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Starting a comment period about carrying Eden Foods products

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Monica Davis, Bri...
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FYI to owner/members: I've written a couple of respectful emails to Eden Foods over the last couple weeks outlining my objections to Mr. Potter's policies and public comments. Eden Foods doesn't bother to respond to consumer emails regarding this issue. Eden Foods is ignoring respectful and well reasoned comments and arguments against its policies. So, everyone whom is putting forward arguments here that we should cut Eden Foods some slack and tread carefully ought to know that Eden Foods will not engage the public in anykind of intelligent discussion of Mr. Potter's legal or personal ideology.

Elizabeth Wrigley...
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Thank you for taking the time to write to them.

Carl Zimm
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The COOP should not carry any Eden foods products. We should take this action as soon as possible, and make sure the action is well publicized.

We should have nothing to do with a corporation that wants to abuse its employees in the manner that Eden Foods has done. 

Judith Skog, Kenn...
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Thanks you for the opportunity to weigh in on this.  It is a very sticky problem.  On the one hand Eden Foods is imposing it religious beliefs on its employees and the public.  On the other hand, Eden Foods has done a lot of things right in the organic realm (as has been mentioned already).

This move should be taken in conjunction with other coops, for the maximum bang for our buck.  Willie St Coop is big enough to have a lot of clout in the coop realm, but it would be good to have others on board.  And Eden Foods might be more likely to notice, and maybe make some changes.

In the world of share-holder activism, the goal is to threaten to take an issue to vote at a share-holders meeting, with the hope that it will prompt the company to engage in dialogue/change.  Perhaps we can do the same.

I am 55% to 45% in favor of boycotting them.

Kirsten Moore
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Thanks, Judith. I just wanted to let you and other Owners commenting know that if, after the comment period, the Co-op were to pull Eden products and formally boycott the product, we do not have plans to organize a boycott with other co-ops. That is not to say that other co-ops would not engage in a simmilar process with their Owners, however, we plan to keep focused strictly on our Owner's commentary. 

Kasey Phifer Byrn...
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I hope that collectively we decide to boycott Eden Foods. My partner and I vote to drop Eden Foods. 

A consumers’ co-operative firm, such as Willy Street Cooperative, is structurally different from a capitalist firm. Owners are first and foremost community members, not proprietors who reap a profit on the labor of others (However, we could treat our co-op's workers better, but that's a different rant for a different time). Secondly, owners are stakeholders before consumers. We collectively determine the trajectory of our co-operative. We don't do so through our dollars, but through our collective power. How many farmers do we support in the US and the Global South (via Equal Exchange, etc.)? A "vote with your dollars" plan wouldn't make this possible. Indeed, this would completely destroy the point of a consumers' co-operative. We are shaping economic and social development.

 

So, I want to note that this debate is about social development. This debate is about how we want to be involved in the reproduction of gender, sexual, and economic relations. Do we want to reproduce these relations or do we want to transform them? By voting to drop Eden Foods, we are voting against the reproduction of these oppressive relations. 

 

We must address this. 

 

We need to institutionalize justice, not just shop for justice. We must institutionalize our commitment to justice, for without doing so the subjectivities, caprices, and desires of everyday life will render such temporary, unnoticeable, and inconsequential.

 

 

Sarah Busse, Reed...
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I vote drop Eden. Bring them back when they change their stance on birth control for their employees. I shop at Willy because I trust the food and product lines are not only healthy and sustainable on my table, but ethical and just for their workers as well. 

Daniel Olivares
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Please do not boycott Eden Organics. 

Carl Sack
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Please boycott Eden Foods. Health care is a human right, and carrying those suppliers who discriminate (or seek to discriminate) women in employment benefits and practices should be an absolute non-starter.

Suzy Grindrod, Ed...
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I wonder how the CEO of Eden foods feels about government overreach (or religious beliefs for that matter) when it comes to pesky things like OSHA rules and sprinkler systems. After all, aren't slipped discs and lightning strikes acts of god that government shouldn't be involved in regulating?

