Fenger Pointing

Becky Fenger | September 2, 2009

Food fights

Becky FengerThe dustup over the Aug. 11 Wall Street Journal guest editorial by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is not without its ironies. Mackey, you see, had the audacity to point out that President Barack Obama's plan for health care reform would create unsustainable deficits. The liberals who form the core of Whole Foods customer base were so insulted by his statement that health care is not a right that they called for a boycott of his stores. However, other grocery shoppers who agree that Obama's plan to nationalize health care is a terrible idea have launched a counter "buycott" in support of CEO Mackey. Let the food fight begin!

I have mixed emotions here. Some of you might recall my feelings about spending 2 or 3 times as much for organic food that is neither more nutritious nor healthful and is fertilized with poop. If that turns you on, have at it. As pointed out by the American Council on Science and Health, Whole Foods' business model "is based on the lie that trace chemicals are dangerous."

This is similar to the Alar-on-apples hysteria I wrote about last week, orchestrated by actress Meryl Streep. OK. That was in 1989. But Meryl Streep is at it again. As the star of the movie "Julie and Julia" on the life of chef Julia Child, Streep told a British paper in a recent interview that Julia Child was "a pawn of big business." It's enough to raise Julia from the dead!

A friend of Julia's relates that Julia had two major pet peeves: 1) She despised people who demonized specific foods, like butter and sugar, and 2) She despised activists who terrified people about the safety of their food. Julia often preached that "all foods are safe in moderation" and "food is to be enjoyed, not feared." Food was neither "good" nor "bad" to her but to be celebrated in all its variety.

Insiders know that Julia Child was furious at Meryl Streep for her role in the apple scare, and rightly so. In the ensuing years, Streep was completely discredited as a source of information on which foods are safe, yet there she was telling the Telegraph that Julia Child "resisted making a connection between the high-fat diet of heavily-laden cordon bleu-influenced cuisine and cholesterol levels." Where is a sharp cleaver when one really needs one?

Back to Whole Foods. The market was pleased as punch to put a banner in a window of a newly-opened store that read: "We Banned Trans Fats Before Bloomberg Did." The reference was to New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg who banned trans fats, even though there is no scientific evidence that doing so improves health, only conjecture.

Quotes of Note:
"What the f--- are you doing here?" – A check-out clerk at Whole Foods in New York City when he found out a Phoenix resident who was in the store wasn't an Obama supporter.

"Vegans complaining about hot dogs is like the Amish complaining about gas prices." – Susan Thatcher of Irvine, Calif.