The campaign to get Eden Foods products off our local co-op shelves

Presently there are movements afoot, both in Ann Arbor and in Ypsilanti, to pull products by Eden Foods off the shelves of our respective food co-ops. Following is a conversation with Georgina Hickey, who is leading the charge in Ypsilanti, and Ann Rogers, who is doing the same in Ann Arbor, explaining why, in their opinion, this is the morally right thing to do, given Eden’s position on the reproductive health of their female employees.

edenout

MARK: A number of co-ops around the country have voted over the course of the past year to stop carrying the products of Clinton-based Eden Foods. And, as I understand it, you, Georgina and Ann, would like for the Ypsi Food Co-op (YFC) and the Ann Arbor People’s Food Co-op (PFC) to do the same. And, toward that end, you’ve launched petition drives, in hopes of putting the issue before the member-owners of your respective co-ops. Before we get into the specifics of your campaigns, perhaps we should start by discussing what it is about Eden that has people around the country initiating boycotts. My friend Dan Gillotte is the General Manager of the Wheatsville co-op in Austin, Texas, and here’s how they summarized the issue in a recent copy of their newsletter, after members voted 639 to 338 to stop carrying products manufactured by Eden Foods.

Eden Foods is one of the oldest natural and organic food companies in North America and has been an industry leader in maintaining organic standards, directly supporting North American family farms, and providing Non-GMO assurance on all products. The brand’s line of BPA-free canned beans, condiments, soymilk and pastas has been carried at Wheatsville Food Co-op since the 80’s.

On March 20, 2013, Eden Foods filed suit against the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which administers the Affordable Care Act (ACA), for the right to opt out of contraceptive coverage for its employees. Eden Foods objects to a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires companies, if they choose to offer health insurance to their employees, to include coverage of a wide array of contraceptive choices.

Is that a relatively good summary of the issue as you see it, or are there other factors that I’m not aware of that are motivating this campaign in Ypsilanti?

GEORGINA: Well, it’s a start, but much has happened since then, and it’s an issue that is still unfolding. Eden Foods’ original case argued that complying with the ACA requirements violated their deeply held religious beliefs under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Eden lost its case and its subsequent appeals. In the opinion of the court, the ACA obligated only the company, and did not in any way restrict the religious beliefs of the individual who owns the company.

MARK: But then, after that, we had the Hobby Lobby decision, right?

GEORGINA: Yes, this past summer, there was the Hobby Lobby decision, which suggested that courts might be willing to answer Eden’s questions differently. And, as a result, the Eden decision was vacated back to lower courts… This doesn’t, by the way, mean, “You lost before, but now you’ve won.”’ It basically means, “You can ask your question of the courts again.”

MARK: So Eden refiled?

michael_potterGEORGINA: Right. Eden had to file their case again, and it’s still making its way through the process. Michael Potter, founder, chairperson, president, and sole shareholder of Eden Foods, has referenced a final decision having come from Judge Denise Hood’s court in Detroit on Feb 12, 2015, but we have not been able to locate any official records referencing a decision from that court on that date. [Michael Potter seen right.]

Potter has given contradictory and inconsistent public statements about the depth of his religious convictions and the real motivations behind his court challenges to the ACA. His lawyer described his views this way: “In accordance with his Catholic faith, Potter believes that any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation, whether as an end or means — including abortifacients and contraception — is wrong.” But in another interview, Potter himself said he cared more about long underwear than birth control, suggesting that his political objections to the mandates of the ACA far outweighed any religious convictions he might have.

Unfortunately, media reports surrounding the issue fell off quickly after the summer, and there has been little pressure on Potter to explain what he and his company are up to, and hold them accountable for the contradictory statements they have given on their case and intentions. We hope that, by raising the issue locally, in the kinds of places that made Eden Foods what it is today, we might help to change that. We want to send a clear message to Potter about his customers’ concerns over his blatant disregard for the beliefs and health of his female employees.

I personally support a boycott of Eden Foods because I think their actions unfairly impact their female employees, and I don’t want to see their actions create a precedent for even more drastic anti-woman actions on the part of other companies to undermine the ACA.

MARK: And where does the YFC Board of Directors stand on the issue?

GEORGINA: The YFC board considered the issue back in July, when it was raised by Ben Miller, a member of the Co-op’s Board of Directors. (See page 3 of the most recent Co-op newsletter for the board president’s summary of the board’s position.) In short, they opted not to do anything at that time, which is part of why we’ve begun a petition drive in order to get this on the annual meeting agenda. Some board members feel they need member desires made clear, others think they already decided, so, in their eyes, this is a petition to reconsider.

MARK: So how did this most recent push to get Eden products off the shelf come about?

GEORGINA: A member of the newly re-forming chapter of Washtenaw County NOW raised the issue with that group (of which I am also a member) after the Ann Arbor People’s Food Co-op seemed to be dodging the issue, and that’s where this new push began. Members of NOW sent letters to both co-ops, and I followed up by attending the YFC board meeting (where I’m a member) and asking for the issue to be put on the annual meeting agenda. I was told, given the bylaws of the Co-op, that it would take 50 signatures to make that happen. So, as a member of the YFC, I started a petition. [If you’re a member of the YFC, you can sign the petition here.]

Washtenaw County NOW has committed itself to this issue. We are appealing to the co-ops, but we’re also planning other actions around raising consumer awareness on the issue and putting pressure on Eden Foods. (Cheryl Farmer is the leader our local chapter.) My take on the NOW position is that we would welcome the opportunity to support this company again as soon as they offer female employees the opportunity to use their healthcare premiums for the treatments they and their doctors deem most appropriate. We do not believe the work that Eden Foods has done to promote sustainable and organic food, while laudable, exempts them from showing this basic level of respect and fair treatment toward their female employees.

MARK: And how about from your perspective, Ann?

ANN: What you and Georgina have written is a very good summary. I would add that Michael Potter is trying to portray this as an affront to his personal religious convictions. However, Eden Foods is for-profit corporation, which makes it a separate entity under the law from Michael Potter, citizen. The corporate form provides a shield for its shareholders from personal liability PROVIDED the corporation interests are kept separate from the personal affairs of the shareholders. This is called the “corporate veil”. So, this argument of Michael Potter’s that Eden Foods, Inc. providing birth control as part of their employee medical plan infringes on his personal religious freedoms doesn’t hold water.

MARK: We heard the history of the at the YFC from Georgina. What’s the background in Ann Arbor, Ann?

ANN: Last July, the Hobby Lobby ruling was handed down, and it appeared that Eden Foods had the Supreme Court on its side. Several Co-op members, including me, attended a board meeting and asked about the process for putting a boycott measure on the ballot. We were told that we could start a petition drive to have it put on the ballot, which would require signatures from 10% (approximately 800) members. The board members seemed to agree that it would be difficult to get that many signatures, and they talked about changing the bylaws to reduce that percentage. A second way to get it on the ballot, according to the PFC bylaws, would be for the board to vote to put it on the annual ballot, which comes out in April each year. The board agreed at their September meeting to put it on the ballot themselves. This did this in part because of the feeling among them that the 10% mark was onerous. The Coop published in the holiday issue of their Connection Newsletter that it would be on the ballot.