Margy Lambert
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It saddens me that Eden Foods would take such an awful position against women. In the past, Eden Foods has taken some courageous stands such as being pro-GMO labeling. Bottom line: I urge Willy St. to boycott Eden Foods. Their behaviour is just unacceptable!

Steve Rankin, Jud...
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I will not be buying Eden Foods products. I would like the coop to provide thorough information (including the fact that Mr Potter is on record as saying he has no particular religious belief against contraception or the funding of contraception by insurance. His belief is a political one, which he identifies as "government overreach".) He is welcome to object to the federal government and to federal regulations. We are welcome to cease buying his products. I hope that owners, when provided with sufficient information, will choose to stop buying his products, and that the coop will cease to provide them due to lack of a market. Further, I would like to see the coop actively work toward eliminating that market, by immediately providing alternatives to all Eden Foods products and by relegating Eden products to poorer shelf allocations (smaller facings, away from eye level).  - Steve

Erin Boyle, Stace...
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I would definitely like the coop to boycott all Eden Foods products.

Aaron Bakken, Sar...
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Seems Eden Food's CEO hasn't been able to actually pinpoint which part of his religious principals this contraceptive coverage actually conflicts with. Sounds like it's as much a small minded religious issue as it is just being cheap. Meanwhile, Hobby Lobby (and I wouldn't be surprised if Eden Foods does too) will still cover Viagra/Cialis and vascectomies. The hypocracy is amazing.

I for one will never buy an Eden Foods product moving forward. As a Co-Op that I'm quite sure employs a number of women and LGBT citizens, it seems anethma to Willy Street's business charter to support vendors that discriminate so openly. I realize it will take time to find replacement products, and that they may cost more. But I have not, and I would imagine a lot of my co-owner/members do as well, chosen to shop at the Co-Op because it has cheap prices. I shop there for the quality products, dignified wages these products pay for and the environmental stewardship that's implied through the selection offered.

So, I say screw Eden Foods and the close mindedness/intolerance they represent.

Kirsten Moore
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Thanks, Aaron. Since you brought up the issue of Viagra coverage, here's what Eden Foods' says about their healthcare coverage objections:

"Eden employee benefits include health, dental, vision, life, and a fifty percent 401k match. The benefits have not funded "lifestyle drugs," an insurance industry drug classification that includes contraceptives, Viagra, smoking cessation, weight-loss, infertility, impotency, etc."

http://www.edenfoods.com/articles/view.php?articles_id=219

Ann Schroeder
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Please stop carrying Eden Foods

I have already decided to personally boycott Eden Foods products (along with Hobby Lobby stores).  I would like it if Willy Street no longer carried Eden's products.  The assault on the ability of women to have access to and make their own healthcare choices is just too offensive.  This topic is so upsetting to me I'm not even sure I can make a coherent argument.  Many others have done a fine job here.  I just wanted to register my comment.  Thanks.

Josh Walling, Ron...
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This is Randi (not Josh).  And don't ask me why my name is spelled phonetically in my co-op membership -- I have no idea!

I have read everyone else's comments and thought about this long and hard. Eden is a forward-thinking company in many ways, and I don't think we should make the decision to boycott them lightly.  But the attacks on the reproductive rights of women are not something to be taken lightly either.  If Eden had decided that they didn't want to have their health coverage pay for cancer drugs because cancer is God's will, I doubt the Supreme Court would have agreed.  There is an effort in this country to to limit the welfare and freedom of women, though their arguments are cloaked in talk of freedom and opposing government mandates. By filing their lawsuit, Eden has decided to be part of that effort. Employers shouldn't be able to claim that they are morally obligated to NOT pay for important aspects of women's sexual health care and then turn around and willingly pay for men's sexual health care (such as Viagra).  That is why I think the co-op should boycott Eden.  I strongly doubt that boycotts like ours could put Eden in any financial jeopardy.  At best we will make a small dent in their profits.  But perhaps by boycotting, we will make them think about what they are doing and who it hurts.

