Opinion

FoodPolitik: Food activists’ circular firing squads

This may — underline “may” — be a winning strategy in the short-term. But in the long run, profit margins on cage-free eggs will creep down closer to those of regular eggs. And the whole industry will be left more vulnerable to vegan-promotion organizations like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), whose foot in the door will eventually become two feet, and then a leg.

For the uninitiated, an HSUS vice president admitted a few years ago that her organization’s goal was to “get rid of the entire [animal agriculture] industry” by “promoting veganism.”

She now runs the “Global Animal Partnership,” which Whole Foods created to legitimize its feel-good animal welfare niche marketing and help it cling to its elite status.

Whole Foods, of course, is the paragon of “progressive” food. But it still has circular firing squad problems.

Anti-biotechnology activists now claim that many products in Whole Foods stores are “contaminated” with genetically modified organisms. This might be technically true, but GMOs are harmless. Americans have been eating them for 15 years without credible evidence of any health risks.

Ultimately, Whole Foods’ purer-than-thou positioning hasn’t insulated it from pitchfork-wielding ideologues. The self-proclaimed “Millions Against Monsanto” movement even hints that an organized boycott of Whole Foods could come as soon as October.

Conventional wisdom in Washington holds that if an opponent wants to hang himself, you should give him some rope. When annoying “foodie” factions publicly bicker over who’s the most gastronomically chaste, sometimes the best thing to do is grab some non-organic popcorn and watch the fireworks.

Rick Berman is President of the public affairs firm Berman and Company. He has worked extensively in the food and beverage industries for the past 30 years. To learn more, visit www.BermanCo.com.