After January’s board meeting we heard that they had voted at that meeting to rescind the ballot measure, though. The PFC Vice President told us it was due to ”deeper concerns as a result of placing the boycott question on the April ballot.” (The minutes from that meeting are now available.)

The boycott supporters sprung back into action. Many members emailed their concerns to the board about the democratic process being thwarted. We began an unofficial petition drive and collected 200 signatures from Co-op shoppers to have the measure put back on the ballot. More than 20 supporters attended the February board meeting and requested they put the measure back on the ballot. But the board did not do so. It now appears that the petition drive is the only way to get this put on the ballot, and it will now have to be a special ballot. It won’t be on the April ballot.

I’ve requested that the Co-op notify the membership that this has been removed from the ballot. It has now been 7 weeks since their vote to rescind the measure, and still the Coop membership has not been notified. Currently the only place on their website that this information can found is in the January board meeting minutes.

MARK: Has there been any response from Eden in the wake of Wheatsville and other large co-ops around the country voting to boycott them?

GEORGINA: Indirectly. They put out a statement last July. You can find it here.

ANN: I know that Eden Foods wrote to the Ann Arbor People’s Food Coop in response to their board vote (subsequently retracted) last September to put the issue on the member ballot. In that response, Eden Foods referenced its own statements on the issue, like the one they released in April 2013, which includes the following two quotes.

“We believe in a woman’s right to decide, and have access to, all aspects of their health care and reproductive management. This lawsuit does not block, or intend to block, anyone’s access to health care or reproductive management.”

“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.”

It appears that their argument is that they aren’t trying to block access to health care. Of course they’re not. How could a company possibly keep a woman from seeking medical care on her own time at her own expense? What the company is seeking to do is to not provide for some of that medical care as part of the employee’s compensation package. The effect, then, would be to require women seeking such care to pay for it themselves, thereby reducing the value of her overall compensation package.

[Following is a clip from Eden’s letter to the the People’s Food Co-op. The entire letter can be found here.]

edenletter

MARK: What’s your sense as to how, if at all, a boycott of Eden Foods may impact the finances of the Ypsi Food Co-op? If I’m not mistaken, quite a few of the Co-op’s best selling items are produced by Eden, correct?

GEORGINA: To be honest, I don’t think it is up to me to answer this question. I’ve asked, and will continue to ask, the Co-op general manager for more information on sales (or at least ordering) stats on Eden Foods products. I think the membership needs this information to make an informed decision about whether or not they would like to take action and, if so, of what sort. We do have a list of Eden products sold at the Co-op and it is lengthy, but that doesn’t mean much without sales (or at least ordering figures).

Like all of the people signing the petition and most of the folks calling for a discussion of the issue at the YFC annual meeting, I’m a member-owner of the Co-op and I very much want to see it continue to succeed. At the same time, I don’t believe that the Co-op just a grocery store. It’s democratically run. It’s a community of sorts. This creates an opportunity for that community to consider the political and ethical ramifications of what we chose to sell.

At least one board member has raised the concern that if we don’t have Eden soymilk and other products on the shelves, customers will go somewhere else. I would like to suggest a different possibility. With the membership behind the decision to boycott (should they choose to go that direction) and solid efforts to reach out to the other customers and explain the situation, I would hope that loyalty to the Co-op would grow from YFC taking a principled stand on the issue. Whole Foods has already passed on requests to boycott. They have no members, no community, to direct their policy — only lone consumers with the power of their individual dollars.

MARK: And how about in Ann Arbor, Ann?

ANN: Co-op board members have lamented at board meetings that they would like to have a more active membership. It seems to me that having the members make a decision about the types of companies they’d like the Co-op to support with their business would be a great way for them to encourage a more fully-committed and engaged membership. I think the process has the potential to increase both loyalty and sales.

MARK: How confident are you that high-quality alternatives to Eden products can be sourced, assuming members agree to a boycott of Eden Foods?

ANN: I have seen that the Co-op has alternatives for Eden Foods product on its shelves from other suppliers. I have checked several times over the past few months, and have been unable to find a product from Eden Foods for which there is not a similar product available from another supplier. Many shoppers are already boycotting Eden’s products. We’ve asked the Co-op to put up educational materials about this issue so that all members can make informed purchasing decisions.

GEORGINA: I’m fairly confident, but, again, this is probably best not done by me. As a member-owner, however, I’m willing to help, and I know others are as well. Let’s start by seeing what we already carry, and then look at what else our distributors offer that we could easily carry. Someone in the community just asked who else packages their products in BPA-free cans. (Eden was a leader in this area, just to give them their due.) A bit of searching turned up the answer that Bionaturae, Westbrae, and Muir Glen also can in BPA-free containers. With a better sense of just which products our customers buy, we could certainly work to identify other options. Some of the macrobiotic products may be harder to replace, which is a shame, but I believe that, if we educate our customers about the absence of these products, they would stand by the Co-op on this.

MARK: Is there perhaps a middle ground, where members could vote to start replacing Eden products over a given period of time?

GEORGINA: Sure. Absolutely. Let’s hear some concrete proposals — getting this at the meeting is all about giving the members a forum to discuss options! Once that is secured, we’d like to spend more time brainstorming a whole host of ways to respond — at the Co-op level, at the community level, at the individual level…

In one case (Central Co-op in Seattle), consumers voted with their dollars first and the co-op took Eden off their shelves after a significant decline in sales. I do not advocate this process for YFC, since it has the potential to stick the Co-op with stock for which it has paid but cannot sell, and therefore stands to hurt our Co-op financially. If we have a majority of members who intend to boycott the products, though, I think it’s in the best interest of the Co-op’s financial health to adopt a boycott and not order the products in the first place.

ANN: The goal is to end the Co-op’s financial support of Eden Foods unless and until the company includes all FDA-approved forms of birth control as part of their employee health care plan at no additional charge to employees. If a phased approach would be effective and would help the Co-op financially, then we would certainly consider that approach. As for being stuck with product, there are already policies in place at the Ann Arbor Co-op about implementing a boycott, and these policies outline what to do with product that has already been purchased. So the products wouldn’t likely be removed from the shelves immediately, and the Co-op certainly wouldn’t be left unable to sell product that it has already purchased. (Policy G.12.8 outlines how the Co-op will return items to the supplier, if possible and, if not, then the purchased stock is to be sold until depleted.)

MARK: Are there lessons to be learned from other co-ops, like Wheatsville, as to 1) how a campaign like this should be waged, and 2) how alternatives are sourced post Eden?

