John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO: A Fresh Perspective

I grew up in a small town in the South. My mother was a holistic woman who always used to shop at our local health food store, which was the size of a big closet. So I grew up eating and loving things like carob and rice crackers. Going to my first Whole Foods while living in LA in the early 90s was like entering a utopia of sorts. It was huge and had things like hand-made soap, beeswax candles, rows and rows of natural body products, and organic produce all under one roof. Now living in the Northeast, as early as last year I had been known to drive an hour to the closest Whole Foods. Now we have one locally, so my effort is less.

My first Whole Foods experience launched my fascination with the store and with what John Mackey must have been like when he started Whole Foods: a cool hippie selling organic vegetables out of his garage. Fast forward 30 years and that cool hippie now runs a four-billion-dollar organic food empire. Wow! During the past year I have grown even more fascinated with him. The most recent articles and interviews don’t put him in the best light. Needless to say, I still can’t get enough of his off-the-wall views, book choices, and even his very vocal opinions on the environment, health care, and politics. Honestly, I don’t share his environmental or health care views, but I do admire his passionate approach and boldness even knowing the uproar it will cause among his customers.

I recently mentioned Whole Foods in a Daily Living tip, and got tons of emails from people saying they will never shop at Whole Foods because of his beliefs! We as consumers must take responsibility, do the research, and read labels. I would say one of my most endearing qualities is the ability to focus on the good in people’s accomplishments. I think we have to look at what John Mackey has done for the health of this country. We simply cannot overlook the fact that Whole Foods has not only been an integral part of the organic food movement but also Whole Foods has been on Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for 13 consecutive years.

His interview on Reason.tv was enough to confirm he does have some interesting opinions on topics such as conscious capitalism and animal welfare. In my opinion, conscious capitalism is an extremely innovative concept. And yes, there are some glitches in Whole Foods, but Mackey is trying to meet high consumer demand, and I know there are consequences to that. We are dealing with a big business here. But it is a big, healthy business attempting to promote wellness. Yes, Mackey and Whole Foods may not be perfect, but for me the good outweighs the bad. Whole Foods made healthy food mainstream. I know my family is healthier because of John Mackey. I remain a fan!

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