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Groups Protest Whole Foods, UNFI at Natural Products Expo

(Boston, MA) - Today the Teamsters, Jobs with Justice and Organic Consumers Association protested against Whole Foods and its leading supplier United Natural Foods, Inc. at the "Natural Products Expo East" trade show at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The groups worked to highlight Whole Food's hypocrisy as the company who supports sustainability is publicly opposing President Obama's health insurance reform. According to its website, Natural Products Expo East is the largest natural, organic and healthy products trade show on the East Coast with up to 25,000 attendees and professionals in the industry.

Attendees at the expo were greeted by members from the three groups who distributed informational leaflets as an aerial banner attached to a plane overhead read, "Whole Foods Don't Bash Obama."  Later that evening, the Teamsters interrupted the expo's award ceremony to provide Whole Foods with the "Mean-Spirited Award," a parody of the expo's annual "Spirit of Organic Award."

In a controversial Wall Street Journal op-ed, Whole Foods' CEO attacked President Obama's efforts to reform America's ailing health care system. The op-ed states that Americans have no intrinsic right to health care and should not feel entitled to equal medical attention.  It further states that health care should be an individual responsibility with little or no help from the government.

"Health care and negligent health care providers are a major concern for American families," said Sean O'Brien, President of Teamsters Local 25. "We live in a society where big business and greedy insurance industries take advantage of American workers and consumers. This is a national crisis that requires reform and government intervention."

"We are here to represent Massachusetts residents who shop at Whole Foods and are dismayed with the company for opposing a public health care system," said Russ Davis, Executive Director of Massachusetts Jobs with Justice. "We stand with the Teamsters and Organic Consumers Association to ask Whole Foods to support health care reform, increased sales of certified organic products from small, local producers, and the application of domestic fair trade that allows workers to form collective bargaining unions."

On top of Whole Foods opinion on health care, the company is receiving criticism from the three organizations for selling food and products that are greenwashed and labeled "natural" instead of being certified organic.

"Whole Foods needs to sell a lot more certified organic products rather than conventional items greenwashed as 'natural',"said Ronnie Cummins, OCA Director. "The company brands itself as one that is working towards a sustainable future, but sustainability cannot exist without the preservation of the public's health through a reformed health insurance initiative, the promotion of workers' rights including their right to unionize, and the advancement of certified organic food."