GEORGINA: I’m sure there are lessons to be learned from other co-ops, but, other than what I’ve already noted about the Seattle co-op, and read in the news on the others, I don’t yet have these details. Who wants to help look into this?

ANN: There are many other co-ops around the country that have been grappling with this issue, and we can learn from them. As you noted above, Mark, the Wheatsville co-op has eloquently stated the reasons for their member-voted boycott. And there are lists of alternative products available (usually from co-ops that have a policy prohibiting boycotts).

MARK: Given that they’re a relatively local company, might there be an opportunity to meet and discuss these items face to face? I don’t know that doing so would be fruitful, given comments I’ve read from Eden’s owner, but I don’t imagine it would hurt, would it?

GEORGINA: YFC invited Potter to an education session, to be held at the public library. Potter declined.

ANN: I know that the Ann Arbor Co-op had intended to hold a forum on the boycott issue, had this issue not been removed from the April ballot. Vanessa Marr (vicepresident@peoplesfood.coop) was working in January to line up speakers from both sides of the boycott issue. I don’t know whether she had asked anyone from Eden Foods to participate or not. You might ask her, if she did, what their response was.

MARK: How many signatures to you need to bring this to a vote in Ypsi? And when do you need them by?

GEORGINA: The petition is a means for getting the issue in front of the Ypsi Food Co-op membership for a discussion and possible action. We need 50 signatures of current co-op members, ideally by March 15, 2015. The board needs to verify the signatures and, as specified in the bylaws, appropriately notify the membership that there will be a special meeting on the issue. We are aiming for March 15 so that this “special” meeting can happen in conjunction with the coop’s annual meeting that is already scheduled for Thursday, May 7 at 5:30pm at the Freight House. It is costly for the coop to do extra notifications to members, so we want to use the annual meeting notice that will already be going out.

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70 Comments

  1. Anonymous Ypsi
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Wow. I wish people cared as much about the fact that most of our food contains life-killing chemicals as they do about the religious beliefs of the owners of companies. This, in my opinion (which is gonna upset a lot of people) is a perfect example of being distracted from real problems. HOW ABOUT PETITIONING THE CO-OP TO STOP SELLING FOOD THAT CONTAINS GMOS, PESTICIDES, HERBICIDES, FUNGICIDES, PLASTICS, HEAVY METALS, AND OTHER HORRIBLE CONTAMINANTS THAT ARE ACTUALLY KILLING PEOPLE?!?!?!?! I am a full member of the coop and will happily vote to keep Eden Foods because they care to keep the chemicals out of our bodies. BIRTH CONTROL IS EXTREMELY TOXIC, BY THE WAY. Horrible hormones that mess up women for life. Everyone needs to get their priorities straight and quit hopping on a high horse that makes them look and feel good whilst creepy chemicals are turning them into zombies. smh. THEY AREN’T PUTTING CATHOLOCISM IN THE FOOD, PEOPLE, SO JUST CHILL OUT! LMFAO.

  2. EOS
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    No one should be forced to pay the cost associated with killing babies. It’s not medical care, it’s homicide.

  3. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    The employees of Eden are entering agreement to work under specific conditions. Those conditions include agreed upon salary/ wages, agreed upon amount of vacation time, and an agreed upon health care package. If the health care package is not agreeable to the workers then find a different job.

  4. Mary Delcamp
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Reproductive health is THE most important health care issue women and families face every day. Eden Foods is completely wrong to discriminate against women employees. Not touching their products and haven’t for some time. Their reputation be damned.

  5. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I am sure there is are plenty of women who agree with Eden policy. Maybe be more discriminating about where you work if you do not like the healthcare package? The political puritanism is killing us…

  6. Dan Gillotte
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    This is the difficult position that ethical food stores are in- for some GMOs are most important to avoid, for others local food is most important, for some the treatment of workers is more critical. still others care if the food is vegan or gluten free or paleo or meets some other specific dietary need. I think our co-ops lose when we try too hard to be food cops. Have some basic guidelines of what you most support and care about and leave the rest up to your owners and shoppers telling you they want through their purchases.

  7. Posted March 14, 2015 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    After talking with Dan and others about this topic, I think the big takeaway for me is that our co-ops need to have clear systems in place to deal with issues like these, how they’re brought to a vote, and what happens if/when decisions are made. In both of these cases, in Ann Arbor and in Ypsi, it seems like there was just a lot of confusion concerning how action should be taken, whose decision it would be, etc.

    As for the Eden boycott, I’d like to think that we could apply pressure on them in this way. I don’t know, however, if it’ll work. And I suspect that co-op management is worried that they’ll just end up driving customers to Whole Foods. It’s a really complicated situation, and one wonders how it will play out. Where do we draw the line when looking for perfect products from completely awesome companies? I think this is an awesome discussion to be having, though.

  8. Posted March 14, 2015 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    And, with all due respect, Mr. Flake, you’re out of your mind when you say:

    “The employees of Eden are entering agreement to work under specific conditions. Those conditions include agreed upon salary/wages, agreed upon amount of vacation time, and an agreed upon health care package. If the health care package is not agreeable to the workers then find a different job.”

    That’s like someone saying, “Your honor, she could have quit if she didn’t like me grabbing her boobs.” There’s level of respect that all employees are entitled to, and you can’t just say, “Well, if they don’t like black lung, or a boss that poops in the coffee pot, or getting verbally berated, they should just move on.” We aspire to more in this country. I know you’d love it if we lived in an Ayn Rand fairytale where that’s how people behaved, but it’s not. This is a nation of laws.

  9. Cheryl Farmer
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Ypsilanti Food Co-op products are already organic, GMO and BPA free. Organic means grown without pesticides, herbicides, fungicides etc. Our request of Eden Foods is that they they provide birth control prescriptions as a covered benefit under their health care plan so that their female employees will have access.. Surveys suggest that 99% of American women used birth control at some point in their lives, so this should be a non-partisan, ecumenical issue.

  10. Bonnie Fauman
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I have stopped buying/using Eden products since I became aware of their policy of imposing their beliefs on their employees.

  11. Jcp2
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Since these are coops, I think it’s perfectly fine to have members to have a vote on this issue, or any other issue that they feel strongly about. It’s the board’s duty to respond to the membership’s desires. If they don’t, then it’s just another warehouse club.

  12. EOS
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Low cost birth control is available to all women. Those who choose to destroy a life should be the only ones who pay for it. Funny that the Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional because of an inherent right to privacy. Keep it private and don’t try to compel others to participate. On the day of conception a baby is alive and fully human. It is a human life that is destroyed with Plan B.

  13. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Mark, Ayn Rand is an idiot. Not a fan of unsafe work conditions, sexual harassment, or having my employer poop in my coffee either (?). I do however, understand that there are lot of people (I am not one of them) who are strongly against birth control/ abortion–saying it is akin to murder and stuff. A lot of businesses offer no healthcare plan. How is a business offering an incomplete healthcare plan analagous to a business doing highly illegal stuff–like tricking their employees into eating biohazardous poop? What are you talking about?