Josh Walling, Ron...
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This is Randi (not Josh).  And don't ask me why my name is spelled phonetically in my co-op membership -- I have no idea!

I have read everyone else's comments and thought about this long and hard. Eden is a forward-thinking company in many ways, and I don't think we should make the decision to boycott them lightly.  But the attacks on the reproductive rights of women are not something to be taken lightly either.  If Eden had decided that they didn't want to have their health coverage pay for cancer drugs because cancer is God's will, I doubt the Supreme Court would have agreed.  There is an effort in this country to to limit the welfare and freedom of women, though their arguments are cloaked in talk of freedom and opposing government mandates. By filing their lawsuit, Eden has decided to be part of that effort. Employers shouldn't be able to claim that they are morally obligated to NOT pay for important aspects of women's sexual health care and then turn around and willingly pay for men's sexual health care (such as Viagra).  That is why I think the co-op should boycott Eden.  I strongly doubt that boycotts like ours could put Eden in any financial jeopardy.  At best we will make a small dent in their profits.  But perhaps by boycotting, we will make them think about what they are doing and who it hurts.

Josh Walling, Ron...
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This is Randi (not Josh).  And don't ask me why my name is spelled phonetically in my co-op membership -- I have no idea!

I have read everyone else's comments and thought about this long and hard. Eden is a forward-thinking company in many ways, and I don't think we should make the decision to boycott them lightly.  But the attacks on the reproductive rights of women are not something to be taken lightly either.  If Eden had decided that they didn't want to have their health coverage pay for cancer drugs because cancer is God's will, I doubt the Supreme Court would have agreed.  There is an effort in this country to to limit the welfare and freedom of women, though their arguments are cloaked in talk of freedom and opposing government mandates. By filing their lawsuit, Eden has decided to be part of that effort. Employers should not be able to claim that they are morally obligated to NOT pay for important aspects of women's sexual health care but to willingly pay for all aspects of men's sexual health care.  That is why I think the co-op should boycott Eden.  I strongly doubt that boycotts like ours could put Eden in any financial jeopardy.  At best we will make a small dent in their profits.  But perhaps by boycotting, we will make them think about what they are doing and who it hurts.

Eric Wehrheim
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I can't support a company that with one hand is trying to force the government to take a larger role in regulation of food and with the other is calling a contraception mandate an “unconstitutional government overreach” and compare birth control to 'Jack Daniels'. Seems Potter is only interested in Potter and I'm not interested in giving him $$ to further his agenda.

Eric Schoville, M...
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I've already made the decision to personnaly boycot Eden Foods, because their policies conflict with my personal beliefs, in this case denying access to birth control.  The Eden Foods products that I used to buy were canned beans and tomatoes, which I've replaced with other brands.  I support boycotting this company unless they change their policy vis a vis birth control.  However, based on Micheal Potter's, CEO of Eden Foods, comments in other interviews, I am unlikely to buy their products again.

Eric

P.S. My belief is that health care should be universal and not tied to employment whatsoever, which would make this a non-issue, but unfortunately I don't see our country heading in this direction.

Joseph Kollar, Ca...
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I strongly support a Co-op boycott of Eden Foods. Though some may be using this for political purposes, this is fundamentally not a "political" issue. Eden Foods is singling out women workers and denying them access to basic reproductive health care. This fails to meet the Co-op's Food and Product Selection Philosophy standard, "Commitment to a food system in which farmers, workers, and producers are valued and compensated fairly at each step of the supply chain."

Re: the idea of donating a surcharge from Eden products to Planned Parenthood, such a tactic would not have the same impact on the company's actions as would an actual boycott. The company would still be making a profit -- and possibly an even greater profit, as many shoppers might seek out Eden products in order to participate in the donations to PP. 

Bottom line: I respectfully encourage the Willy Street Co-op to no longer sell Eden Foods products, as long as their discriminatory practices are still in place.

Monica Davis, Bri...
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We support a WSGC boycott of Eden products. Eden has crossed the line and sets and example that no one in the organic foods community should tolerate.

