Whole Foods: Can We Sustain Trickle Down Organics

Whole Foods LondonWhole Foods LondonThe Brits have never been known for their culinary instincts, but Whole Foods is putting this to the test. The mega retailer opened its doors last week to lots of eager consumers and a flood of press. Everyone has a point of view of Whole Foods’ impact on the ethical consumer, true level of sustainability and “Whole Paycheck” pricing. The big question is how Whole Foods will fare in a country where the standard dietary guidelines of meat and two veg translate to potatoes with potatoes on the side.

In March, I wrote Whole Foods would usher in “trickle-down organics”. By emphasizing the luxury in eco luxury, Whole Foods would only encourage growth in the growing organics sections of Marks and Spenser, Tesco and Sainsbury. Within public dialog, we are seeing this. However, it’s not necessarily being seen as an elevation of non-ethical supermarkets. As one reporter from the Times pointed out, it’s more about the downfall of Whole Foods and other social entrepreneurs:

But however socially responsible these entrepreneurs remain as individuals, we can’t pretend that, once a critical mass has been reached, and they go public, that their companies are that different from say, Wal-Mart or Tesco (especially now that Sir Terry (Leahy) is so competitive, I mean so green, that he is carbon-labelling and has copyrighted the Tesco Wholefoods brand).

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