  14. Posted March 14, 2015 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Cheer up, EOS. Plan B doesn’t cause abortions, it just prevents ovulation. No human life is destroyed.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/02/22/172595689/morning-after-pills-dont-cause-abortion-studies-say

  15. Lynne
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    We really need to divorce healthcare from employment. Even though it is true that individuals can job shop for companies with benefits they want, it is also true that labor markets tend to give employers much more power, unless there is a union to counter that power imbalance.

    Expanding medicare to all would be my first choice but another option would be for people to all buy policies on the existing ACA marketplaces.

  16. EOS
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Doug,
    Your link cites one study. The manufacturers themselves claim otherwise.

    http://www.morningafterpill.org/how-does-it-work.html

  17. Posted March 14, 2015 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Um. no, the manufacturers do not claim otherwise. Are you confusing Plan B with RU-486? The makers of Plan B say it works by inhibiting ovulation, but may also inhibit fertilization and implantation. As I’m sure you know, most fertilized eggs don’t implant anyway, and never develop into embryos. It’s not an abortion drug. Here’s their website, if you’re curious: http://www.planbonestep.com/about-plan-b-one-step.aspx

  18. EOS
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Doug,
    You can’t even keep your story straight. First you say it just prevents ovulation. Then you concede it may also inhibit fertilization and implantation. Bingo! Life starts in the fallopian tube at the instance of fertilization. Zygote, embryo, fetus – they are all human and alive.

    Sure, some eggs don’t implant for a variety of reasons. That isn’t justification to take action to ensure that a fertilized egg doesn’t implant. That’s about as logical as saying some infants die of SIDS so it’s O.K. to suffocate a child. It’s wrong. It’s killing another human. And no one should be compelled to participate against their will. It is legal in the USA today, but one day each one of us will be held accountable for our actions.

  19. Posted March 14, 2015 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    No, the story is perfectly straight: it’s not an abortion drug. It works by preventing ovulation. Some studies indicate that it may also inhibit fertilization and implantation, but other studies show that it cannot prevent implantation. It will not terminate a pregnancy.

    Only about 30 to 40 % of fertilized eggs implant, anyway. Do you consider all the rest abortions? If so, you’ll have to have a talk with Mother Nature.

  20. EOS
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Don’t be so obtuse. I didn’t call it an abortion drug or that it terminated a pregnancy. I said it kills human life. I want no part in it. I won’t pay for others to use it and I support Eden Foods for their moral stance.

  21. Posted March 14, 2015 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    It’s sad, but true. I’m so obtuse that I don’t understand how inhibiting ovulation kills human life. Or how inhibiting implantation does either. Do condoms kill human life? What if two people don’t have sex at all, thereby preventing any possible fertilization? Since I didn’t have sex today (I was very busy), does that make me a murderer? I think you need to think this through more.

  22. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Is the source of confusion not knowing the difference between “fertilization” and “implantation” of a fertilized egg on the walls of a uterus?

  23. EOS
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    The confusion over terminology is the intended result. Life starts at the moment of conception. That’s undisputed scientific fact. The medical field has recently defined pregnancy to start at the time the egg implants in the wall of the uterus. Fine. Then they define abortion as the termination of a pregnancy. Fine. So they claim birth control methods that prevent implantation are not abortifacients because the “pregnancy” hasn’t started. Fine.

    But preventing implantation KILLS THE ZYGOTE/EMBRYO/FETUS/BABY/HUMAN LIFE.

  24. EOS
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    If you inhibit ovulation, use a condom successfully, or don’t have sex, then fertilization doesn’t happen and life does not begin.

  25. charlieRomeo
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    No female employee should have compulsory pregnancy as a condition of her employment in receiving health care benefits. When will the christian fundamentalist/sharia employers start beheading female employees for violating the employers religious beliefs ?

  26. Posted March 14, 2015 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Well, there’s your answer, FF. I too know the difference, but don’t agree that Plan B “kills human life.”

  27. kjc
    Posted March 15, 2015 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    Poverty kills human lives too but you won’t find EOS caring about that or a million other social ills that cost human lives. “Confusion over terminology” is his moral philosophy. Sit down fool.

  28. EOS
    Posted March 15, 2015 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    So a growing zygote with a complete human genome is not alive?

  29. Posted March 15, 2015 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    EOS’s selective approach to science is interesting.

    Aside from that, everything I know about Mr. Potter indicates that he is an extremely troubled individual.

  30. Lynne
    Posted March 15, 2015 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that if life begins at fertilization, which is NOT an undisputed fact but more a matter of philosophical opinion, then it would follow that anyone who knowingly engages in a behavior where eggs are fertilized but not implanted, is guilty of negligent homicide. Since the only ways to really prevent this are barrier methods of birth control, abstinence, or by preventing ovulation, trying to have a baby results in more flushed implanted eggs. Sorry, if you want to get pregnant, you cant, because trying to get pregnant means lots of “life” not getting implanted. It is negligent. Plan B, which prevents ovulation most of the time actually probably results in fewer fertilized eggs failing to implant. Anyone actually concerned with fertilized eggs not implanting would favor Plan B and punish people who refuse to use appropriate birth control. Therefore we can conclude that EOS doesnt really care about the fate of fertilized eggs.

    The larger point here of course is should employers be allowed to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against female employees by not including essential health care to women. Do we really want our employers making those kinds of decisions and judgements? EOS may not realize it but they are making a really good argument for why it is important to get healthcare removed from employment. Who would want someone with such a repugnant sense of morality making those decisions about one’s health care?

  31. EOS
    Posted March 15, 2015 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    You can’t classify it as negligent if it is the result of an intentional act. It is a willful destruction off life. I’m all for removing both employers and government from involvement in healthcare insurance, but that’s an entirely different topic.

  32. Brainless
    Posted March 15, 2015 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I’m officially declaring this the “Worst Thread Ever”. The real issue here seem to be (I think) that co-op governance has some problems. As user-run organizations, they are supposed to have clean and efficient methods to make these decisions, but apparently they are just a mass of confusion. There’s some interesting stuff there. This tussle between for-profit-like commerce and more conscience-driven food sourcing has a lot of facets.

    Instead, we get Cheryl “WATER STREET” Farmer – who should really just crawl under a fucking rock for bankrupting the city (Why the fuck aren’t you in prison?) – and yet another moronic “debate” with EOS about killin’ babies. The two saddest people in Ypsi completely off-topic. It’s a proud day for the blog.

  33. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 15, 2015 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    There are historical reasons for tying healthcare to employment, I think. At this point, however, it seems wildly anachronistic to place employees in the position to be dependent upon their employer for a healthcare plan. It seems so arbitrary at this point in time…It is not fair to the employee but it is also not fair to the employer to put them into a position where they are paying for things their conscience tells them is immoral. The bigger issue, in my opinion is: Should health care be separated from employment? I think it should be separate.

