Tag Archives: Whole Foods

Meat Labels Hope to Lure the Sensitive Carnivore

I know that Whole Foods gets a fair amount of criticism (sometimes rightly so) but can anyone point me to any other supermarket chain that does things like this:

Whole Foods Market is preparing to roll out a line of meat that will carry labels saying animal compassionate, indicating the animals were raised in a humane manner until they were slaughtered.

The grocery chains decision to use the new labels comes as a growing number of retailers are making similar animal-welfare claims on meat and egg packaging, including free farmed, certified humane, cage free and free range.

It’s a solution that allows the animal right folks to educate the masses, yet does so without banning anything.

Let’s hope that these labels actually have some weight to them, unlike the nearly meaningless phrase “Free Range Chickens” found on your egg carton.

Thanks Jack!

Technorati Tags: Whole Foods, Animal Welfare


More on Lobsters and Whole Foods

Snappy the Clam has some problems with my previous post. They write:

Recent information from Norwegian research has shown that Lobsters do not feel pain. Bob Bayer, who heads the Lobster Institute and is a University of Maine professor, has said that “They have no brain, he said. Therefore, they do not feel pain. It’s a judgment based on the anatomy of the nervous system. No brain (means) a lack of processing system”.

As this Norwegian report has been around since a least Feburary of 2005, Whole Foods has most likely been aware of it. So what other motivation could they possibly have in discontinuing lobster sales?

More foodie justification. In the first place, this is one study out of Norway. Not a lot of corroboration.

Second, with regard to Mr. Bayer. He is indeed a professor at the University of Maine. However, rather than being the professor of marine biology you might expect to have authority in this area, he is a professor of nutrition and food science. Secondly, that Lobster Institute he’s the director of? Here’s its mission, from the Lobster Institute website:
Located at The University of Maine, the Lobster Institute is the only organization of it kind. It was founded jointly by Maine’s lobster industry associations and the University – and quickly spread to be an international presence. We now work for and with lobstermen and all sectors of the lobster industry from Long Island Sound to Newfoundland.

I have a couple of points to make here in response…

  1. The point of the post was not to debate whether lobsters feel pain. The point was to explore other possibilities for Whole Foods decision, aside from the quite questionable and quite possibly hypocritical one of “It’s inhumane to lobsters”.
  2. The mission statement of the Lobster Institute is incorrectly quoted by Snappy.Their mission statement is actually:

    The Lobster Institute, with guidance and involvement from fishermen and all constituents within the lobster industry, and with both a community and global perspective, conducts and provides for research and educational outreach focused on protecting, conserving, and enhancing lobsters and lobstering as an industry…and as a way of life.

    We feel this mission can best be accomplished by an independent, non-political research and education-based organization – working in cooperation with a knowledgeable and involved public, harvesters, industry, environmental organizations, management agencies, and research community; and with the necessary resources to provide for long-term excellence and the freedom to work creatively and in a timely manner to fulfill its goals and objectives.

You can find the Lobster Institute’s mission statement here.

Snappy also would like more than one study to corroborate the Norwegian study. Although I could not find additional reports, I was able to find other scientists view on the subject:

Peter Fraser, a marine biologist at the University of Aberdeen was interviewed by the UK Guardian on the Norwegian report and was on the record as saying “crabs and lobsters have only about 100,000 neurons, compared with 100bn in people and other vertebrates. While this allows them to react to threatening stimuli, he said there is no evidence they feel pain.”

Eric H. Chudler, Director of Education and Outreach for the University of Washington Engineered Biomaterials has written “… the part of the brain responsible for the conscious perception and emotional significance of pain, the cerebral cortex, is absent in the lobster. Therefore, in my opinion, it is very unlikely that lobsters experience pain in the same way as humans.”

Currently, there is very little in the way of proof whether lobsters feel pain, and if they do, to what extent.

