty or environmental violations in the state’s factory farms. Now, the state is taking another swipe at citizens’ right to know with a bill that would eliminate the requirement that factory farms notify the public when they apply for Clean Water Permits.
Senate Study Bill 1005 removes the current requirement that factory farms place a public notice in local newspapers when they apply for a Clean Water Act permit. It also requires the hopelessly under-staffed Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to respond to permit applications within 90 days, or the permit is automatically approved! Who’s behind this latest attack on citizens’ right to know? None other than the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. It seems the DNR is hoping to skirt upcoming attempts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enforce the Clean Water Act.
Iowa operates more hog farms and more egg-laying operations than any other state in the U.S. These farms pollute the state’s waterways and cause monumental health problems for people unfortunate enough to live nearby. How do folks find out when a new Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) is coming to their town? Or an existing one is planning an expansion? Often, by reading the public notice in their newspaper. Unless, of course, Iowa lawmakers take that right away from their citizens, too.
Thanks to you, it’s been a great month. And it’s going to be an even greater year.
You’ve made our Traitor Brands boycott so successful that companies like Pepsi, Coca-Cola and others are signaling that they’ve had enough. This month, they secretly met with the FDA to say, "Look, we’re losing the public relations war. We’re done contributing millions to defeat mandatory GMO labeling laws. Let’s put these laws in place, just like they’re in place in 61 other countries where we’re already required to label – or remove – GMO ingredients." The OCA considers this a major victory for the GMO labeling fight. Because history tells us that when Big Food breaks with Big Biotech, consumers win. But this is not just our victory, it’s yours, too. We couldn’t have done it without your time, your signatures, your energy and your dollars.
We’re also making fast headway on our campaign to educate the public about the devastating impact on our air, our water, our health and the welfare of animals caused by law-avoiding, reckless and inhumane factory farms - or as the industry prefers to call them, Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). Our story last week about corporations writing state laws to prevent undercover investigations at factory farms was published on numerous websites and reached over a million readers. Our previous article about why we need labels on factory-farmed meat, eggs and dairy also traveled far and wide on the Internet. It evoked thousands of responses from people who realize that once folks know the truth about CAFOs, and once we require truth and transparency in labeling, we’re on our way to a healthier, kinder, more sustainable society.
We love doing this work. And we know that it wouldn’t be possible without you. So, thank you. And please keep us going with your generous donations.
The OCA has signed on to The Food Chain Workers Alliance letter to Rep. George Miller, asking him to re-introduce the Fair Minimum Wage Act. Will you sign on, too?
Over six million workers in the food system earn the federal minimum wage – just $7.25/hr. Because their wages are so low, food workers use food stamps at 1.5 times the rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce and face food insecurity, or the inability to afford to eat as defined by the USDA, at 1.2 times the rate of all other workers. The three largest low-wage employers in the U.S.? Walmart, Yum! Brands (owner of Pizza Hut and Taco Bell) and McDonald's. Shame on them.
To make things even more exciting, with a club or trial membership you can order a variety of beautiful Grass Fed Meats, Organic Dairy, Vegan alternatives and your favorite organic frozen meals and foods. This week only you can get 1lb of Grass Fed Ground Beef or a Vegan Celebration Roast added FREE on your $35 frozen order when you enter the coupon code: GRASSFED or CELEBRATION. Coupon expires Feb. 6, 2013.