  34. Posted March 15, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I cannot agree with you about his being the worse thread ever… not when Doug gave us the following.

    “What if two people don’t have sex at all, thereby preventing any possible fertilization? Since I didn’t have sex today (I was very busy), does that make me a murderer? I think you need to think this through more.”

  35. Posted March 15, 2015 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    And I just got an update from Georgina. As of right now, she has 63 signatures, well over the 50 necessary to get it on the ballot. So it look like it’s going to a vote before the members of the Co-op.

  36. Jay Steichmann
    Posted March 15, 2015 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Mark, Lisa Steichmann has been exchanging emails with PFC board members (and with Ann Rogers). We were at the original board meeting where a member vote on the Eden Foods boycott was requested to be on the ballot. At that time, it appeared that the board supported putting it on this April’s ballot. Then…strange things began to happen…Including a board member’s published comment that they felt “uncomfortable” having PFC members participate in discussions at board meetings. Since that first board meeting, both of our schedules have precluded going to more, but Lisa has been in discussion with one or more board members.

    To those who have suggested that it should all come down to individual choice as to what to buy, I agree that if you’re shopping at Kroger, where customer’s preferences are considered in aggregate but not democratically, this is the better path. At a co-operative, I believe it is entirely appropriate to poll the members on the issue in order to decide. I am adult enough to abide by the decision if the majority who vote want to keep Eden. I also feel it is my prerogative to speak up when my co-op (PFC) spends money to use a slick marketing company called “How Good” to rate products sold by the co-op on a range of qualities such as GMOs, BPA, social justice, and others. In this case, Eden Foods was given the category ranking of “Best.” To me, this means that my co-op dollars are being spent to promote Eden’s products over other category vendors who may simply be “good” or “better.” Lisa Steichmann contacted a representative of “How Good” who said that social justice was a factor, but overall, Eden still “earned” a “best” from their criteria. I may wind up to be a minority voice on this issue, but I believe strongly that the worker MUST be protected from the whims and mythological biases of ownership.

  37. kate
    Posted March 15, 2015 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this important post, Mark!

    I don’t think it is well known that there are other organic canned food brands that are BPA free. I believe that for a while, Eden was the only one. It would be good to make sure all the customers know this, so they have alternatives, and will be easier to accept/join a boycott.

  38. Posted March 15, 2015 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Back when I didn’t have other alternatives, I bought Eden soymilk.

    At the time, it seemed fine, but now, I would say that it isn’t very good soy milk.

  39. Posted March 15, 2015 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    It is a sin for a married woman to not be constantly pregnant.

  40. Posted March 18, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Mark – super cool blog. fascinating comments too. [not ironic]
    people are amazing and wonderful creatures!

    I keep feeling better about the current situation with the Ann Arbor PFC:
    In order to get a boycott of Eden Foods products onto the ballot, there will be a successful petition effort. The members absolutely have control of this issue.

    To be clear on the subject, I do not support a boycott and I have positive feelings about Eden Foods as a business and as a member of our local food community. My initial support for the ballot issue was based on a desire to see the request for a boycott quickly subjected to an overwhelming defeat by the membership. I expect this result because out of the hundreds of coops in the US, only four have taken steps to limit their purchases of Eden products and in Ann Arbor, sales of Eden products have not dropped.

    At this point I absolutely support my fellow members’ voices and rights as owners. I would sign a petition to allow the issue onto the ballot. I will actively campaign against a boycott if that ever becomes an option.

    I agree that it is a bummer that the health care coverage at Eden Foods is not what it should be. There are some vendors who sell stuff to the coop who don’t offer any health insurance to their workers. Some are too small to be compelled to offer insurance under the law. Doesn’t it actually make sense to have universal health coverage and get that whole decision out of the hands of employers? Someday soon we should do that!

    Remember, liking Eden’s is truly not the same thing as liking Michael Potter.
    Thanks again for putting this out here and prompting some great conversation.

    See you around!

  41. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 18, 2015 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Too much nuance, Matt. If you are not receiving full health coverage from your employer then your employer might as well be sneaking poop into your coffee.

  42. Democracy NOW!
    Posted March 19, 2015 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Please don’t start ‘banning’ products from my Co-op! That sets a very dangerous precedent. If we are going to ban one product, we had better apply the same standards to all products. And, if we did, there would be very little food left on the shelves. All of the food at the coop is NOT BPA free, organic, and pesticide free. We sell tons of stuff that contains unhealthy ingredients and no one is petitioning to ban that stuff. In order to be a democratic cooperative, we need to apply the same standards in all product selection, and looking into the ethical and religious beliefs of every company is not feasible. Please stop this witch hunt. It is deplorable. These are not medieval times. I am mortified and embarrassed that this is even happening. People just have to join a cause and fight for something. GEt a life, National Organization for Women, you sure don’t represent THIS woman! TAke your misdirected energy AWAY from my Co-op and quit trying to restrict my access to food and make my food decisions for me. I will be fighting this one all the way. You poked the WRONG bear!!! If you’re ever on the phone with God and I call, you’d better click over and see what the fuck I want! Look out…. you have been warned….

  43. Toxic Hormones
    Posted March 19, 2015 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Oral contraceptives are toxic and horrible for women’s bodies. Don’t let some doctor paid by big pharma tell you that you “need” them…. they completely mess up our bodies. Here is some info on them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6pVJSDiGT0

    I don’t need to have the same ethical beliefs as the companies that make my food. I need to have the same FOOD beliefs.

    This whole issue is very concerning. BAnning products is opening a Pandora’s box of worms we shouldn’t get into…. If we are going to ban this one, I guess we need to send out an ethical questionnaire to every company that sells stuff at the co-op. If anyone disagrees with anything, BAN THEM! I guess we need to give questionnaires to the employees too… if any of our employees have even ever thought of going to church… Fire them! If they don’t have the same views on Proposition 1, excommunicate them! We sell all kinds of GMO foods at the co-op, cuz, if we didn’t, families who have WIC (a federally subsidized program for women, infants and children) wouldn’t be able to buy much of anything at the coop since the program doesn’t allow them to buy most organic food. BAn WIC! If anyone wears red or blue to the Co-op, they must be in a gang. Throw them out! We get into scary territory when we start banning something. It is not democratic, it is fascist or communist or one of those oppression-ists that I get mixed up. lol PLEASE STOP THIS MADNESS! I WANT TO GET OFF!!!

  44. t rex
    Posted March 20, 2015 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    Kiss my grass, National Organization for Women! If you see me fightin’ a bear, you’d better jump in and help the bear!