But again, that wasn’t the point of my initial post. My point was that Whole Foods was taking credit for political correctness, when in fact, there’s some questions surrounding their motivations in removing the lobster tanks. I’m not the only one who has such questions. Trevor Corson, writer of “The Secret Life of Lobsters” writes the following paragraph in an article for the Boston Globe Magazine:

In 2005, the Maine Lobster Promotional Council commissioned a survey on people’s attitudes toward lobster. Only 15 percent of Americans, mostly in the Northeast, qualified as “traditionalistsˮ who wanted their lobsters alive. An equally small number, just 13 percent, objected to the retail sale of live lobsters for reasons of cruelty. For Whole Foods, the smart business decision is to target the silent majority—the 50 percent or so of Americans who would love to buy fresh lobster if only it were easier to prepare.

Mr. Corson believes that the decision was made, not out of altruism to lobsters (or even for money, as I surmised), but rather to make the product more accessible to their customer.

And how does Whole Food intend on providing fresh lobster meat without putting the consumer in the position of killing the lobster? According to Mr. Corson, by using a machine called the Avure HPP. Here’s how it works:

The animals are locked inside the tube, alive, and the pumps whir and the water pressure is compressed around the lobsters to three times the deepest trenches in the ocean. The lobsters die, of course — just think what the pressure on your ears is like when you dive a few feet underwater.

At the same time, all the muscle flesh inside the lobsters conveniently separates from the shell. For the first time in human history, people have finally devised way to extract the meat of a lobster without cooking it.

For a company claiming that the lobster decision was based on moral issues, I find it peculiar that they would use a machine that crushes a live lobster with water, while at the same time stripping the shell away from their body.

Technorati Tags: food, lobsters, Whole Foods


The Lobster Misdirection

By now I am sure that many of you have heard that Whole Foods is no longer going to see live lobsters. Their stated reason is that it’s unethical to keep them out of their environment for an extended length of time.

And yet…something doesn’t sound right about this. To me, this is a decision based off of the worst of information, information that comes from us anthropomorphizing an animal.

Recent information from Norwegian research has shown that Lobsters do not feel pain. Bob Bayer, who heads the Lobster Institute and is a University of Maine professor, has said that “They have no brain, he said. Therefore, they do not feel pain. It’s a judgment based on the anatomy of the nervous system. No brain (means) a lack of processing system”.

As this Norwegian report has been around since a least Feburary of 2005, Whole Foods has most likely been aware of it. So what other motivation could they possibly have in discontinuing lobster sales?

Well, possibly profit margins for one. The sale and upkeep of the lobster tank would eat into the cost of what is arguably a low turnover item. Plus the tanks take up valuable real estate in a grocery store, space that can be used to sell items with larger margins and turn over in sales quicker. The one thing grocery stores are accutely aware of is how much money a foot of space can bring into the store on a daily, quarterly and yearly basis.

Considering the fact that lobsters are still going to be sold in Whole Foods, most likely flash frozen along with hundreds of other packed together brethern. And considering that it will be most likely fish that takes over the space left empty by the departed tanks, fish that are killed by suffocation and in some instances gutted and bled whilst still alive, it’s hard for me to swallow this “ethical treatment of lobsters” argument.

tags technorati : Whole Foods Lobster Food


Michael Pollan and Whole Foods

First, Michael Pollan writes a book marginally critical of Whole Foods.

Next, John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, responds to Mr. Pollan on their blog.

And now, Michael Pollan responds to Mr. Mackey on his own blog.

Personally, I’m glad both of them are willing to discuss their agreements and disagreements in such a public way.

tags technorati : food Michael Pollan Whole Foods The Ominvore’s Dilemma


Whole Foods responds to “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”

It’s an interesting read if you’re into that kind of stuff.


Whole Foods – Not gettin’ the Love

Shorter Slashfood:

Slashfood: Why don’t you sell our favorite Root Beer?

Whole Foods: Because your root beer sucks.

Slashfood: Hmmph. You’re pretentious!

Whole Foods: (counting their $85 Million profit) Yeah, we get that a lot.

Technorati Tags: Food and Drink, Whole Foods, Supermarkets


Whole Foods Blogging

Hmmm… It seems as if the CEO of Whole Foods, one John Mackey, is blogging.

’tis a bit lacking in content tho’

Technorati Tags: Whole Foods, Supermarkets, Blogging, John Mackey