Monica Davis, Bri...
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We support a WSGC boycott of Eden products. Eden has crossed the line and sets and example that no one in the organic foods community should tolerate.

Michael Billeaux,...
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I strongly urge that the Co-op boycott Eden Foods for its anti-worker, anti-women policy for as long as it takes the company to reverse that policy. Eden Foods argues that they will not cover "lifestyle drugs," an unacceptable designation for comprehensive access to reproductive health products and services. They argue that they "believe in a woman's right to decide," but choose a policy of restricing that right in practice. If owners respect the principle of "free range" for animals, they owe the same to employees. Boycott Eden Foods.

Elizabeth Wrigley...
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This is now one of the most important workers' rights and women's rights issues in the country. Frankly, I don't understand the point of having a progressive co-op if it does not boycott in cases like this.

Dave Wilcox, Tom ...
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As an owner, I'd suggest the co-op consider suspemnding further orders (so as not to get stuck with inventory that is no longer desired) and then monitor how sales continue.  When stock runs out, post a card at the shelf that briefly explains the out-of-stock reason, and suggest a brief visit to the service desk to simply register interest in re-ordering.  In other words, let this be a market experiment.  If there really is a boycott, I don't want the co-op stuck with product it can't sell.  If there really isn't much support for a boycott, we'll know when owners and other customers express their opinions about restocking.  Yes, this will mean a little more work for the service desk, but a simple clip board tally should suffice.  Those who want to comment more can be directed to this or another comment page.

Kathy Humiston, M...
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I keep thinking I've said my piece, but there are so many sides to this issue...

There was mention that Eden's policy is basically a reduction in employee benefits, but health care should not be an employment benefit in the first place--health care is considered a HUMAN RIGHT in most countries, but in the US it is considered a for-profit industry. And, yes, people pay taxes toward their health care in other countries, but we also expect to pay taxes to fund education, law enforcement, infrastructure, etc. Many of us do not have the luxury of employer-provided health care--maybe our employer is exempt because of size, or we do not work enough hours to qualify--this is what is inherently wrong. We are then driven to the health care marketplace--and good luck! There is little there that is "affordable" and coverage is not mandated for basic needs such as vision benefits, dental care for adults, home health care or support for end-of-life choices. While the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, I am grateful that it exists, but I also view it as an evolving piece of legislation. I think we would better serve society as whole if we put our energies into working toward improved legislation rather than boycotting and jeopardizing one of the few independent, trustworthy organic food companies still around.

This may seem off-topic, but it is a piece of the whole to be considered.

Norm Littlejohn
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I’m in favor of the Willy Street Co-op doing three things about Eden Foods: 1) let Eden know that we’re having this discussion, and that it might lead to the Co-op no longer carrying their products; 2) communicate with other Co-ops to let them know the same and see how (or whether) they’re dealing with this issue; 3) drop all Eden products from the Co-op’s shelves if a majority of owner/members who comment have called for that in the comment period, and if Eden doesn’t change its policy.

I favor the boycott of Eden Foods, and I think the Willy Street Co-op should drop all Eden products; if and when Eden changes its policy, the Co-op should consider getting those products back on its shelves. If a boycott is intended to change the behavior of a company, then a change in that behavior should have some impact on the boycott.

 One essential aspect that’s mostly been missing from this discussion is that the employer doesn’t “own” the health insurance provided to the employees; it’s part of the compensation to the employees. Wouldn’t we be pretty concerned if an employer asserted the right to determine how an employee can spend her wages? We’d be pretty clear, immediately, that the employer has no right whatsoever to dictate that, so why is there confusion about the employer trying to dictate the employee’s use of insurance paid for by the employer? It’s part of the pay package, and decisions about using it should be 100% up to the employee. The employer’s religious freedom isn’t a factor, any more than it is if the employee donates part of her wages to a church other than the employer’s.

The Co-op should draw a clear line here.