  45. LHR
    Posted March 20, 2015 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Eden foods was started in Ann Arbor back in the 1960s and was one of the pioneers in the organic and natural foods movement. They have introduced BPA-free plastics to the US market, have maintained organic food standards and integrity, and they have been anti gmo for like 25 and are trying to lobby for gmo labeling on food products. The companies owner is a Catholic and says that the company is pro women’s choice and to choose if they want to use reproductive contraceptives, their lawsuit against the health care act is because it violates their first amendment right to freedom of religion and because their company does not believe in myopic pharmaceutical drugs, or toxic chemical reliant agriculture. Can’t whomever is trying to get Eden foods ban from the coop find a better foe than a local company who own 86,000 acres of organic farm land who are simply trying to defend their basic constitutional rights?

  46. Megan Turf
    Posted March 20, 2015 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Sorry, but no one is asking them to use the birth control. They don’t have to touch it, know about it, send it, come in contact with it, or anything. They’re “problem” is that they don’t like their employers using it. I still have a huge problem with an employer controlling an employee’s medical decisions. The Federal Government told insurance companies to cover birth control and for employers to give insurance. Don’t like it and you’re an employer? Then pay the fine and don’t give anyone anything. No one is shoving plan b down your throat. I don’t care what else they’re doing. I will never buy Eden again.

  47. maryd
    Posted March 20, 2015 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Too funny, if it wasn’t so sad…Democracy NOW and Toxic Hormones…I’ll take in you in turn.
    @DN: You talk about democracy, do you know anything about it. It involves a rule of law…due process. A coop is member owned and has every right to vote on an issue. I find it ironically hypocritical that you would support Democracy but not in this instance because you favor the company that is violating human rights of woman and families. The right to plan and decide to bear a child is paramount to women’s rights. It is THE most important issue women face their whole lives. This woman supports NOW and does not and will not eat Eden foods as long as this stance on contraception stands. I find it so hypocritical that same people who decried the Hobby Lobby decision defends Eden. Your threats of empty shelves are just that. Join the Supremes in taking away health care rights please…
    @TH: You sound like a right wing fundamentalist Christian imposing asinine views about reproductive health. Go ahead and use natural family planning methods. I am familiar with them as the mother of 5 and grandmother of 6. You know what they call practitioners of rhythm…mums and dads.

  48. Lynne
    Posted March 20, 2015 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I’ve never been pregnant (Thanks, oral contraceptives!) but based on what I have heard my pregnant friends say, it sure seems like pregnancy is harder on a body than the pill.

  49. Posted March 20, 2015 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    I called Eden Foods about this. They called me back and told me that the allegations against them are completely false. They sent me a copy of the letter they sent to YFC. It is in a format I can’t copy and paste here, so I don’t know how to share it. Why is everyone running with a topic that is incorrect? I am totally confused now.

  50. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 20, 2015 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Createharmony,

    In my opinion, we are seeing more of these divisive public/ political witch hunts as a by product of self-marketing social networks and moral purism. We are becoming caricatures with cartoon arguments. People are taking their non anonymous stands against their enemies because it is easy social networking “cha ching” and because self righteousness feels so good–it covers up the shame.

  51. Lynne
    Posted March 20, 2015 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Create Harmony, Are you saying that Eden foods *does* offer contraception and that they aren’t fighting it in court? That would be awesome because then the issue can be put to rest entirely.

  52. Posted March 20, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Mark, did you communicate directly with Eden Foods when writing this article? If not, it could be really helpful if you reached out to them, as we are getting two very different stories here and I don’t want decisions to be made on confusion. Also, we need to do some more research to see if there really are comparable products to Eden that our co-op can sell instead, as I don’t believe there are across the board. What other companies test their products for radiation coming from Fukushima? I just bought EdenSoy milk at the Co-op because it was the ONLY organic soymilk that is fortified with that much vitamin B12 that didn’t have some of the other weird ingredients in the other soymilks. IN response to the concerns about the democratic process at YFC, it is my understanding that those calling a special meeting and special vote for this can get a vote right from the floor at the meeting, where only a small fraction of co-op members are present. This is NOT democratic. A democratic process does not have voting that restricts access. What about people who cannot make the meeting at that exact time and exact place, for whatever reason, like work, school, family, disability, illness, etc. If there is to be a democratic vote on this issue, it needs to be a ballot sent to EVERY YFC member, not just those who can attend the meeting. Also, how can we apply standards to one company’s products and not all companies that we sell? A democratic process would look at every product the same way, not just the ones who have political groups lobbying against them.

  53. Posted March 20, 2015 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Lynne, I wish I could post the letter they forwarded to me. It is in a format that won’t copy and paste text here and I am not very tech savvy. I don’t really understand all the ins and outs of healthy insurance or the Affordable Care Act, so I can’t really answer your question knowledgeably. I will try to email Mark the email they sent me and maybe he can post it.

  54. Posted March 20, 2015 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    And, for the record, I am already trying to make arrangements to buy Eden Foods products elsewhere. I choose not to get in cars or get on public transportation (except in dire emergency – haven’t done so in a year – it greatly aggravates health conditions i have), so Ypsi Food Co-op is the only healthy grocery store I have access to in walking or biking distance from my house. I am requesting that DoortoDoorOrganics.com start carrying more EdenFoods products. Has everyone involved in trying to ban foods from my Co-op thought about how it will restrict healthy food access for people like me? PLEASE DON’T TAKE AWAY MY ACCESS TO EDEN FOODS!!!!! You can choose to not buy their products, but don’t make the choice for someone else. THAT IS NOT DEMOCRACY. That is fascism or communism or some ism we don’t want (I get my oppresssive society terms mixed up. smh).

  55. Posted March 20, 2015 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Lynne, I do know from what I have read that Eden does indeed offer the contraception to their employees. Mark has a link to their position in this article and it says so right there. They have not taken this away from their employees. I think there is a lot of confusion around this whole issue and people are running with it, unjustly. Also, according to the comment left by someone at PFC on this blog, only 4 coops in the country have banned Eden, not a whole bunch like this blog implies with the words “a number of co-ops” . Yes, it is a number. A very SMALL number, if Matthew Graff’s post above is correct. Sorry, Mark, I am certainly not trying to give you a hard time at all or be disrespectful, as I usually agree with you on most everything, but I just think maybe you jumped the gun writing this blog about Eden if you didn’t interview them too. I know that you were coming from the right place in your motivations, as you are trying to protect women’s rights, and, for that, I thank you deeply as many men don’t care about women as much as you. With that, I need to bow out of this entire issue as people have been really rude to me for my opinion and I just don’t need any grief.

  56. Posted March 20, 2015 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    And, whilst I wouldn’t eat them if you paid me (I am allergic to life-killing chemicals), I agree with you, Frosted Flakes. Social media has created a format for people to run with the herd mentally and RUN right over people. While it can do some incredible good to be able to organize and communicate like this, it can do some horrible damage too.

