Whole Foods Provides Libertarian Environmental Solution

The Austin American-Statesman calls it “going all green on electricity”, but Whole Foods is going libertarian orange, too. From the article:

The company is buying enough wind power credits to cover energy use at all of its U.S. stores, bakeries, distribution centers, regional offices and its Austin headquarters.

The deal makes Whole Foods the biggest corporate user of wind power in the country.

With their purchase of megawatts, megakudos are due to libertarian CEO John Mackey and his crew. As an owner of several businesses in several geographical locations over the years, I’ve never had the opportunity to choose my supplier of electricity. I’m writing from north Alabama right now, where we are powered by TVA. To be able to bust the monopolies Q@$%!#RGQ##!!#G246arg,k5haw4f.fna2a2n most power companies hold would be a dream come true for me. Sorry about the funny characters in the preceding sentence. They aren’t masked curse words, but merely static from one of the ubiquitous power outages we endure here in TVA land.

While the deal may not be immediately financially profitable, they are certain to win from the PR angle, as the article explains:

“Right now, the main benefit is public relations,” said Andrew Aulisi, senior associate at the nonprofit World Resources Institute. “For a company like Whole Foods, which has a particular kind of clientele, I can imagine this is an important way they relate to their customers.”

Unlike slapping solar panels on a roof, buying green power credits does not mean that wind-generated electricity will power all Whole Foods’ stores. Rather, the amount spent on the credits will pump more wind energy into the electric grid overall, reducing the amount of coal and natural gas used nationally.

“It’s as if a city has been rendered green powered because of this (purchase) by Whole Foods,” said Kurt Johnson, Green Power Partnership director at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

I don’t think I’ve never formally met Mackey, although we’ve probably attended some of the same events when I was working out of Austin. His face is all too familiar and we have some mutual friends in the city. I followed the growth of Whole Foods for years before I was in Austin, though. They are an interesting company, all libertarian angles KL:*&jlk*()&bKl (sorry, another government power company glitch) aside. I don’t follow them for stock purchase reasons or because I’m a frequent (I’m one of those certified Black Angus rare steak eaters, but they do have some good complimentary wines) shopper. However, as a consumer and an amateur gourmet chef, I know where to buy the good stuff when entertaining. I can also sniff out a real life sound business plan — which is preferable to the garbage many companies put out custom-tailored for stock analysts and investment bankers. My anecdotal example provides that I know many progressive and libertarian friends who love to shop there. I’ve also consumed alcohol with some of their execs and admin staff, who state that it is a great company for which to work. For the best statistical example, simply look at their market position for their product line.

If you are on this website, the overwhelming odds (I check our stats a lot) are that you are libertarian, progressive or a true conservative. Most conservatives I know don’t care so much for health foods, but I’d suggest checking them out as their inventory is truly great and you can tell the power cartel where to go with your purchase. This should be a no-brainer for progressives, with the obvious health food and environmental angles at play. Libertarians should take special notice, though. We can promote our own merit-based business which tells corporate America where to stick it while simultaneously promoting a free-market environmental solution. They seem to be taking a financial risk on the issue, and we can help defray the cost by shopping at Whole Foods.

I’m not being paid a dime for this article, their primary product line is not my mainstay, and they don’t have a convenient location unless I am on the road. This said, I’ll be making some purchases from Whole Foods on my next travel in a couple of weeks. Store locations can be found here.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Jane Galt notes a hint of irony in the marketing campaign:

“It’s a sales driver rather than a cost,” he said. “All of those things we do related to our core values: help drive sales, help convince a customer to drive past three or four other supermarkets on the way to Whole Foods.

Wouldn’t all those extra miles driven negate any environmental value of using wind power? Just askin’, is all.

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. I don’t shop Whole Foods, for the simple reason that Whole Foods is one of the #1 lobbyists for the cause of banning genetically modified foods and the irradiation of food–both of which are extraordinarily safe technologies and help to improve the efficiency of agriculture.

  2. I suppose with anything like this, you have to start somewhere and a brand like Whole Foods signing on bears attention. But even though, as this piece points out, “their inventory is truly great…” from a personal financial standpoint, I can do better, price wise, elsewhere for the same stuff (Coffee for instance… give me a break!!). I just don’t know how many have the personal resources to spend more than they need to “tell the power cartel where to go…” by purchasing there. For those that have the money as well as the inclination to participate in the endeavor to change things like the power industry, spending at WF does sound like a way.

  3. This is a chain that built itself on the patronage of “hippies” and the counterculture but is now trying to upgrade its image while still spouting 60s ideals at its website. Customers with bare feet are regularly turned away from its locations throughout the country. Big deal? I say, a symptom of big hypocracy.

  4. Alex,

    I was not aware of the lobby activities. Got a link?


    The bare feet may have to do with local ordinances and not the target audience. I know that I don’t wish to shop in an enclosed grocery where I’m worried about catching foot fungus.

  5. I bought some damn tasty chicken sausages from Whole Foods the other day. Kudos to them for choosing the voluntary way.

    As far as their campaigns against irradiation, etc., they’re appealing to their customer base. Until there is a massive science education campaign in this country, ignorance, fear, and superstition will hold sway.

    Yours truly,

    …mmm, sausages…