Kirsten Moore
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Hi Norm (I'm on staff),

I wanted to provide an update that Eden Foods is aware of our comment process, and that other co-ops are aware of our process. As we are all different and meet the needs of different Owner bases, the reaction varies depending on the co-op. Some co-ops are preparing to offer simmilar comment formats for their Owners. Many are adopting language and talking points to address why they will continue to keep Eden Foods on their shelves. Some are recommending that their Owners continue to vote with their dollars (we suggest that Owners do that in addition to commenting as well). Some are forwarding all Owner commentary directly to Eden Foods. Some co-ops have not actually received any Owner commentary at all.

Timothy Ruddy, Ja...
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Tim Ruddy here.. (Jaime's view may differ) Staff person and owner.

 My initial knee jerk reaction is easy.  Dump Eden Foods.  Personally,  I object to a for profit business in the US denying women elements of healthcare based on religious beliefs. Seems simple…   

However, the very religious morality that steer Eden away from contraception coverage, have most likely helped motivate them to become a pioneer in Organic foods. They were fighting GMOs in the early 90s, and have provided BPA free cans since 99. In an industry rapidly being bought out by corporate giants, Eden remains private. They have been, and look like they will continue to be, a huge ally in one of the co-op's most important missions. 

To me they are still doing more far right than wrong, and I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater just yet.

I propose a compromise. The co-op continue to carry Eden products, but raise prices on all of their products by $0.10  each for as long as Eden continues to not offer contraceptive coverage, donating that “tax” from each sale to Planned Parenthood.  

I think this is superior to just dropping the products as it actively creates a positive out of a negative. I also think it has the possibility of creating far more beneficial PR than just simply dropping them. Imagine if the idea spread. Edens choice to not provide contraception coverage to a few employees, could end up financing the same coverage for hundreds or thousands… 

That said, I wonder if this (or any boycott of Eden based on this issue) doesn't fall well outside our boycott policy.   These are turbulent waters we are dipping our toes in.

Thank you to everyone who has posted,  and for keeping it so civil and intelligent!

Kathy Humiston, M...
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Tim, you've articulated some of my points far more clearly than I--thank you.  I like the idea of a "surcharge" that be donated to Planned Parenthood as a means of opposition. It could even be donated to the PP clinics located near Eden's facilities so that it had a more direct connection.

WSGC has always avoided becoming enmeshed in politics--this is a political issue and yes, maybe it is outside the parameters of the boycott policy.

Elizabeth Wrigley...
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My opinion: None of us are the ones who made it political. Eden's owner made it political when he decided that his personal feelings about contraception were more important than his female workers' right to make their own decisions about their health care, and sued the government over it. The question for the rest of us is whether the way he is using his company for political action is consistent with what we want the Co-op's values to be.

Kirsten Moore
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It is true, the management interpreted the boycott policy loosely due to the high volume of comments we were receiving about one particular brand. We have been looking at the boycott policy for awhile now, and we're narrowing in on some ways that we would like to change it so that a higher threshold of Owners petitioning could create a comment period, rather the boycotts organized by other organizations sparking the discussion. So often Owners will ask why we carry a product and we will give an answer. That's probably not going to change for the majority of concerns, however, when a large volume of Owners ask about the same brand and the same issue, it would be healthier to have a format for the Owners to have that discussion. When a lot of people came forward with concerns about Eden Foods, we thought this was a chance to see how that format might work.  

I agree with Tim, we have an impressively thoughtful and polite Ownership here, and this discussion is allowing that to show.

Mike Mcshane, Ali...
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I urge Willy Street Co-op NOT to boycott Eden Foods.

I also urge you to provide the "minority" side a fair consideration. According to Eden Foods' President Michael Potter: "This lawsuit does not block, or intend to block, anyone's access to health care or reproductive management. This lawsuit is about protecting religious freedom and stopping the government from forcing citizens to violate their conscience."

Does anyone else see the colossal irony in this? We shop at Willy Street for natural, organic products from corporations with a conscience. Yet, there is virulent opposition against Eden Foods' actions because they are asserting conscience (abeit unpopular) by their refusal to pay for artifical birth control. Their action is in line with the products they produce.