  57. Megan
    Posted March 20, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    CreateHarmony,

    Then they must have changed their mind. Because the CEO was DEFINITELY anti-birth control.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2014/07/22/eden-foods-to-grocers-stick-with-us-despite-birth-control-attack/

    http://www.salon.com/2013/04/15/eden_foods_ceo_digs_himself_deeper_in_birth_control_outrage/

    http://ncronline.org/news/politics/eden-foods-lawsuit-against-contraceptive-mandate-sparks-boycott

  58. kjc
    Posted March 20, 2015 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    ‘That is fascism or communism or some ism we don’t want (I get my oppresssive society terms mixed up. smh).”

    capitalism?

  59. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 20, 2015 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Yes. Eden Foods has been against including contraceptive and abortion services in their health care package–that is certain. I have not heard otherwise.

  60. Lynne
    Posted March 20, 2015 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I will admit that I am not passionate about this issue. I signed the petition to have this discussed because I feel it is worthy of discussion but I don’t care enough to actually go vote about it. I don’t buy Eden products though.

    However, one of the things I like about the coop is that it is democratic. It is democratic even if there is a requirement to turn up for the meeting to vote. It would, however, be appropriate for the coop to offer absentee ballots for those who can’t attend. I dont think they should be mailed out to everyone though. I suspect that many coop members don’t care that much one way or the other.

    I can say though that I have found that when I do get passionate about something, consumer organized boycotts which include pressuring businesses not to carry the products in question to be very satisfying. I have no problem with people trying to get the coop to stop carrying Eden products. I feel that is exactly what a responsible consumer must do. Sadly, when the law fails, about the only pressure that can be put on a company such as Eden is economic pressure.

    My dream though is to remove health care from employment. This is only one of many reasons why that would be a good idea.

    Also, fwiw, I did a little research and it does look like Eden foods still has a court case pending about this issue and if that is true, even if they are currently offering reproductive health care to their female employees, they are not off the hook at all.

  61. Posted March 21, 2015 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I’ve requested an interview with Michael Potter. I’ll let you know when/if I hear from him.

  62. createharmony
    Posted March 22, 2015 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Nevermind. I am not staying out of this. It is TOO IMPORTANT. First, Thanks so much for requesting the interview with Mr. Potter, Mark!! Next….. Ok, so the people interviewed for this blog state that there are comparable companies offering the same products as Eden. I do not believe this is true. One of the companies mentioned is Westbrae, that also has organic canned beans, etc. in cans that are BPA free. Whilst their cans may be BPA free, their product is not the same quality by any stretch of the imagination. Do you know who OWNS Westbrae? It’s Hain Celestial Corporation, who gave tons of money to block GMO labeling in California and, according to the article I am linking here: “Two sources report that the primary investors for Hain-Celestial are companies of extremely dubious consideration for our health: Phillip Morris, Monsanto, Citigroup, Exxon-Mobil, Wal-Mart and Lockheed Martin. (Farmwars and Home for Health)

    Hain-Celestial (owns these and other “organic” food companies”

    Earth’s Best
    Spectrum Organics
    Garden of Eatin’
    Casbah
    Rice Dream
    Soy Dream
    WestSoy
    TofuTown
    MaraNatha
    Mountain Sun
    Walnut Acres
    Fruiti di Bosco
    Health Valley
    Bearitos
    Bread Shop
    Celestial Seasonings
    (and also Westbrae, which was not on this list, but I looked at one of their cans at YFC two days ago, and it says “Division of Hain.”)

    Eden Foods uses OCIA (Organic Crop Improvement Association) to certify their organic products. OCIA is one of the oldest and most-trusted organic certifiers, and is one of the VERY FEW that are non-profit, thus assuring quality standards, not money standards. Hain (ehem Monsanto Marlboro) uses QAI, who has some of the least trusted standards and is FOR PROFIT.

    I can assure you that there are no replacements for Eden’s products that match the quality. The woman you interviewed clearly is not well informed about organic food and should not be making statements she has not thoroughly researched. Here is an article to look at when deciding the QUALITY of organic foods. Most companies that started out small and truly organic have been bought out by big ag: http://www.theorganicprepper.ca/blacklist-12-food-companies-to-avoid-and-95-sneaky-aliases-04102013

    And here is another: http://www.cornucopia.org/who-owns-organic/

    Don’t take away a company that provides extremely high quality foods from our Co-op. It would do much more harm than good. There are no equal quality replacements for their products and people who are allergic to life-killing chemicals will suffer. It is no one else’s right to restrict my access to high quality foods. And why are we just doing this to one company? No one will answer that question so far. Did you know that Country Life (supplement company we sell at YFC) is owned by very right wing people. Why isn’t anyone trying to ban them? And Westbrae’s owner takes donations from MOnsanto? Isn’t that a bigger problem than the issue people have with Eden? Seriously, I am mortified that this is happening. Capitalism and democracy are based on freedom of choice. Blocking people from buying one company when you don’t apply the same standards to every company is very, very far from democracy. HELP!!!!!!

  63. createharmony
    Posted March 22, 2015 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Muir Glen was also given as a comparable product to Eden Foods. Muir Glen is owned by General Mills, who gave almost a million dollars to block GMO labeling in California. A lot of their food companies use very questionable ingredients and contain GMOs. http://foodbabe.com/2014/09/17/general-mills-or-generally-toxic-after-you-see-this-product-i-know-which-one-youll-choose/

  64. createharmony
    Posted March 22, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Why don’t we let our General Manager and Board of Directors make the decision on whether or not letting customers “vote with their dollars” about Eden, like the Co-op in Seattle? Georgina is quick to say she can’t give stats about Eden products, but she seems to know best about what approach is right for our coop? This seems very short-sighted and, frankly, arrogant. It seems that she has another agenda that does not benefit all of the members of our Co-op. Our Board and GM would indeed prefer to let our members vote with their dollars, as they have stated that exactly. Let them say what is best for our co-op, since they know the finances a whole lot better.

  65. createharmony
    Posted March 22, 2015 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Also, I have talked to many people who shop at YFC that do not wish to stop buying Eden Foods products, so I can ASSURE you that we will not be stuck with an overstock of products if we choose to let people decide with their money, not with a product ban. I think I am going to start a petition to ban groups from banning one product without applying the same standards to all products and get it on the same ballot.

  66. createharmony
    Posted March 22, 2015 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Here’s some more info on who owns who….. The jist is that a lot of the food we sell at the Co-op is owned by MOnsanto, Mcdonalds, Dow Chemical, Merck, Dupont, Walmart and Exxon Mobil, to name the big ones. Eden Foods isn’t. Please don’t take one of the best companies out of our Co-op! I need access!!!!
    This is from: http://www.homeforhealth.net/who-owns-organic-food-brands.html
    “I’ve been hearing a lot of muttering about “big organics” — that’s usually code for
    Wal-Mart — and “Chinese organics” — usually used as a short-form expression to
    mean the opposite of locally grown organics.

    What I’ve not been hearing much about is the corporate ownership of many
    familiar American organic brands. So I was fascinated to see Michigan State
    University Assistant Professor Phil Howard’s chart of organics ownership.
    Howard is in the department of community, agriculture, recreation and resource
    studies.

