Whole Food’s John Mackey on Business, Sustainability

The Way We Eat
The Way We Eat

Today, I listened to an interview on NPR with John Mackey, co-CEO of the Whole Foods grocery chain.  Until this interview, my only knowledge of him was through reading one particular book, Singer/Mason’s The Way We Eat:  Why Our Food Choices Matter, in Chapter 12, Eating Out and Eating In, Ethically.  I’ve been reading it since September, and learned much about his philosophy there.

(With a life and four kids, it takes me forever to get through a book, and I’m reading three at a time.)

Here is an excerpt from today’s radio piece:

MACKEY:  We’re dealing with serious food addictions. People in America are addicted to sugar. They’re addicted to fat, and they’re addicted to salt. And people don’t feel satisfied with their food if they’re not getting heavy doses of that. So the food addictions are what’s holding us back, primarily, and ignorance. But part of that ignorance is deliberate. People don’t want to know.

INSKEEP: People don’t want to know.

MACKEY: They don’t want to know, because it would mean they have to change the way they eat. And most people think that they’ll lose all pleasure. Food is intensely pleasurable, and people are afraid that if they change the way they eat, they’ll stop having pleasure. It’s not true that whatever food that you learn to eat, you begin to enjoy it.

I have more pleasure eating today than I used to when I ate an unhealthy diet. I thought it was going to be involving sacrifice. It’s not true, but that’s what holds most people back from breaking out of their dietary addictions.

If you have 7-to-15 minutes to spare, listen to the 1-17-2013 interview (Part 2) and the previous 1-16-2013 interview (Part 1) where he discusses his views on capitalism, sustainability, veganism, and the standard American diet.

Though our family strives to reward business doing the right thing by our planet, our Whole Foods is a long painful drive to get to.  Our local grocer (a couple of miles away) may not be sustainable in all that it carries (we linger in the produce and vegan sections), but they do offer a varied selection of vegan, fresh, and organic items.  It helps also that I have a relationship with a local farmer for seasonal and organically-grown fresh veggies — I posted about it some time back on my other blog.

However infrequent my family shops at Whole Foods there are a few things they carry which I do not care to live without.  Among them, we regularly stock up on these pantry items:

  • Pomona’s pectin (vegan gelling agent, for making nut cheese)
  • organic dried soy beans (for making tofu)
  • organic chick peas (for making dinner and hummus)
  • nutritional yeast (just delicious!)
  • vegan macaroons (a real treat)

Given my own personal difficulties with such, it’s comforting to hear from a man such as Mackey — with his own Whole Food chains in every major city of the country — that it’s not just me who has a terrible time dining out as a vegan.

Wake up, America.


4 thoughts on “Whole Food’s John Mackey on Business, Sustainability

  1. His comments are so true! People think that by moving to a healthier diet that they have to make huge sacrifices! I used to rotate 10-12 meals in my house before we went plant based. Now we eat so much more variety than we ever used to and try a new recipe nearly every day. This girl is not deprived 🙂


    1. Us too. We have such variety here. And my grocery bill is way less without meat and dairy. Alas, I don’t think the audio links work anymore. (Must find out why…). He is no doubt a thoughtful man, if not a successful businessman.

      Now, off to that laksa recipe that has haunted my day. See if you can guess what we’ll be dining on tomorrow?


      1. I’m sad to say my grocery bill is more, but we eat a lot of organic produce whereas before, I don’t think our diet was terrible, but not anywhere near the standard it is now.


      2. We’re fortunate to get to pick local produce nearby. That, and eat from my yard. It does help with the bill. I agree, though, our standards way have improved since we became vegan. My kids requested bean burgers sweet potato fries last night for dinner. No prob. HA!


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