Do not replace Eden Food products with Muir Glen. Eden Foods is an independent company. Muir Glen is owned by General Mills.

David Deavers, Ca...
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No this is about corporations thrusting their beliefs on their employees. It has gone so far now, that corporations now have the right to dictate health care choices to their employee.  This is why we need to take this stand with our only vote left, our purchasing power. I rather have the Devil i Know (Muir Glen/General Mils) , then the Devil in Sheeps clothing, Eden Foods......

Suzy Grindrod, Ed...
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Suzy here. What is "artificial birth control"? They have no business dictating this, it has nothing to do with the food they produce. 

Elizabeth Wrigley...
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"Artificial birth control"?! I'll make my own decisions about my contraception in consultation with my doctor, thanks, and I would like for Eden's employees to be able to do the same.

Kirsten Moore
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All sides will receive fair consideration, and sales will also receive fair consideration. We appreciate all input.

In the interest of transparency, we would not be replacing Eden Foods with Muir Glen. We carry Muir Glen currently.

Kathy Humiston, M...
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Agree absolutely Mike!

Clara Burke
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Whether or not the Coop boycotts Eden, I’d like to see the Coop focus its efforts on long-term education about food. The Coop actually carries a number of brands that have violated worker and human rights. For example, Honest Tea is owned by the Coca Cola company, which has been sued several times by labor organizations for violently repressing labor unions in Central and South America.

Education is the answer here (education and a concerted effort on the Coop’s part to find better sources). Honest Tea, for example, doesn't have the words "Coca Cola" anywhere on the bottle; the same goes for a number of corporate-owned “natural” brands. Clearly, we can’t boycott all of these brands, and if we think globally (of how workers outside the US, who may not have any health coverage, are treated) it's hard to say whether Eden’s reprehensible stance on healthcare for women is worse than actions taken by Nestle, Unilever, General Mills, or any of the other big ag companies whose products are found at the Coop.

Please use this opportunity to return to the Coop’s roots and help owners make “informed choices about food, agricultural practices, environmentally sound practices." Let owners know where our food is coming from: post a big chart showing who owns what brands carried by the Coop, post signs that identify independent food sellers, and so on. If you need help getting this info out to owners, ask the owners for ideas. Any store can boycott a brand when it winds up in the news, but the Coop could--and should--do more than that.

Wayde Lawler, Tar...
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Couldn't have said it better, Clara. It is all too easy to assauge one's conscience with a knee-jerk reaction (like a boycott) to one particular company's admittedly reprehensible policies on one particular issue while ignoring the host of products the Co-op carries from other companies with equally reprehensible policies. If we were to vet every company whose products we carry with the same rigor, we'd have nearly empty grocery shelves.

The unfortunate reality is that if you are going to participate in a globalized food distribution system you are going to get your hands dirty. Only localized economies are at least potentially transparent enough to avoid such guilt by association. Simply shopping at the co-op doesn't make your dollars immune to supporting companies with whose policies you might disagree. We as conscientious shoppers desperately want it to be so but what cost are we willing to pay? How many of us are willing to invest the time and energy required to research every company whose products we buy? How many of us are willing to forgo a convenient and affordable product (e.g. canned beans) altogether if we discover that all the brands available come from companies with questionable policies? To pay higher prices for goods from local vendors we can actually trust to support their workers, their communities, and the environment? We'd love to have our cake and eat it too, but often that's just not realistic.

I would love for the co-op to dedicate more energy to ongoing research on the brands it carries and to make that information accessible to owners. Investing in long term efforts like that will have far more impact than any reactionary boycott ever will.

Sally Jolles, Jos...
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I agree with Clara. I think that the Co-op could play a pivotal role in helping educate owners. The Co-op has always been a great place to exchange ideas with both staff and other patrons surrounding food quality, safety, as well as animal and human rights. As owners, we trust the Co-op to help us make better choices. I think, at the very least, owners should be informed when issues like this exist. It is ultimately up to us whether we want to purchase these products. It would be powerful, if we, as a community, make sure that brands who claim to live up to certain standards- respect the rights of their own workers. Bottom line: we care about where our food comes from and how it got there. I think we can all agree on that.