    Until 2005, Heinz appears to have had the most holdings. The 24th largest food
    processor, Heinz has a stake in Hain Celestial Group, the 85th largest food
    processor. Hain Celestial, in turn, owns the following brands: Millina’s Finest,
    Fruitti di Bosca, Walnut Acres, Mountain Sun, ShariAnn’s, Tofu Town, Westbrae,
    Bearitos, Westsoy, Little Bear, Celestial Seasonings, Imagine/Rice Dream/Soy
    Dream, Breadshop, Casbah, Health Valley, Arrowhead Mills, DeBole’s, Garden
    of Eatin’, Spectrum Organics, Nile Spice and Earth’s Best. According to research
    by Paul Glover and Carole Resnick of the Greenstar Food Co-op in Ithaca, N.Y.,
    Hain’s largest investors include Philip Morris, Monsanto, Citigroup, Exxon-Mobil,
    Wal-Mart and Lockheed Martin.

    Here are the owners of the other brands Howard studied:

    The number in parentheses is the company’s rank in North American food sales.

    Kraft (No. 2): Boca Foods, Back to Nature. Kraft is owned by Phillip Morris.
    Pepsi (No. 3): Naked Juice
    Dean Foods (No. 6): Alta Dena, Horizon, The Organic Cow of Vermont. Glover
    and Resnick say that Dean Foods main investors include Microsoft, General
    Electric, Citigroup, Pfizer, Philip Morris, Exxon-Mobil, Coca Cola, Wal-Mart,
    PepsiCo and Home Depot
    General Mills (No. 7): Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen. Glover and Resnick report
    that General Mills’ stockholders include Philip Morris, Exxon-Mobil, General
    Electric, Chevron, Nike, McDonald’s, Monsanto, Dupont, Dow Chemical and
    Pepsico
    ConAgra (No. 9): Lightlife
    Kellogg (No. 14): Kashi, Morningstar Farms/Natural Touch
    Coca-Cola (No. 15): Odwalla
    Cargill (No. 19): French Meadow
    M & M Mars (No. 21): Seeds of Change
    Hershey Foods (No. 23): Dagoba

    There are a couple of companies on that list whose business practices I don’t
    support philosophically, and knowing the ownership of the brands helps me make
    better-informed buying decisions. – Now you can too.

    http://leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com/thestew/2007/07/who-ownsorgani.
    html#more”

    There are no replacements for Eden’s food that are of equal quality. Please stop trying to remove them from my Co-op!!!!! It is not your place to do so. It will harm the co-op and its patrons. If you want to fight something, let’s talk about Monsanto. Would you seriously rather carry their products???

  67. monica shmonica
    Posted March 23, 2015 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    The Potters state “Since the inception of the Affordable Care Act all employees have all coverages required by the act, even those who do not want it.”

    They also state that it is their intention to continue in this manner, no changes are planned.

    Thank you createharmony for some real information on the state of co-op food suppliers. There maybe other companies that offer bpa free etc and some of what eden has offered however, Eden blazed the trail and we’d be in a sorry state without them food wise.

    I for one, from now on, regardless of vote, will do my very best to buy any and all Eden products first for my food. What a loyal food community…. just hang them out to dry like that because NOW has come to town. I’ve been a progressive and a feminist my entire life, but I also care about the state of food, and I’m embarrassed to see my own side at work here.

    Geez Louise, NOW doesn’t care about Michigan, Michigan Employees and farmers and job losses. There has been so much misinformation posted in this thread and in the blog that its humbling. These are good Michigan people, (not perfect), it has been a GREAT Michigan company employing many good folks, neighbors, co-op members… and farmers. Lets not jump on a band wagon because some key buttons were pushed.

  68. Lynne
    Posted March 24, 2015 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    CreateHarmony, I probably should just keep quiet but your attitude is really pushing some buttons for me. In particular, the idea you seem to have that the membership of the coop doesn’t have the right to petition the board to remove products for political reasons. They do! That is what it means to have a membership controlled coop. The membership has control! If a majority of members or a majority of members who care enough to vote want those products removed, it *is* their place to do it. Your place is to try to convince a majority to keep Eden and trust me, your approach isn’t working with me. If anything, it is annoying me to the point where if this comes to a vote, I might get off my butt and go vote to ban Eden just because of what you’ve said here. Maybe being mean to those who have good reasons to want Eden banned makes you feel better but I can’t see how it furthers your cause.

    Monica, I resent the idea that people who are passionate about women’s rights are hanging a good company out to dry. One could just as easily say that those who continue to buy Eden foods are hanging a woman’s right to be considered legally equal out to dry. Or maybe you just prioritize food issues over reproductive ones? That is ok but to accuse those who have a slightly different priority of ill behavior doesn’t seem fair.

  69. Ann
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    FYI – we’ve initiated a petition drive to get the Eden Foods issue on the ballot for People’s Food Coop member-owners. The Board had voted in September 2014 to put it on the annual ballot (April 2015), and then rescinded that decision at their January 2015 meeting, when, of course, none of the boycott supporters were present. This is an official petition, registered with the Coop, that, if successful, will put the issue on the ballot.

    Sign here:
    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ballot-initiative-to-boycott-eden-foods-products

  70. Cheryl Farmer by proxy
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Dear Members of the Ypsilanti Food Co-op Board, 

    On behalf of the Board and membership of Washtenaw NOW, I would like to thank you for the open and democratic way in which you addressed our concerns about Eden Foods. 

    We were, and are, alarmed by the way in which women’s reproductive rights have been eroded over the past few decades by state legislatures and the courts.  We were particularly unhappy about local Eden Foods CEO Michael Potter’s decision to pursue a “Hobby Lobby” style claim that continuing to provide birth control as a part of their employee health plan somehow infringed on corporate religious rights.  For that reason, some of our members circulated petitions to appeal to the Boards of both the Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor Co-ops to consider a boycott of Eden Foods.   

    At the People’s Food Co-op, the Board disapproved of the boycott concept and basically shut down the process of involving members in the decision.  As a result, quite a few members left.    

    The Ypsilanti Food Co-op, on the other hand, accepted the petition and addressed the concerns expressed therein in a most thoughtful and democratic way – in keeping with its by-laws statement:  2.3. The co-op views itself as part of a larger social and political movement directed toward creating a society which holds the welfare of all human beings as an important principle.  We appreciate that a Food Ethics Committee was formed, that a forum was held to present the pro and con boycott positions, and that the process concluded with a vote of the membership. 

    Although Washtenaw NOW was disappointed with the outcome of the vote, we are pleased with the process – especially the creation of a standing committee to address food-related ethical and social justice issues in the future.  We are also encouraged by the realization that all four members of the Co-op panel on the boycott self-identified as feminists!  Thank you to all involved.

    Best wishes,
    Cheryl Farmer MD, President
    Washtenaw NOW

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