Kathy Humiston, M...
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I agree with Clara and Sally...the real Co-op related issue here is food and its producers. As a former staff member I know there are--or should be--concerns about many products carried, much more could be done in terms of educating Co-op owners and the wider community so that each individual could make informed choices that best serve their own needs and beliefs. 

If the Co-op is going to carry products produced/owned by ConAgra, Cargill, General Mills, Pepsi and Coca-Cola, et al, then I think Eden should also be retained. These other huge corporations do far more to change the course of clean food--and politics-- than most people realize. 

Elizabeth Wrigley...
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This is a uniquely symbolic moment where choices about whether to carry Eden (and other brands suing to deny their workers contraceptive health care) can influence a national conversation about workers' rights. For the Co-op (of all places!) to continue to carry Eden at this moment, when the specter of a boycott has been raised, effectively asserts that reproductive health care is a discardable side issue to workers' rights.

I think it is misleading to subsume that under general issues about many other companies also violating workers' rights.

Kristy Clemons, R...
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Please stop carrying Eden products. The Co-op stands for more than just food. Their products can be replaced.

Kristy Clemons, R...
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Please stop carrying Eden products. The Co-op stands for more than just food. Their products can be replaced.

Alexandria Lai
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I agree that Willy St. should stop carrying Eden Foods products and/or put pressure on the company to revise its policies. Thanks for being responsive to owner feedback - this is such an important topic!

Kathy Humiston, M...
Kathy Humiston, Megan Humiston's picture
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Joined: Oct 31 2012

I am concerned that if Willy Street Co-op, as well as other co-ops around the country, discontinues Eden Foods we will lose another independent organic provider. I choose Eden over other brands in large part because they have not sold out to a mega-corporation and I think it is very important to keep as many independent companies in this industry as possible--if all organic ends up being owned by the likes of ConAgra, General Mills, Cargill, etc. then organic standards are eventually going to be completely sacrificed for the sake of higher profits. And I am far more concerned about the business practices of many of the huge conglomerates than I am about Eden's politics. Eden is quite transparent; ConAgra--not so much! Many of Eden's ingredients are sourced in North America, whereas other companies do not disclose country of origin. Eden's sourcing policy supports farmers and employment across this country, and products are free of contaminants that may be found in imports. Fossil fuel is saved because of shorter shipping distances; emissions are reduced. In addition to using BPA-free cans Eden also packages in glass, providing another important choice for those of us who try to avoid plastics. We are talking about many more items in the store than just canned beans vs dried--for many of these items the quality and flavor of other brands is often less than Eden's in my opinion.

While I do not agree with Eden's politics, I feel it is my choice whether or not I purchase their products. If another person chooses to switch to a different brand, that is their choice and their business. I agree that WSGC should band with other co-ops and send a strongly worded message to Eden Foods, but by removing their products from the co-op,  aren't we limiting/denying the freedom of choice to every Co-op owner? If I want a store to decide what I am eating I can go to Copps and choose between Roundys, Kraft or more Roundys--no thanks!  And how much will our boycott really impact Eden? Yes, I can go to another store or order direct, but I prefer to support my co-op and choose to spend my food dollars in a store that supports local, regional and independent producers and provides a great standard of living for Co-op staff. If Co-op owners shift our purchases to other sources and reduce revenue to the Co-op we impact the lives of our staff and the profitability of the store.  

There is much more at stake here than Eden's response to the evolution of American health care or questionable decisions by the Supreme Court. My bottom line is to communicate with Eden Foods on an individual level and at the Co-op level, but to retain the product line and let each Co-op owner exercise their personal right to choose. 

Kristy Clemons, R...
Kristy Clemons, Roni Monteith's picture
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Joined: Feb 23 2013

Absolutely it's your choice. If the Co-op discontinues Eden products, that's not the same as forbidding people to buy them. For example, I like Oreos so I buy them at a different store because the Co-op doesn't carry that particular product.