Eden Cast Out: Progressives Take Aim At A Traditional Organic Food Company

Fr. Benedict Kiely Father Bendict Kiely, a native of England, is a Catholic priest. He is a columnist for the international magazine of Catholic Culture, ‘The Saint Austin Review,’ and former columnist for the national English Catholic weekly, ‘The Catholic Times.’
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There is nothing quite so intolerant as a vegan, Buddhist, Gaia-loving, health food store owner. When a private, family-run company, in business for more than forty years, giving regular and consistent employment, decides it does not want the government forcing it to provide birth control for its employees, something everyone can find extremely easily and cheaply, the OM-chanting Ayurveda practitioners, in a fit of righteous indignation – banish the products of the company that fails to meet the standard of political correctness from the shelves – thus putting both the family business, and their workers, in peril.

Eden Foods is now being shunned because it objected to the HHS mandate. This is a curious habit, at one time suggested by St. Paul for aberrant Christians, but now enjoying a new application. A number of highly influential health food stores across the country have decreed that the products of the company are unworthy to be on their shelves: they reek of conservative, Christian contamination. Those who object to the water-boarding of leeks and spinach are, it seems, quite unable to contemplate the fact that a private business might have the right to decide to follow the religious convictions of its owners. If, for example, the Catholic owner of Eden Foods had denied the life-giving treatment of a blood transfusion to his employees (something which could not happen anyway), one could see that the customer – the customer – might have the right, possibly even the duty, to choose to buy a different product – but orange-flavored Trojans and the Pill?

Eden Foods is the oldest independent organic health food producer in the United States. It directly supports three hundred and seventy farms and employs over one hundred people. Yet, according to Kirsten Moore, the director of a Madison, Wisconsin, Health food store, Eden Foods decision not to be forced by the government to violate the conscience of its owners allows “personal values to get in the way of the common ground you share with your diverse array of customers.”

It is so refreshing to live in a land where the “personal values” of the owners of a family business, which happen to be Judeo-Christian values, the values that founded and sustained the greatest civilization the world has ever known, can now, for failing to give away free condoms, mean that the farms who depend on this business – the hundreds of families and hard-working Americans – will probably end up claiming that other great gift of the government, apart from free contraception — unemployment checks.

This extreme intolerance, which tolerates all opinions and expressions except those of orthodox Christianity, is, perhaps, the greatest threat to liberty within the United States. From without, the forces of the “caliphate” butcher and decapitate those who disagree with their interpretation of the holy book. From within – the “enemy within,” as Margaret Thatcher once described those who nearly destroyed Britain in the early years of her premiership — their evil twin, virulent secular liberalism, separated at birth but still recognizable as the ugly sister who was never taken to the prom, imposes its own version of ‘sharia,’ attempting to ban soda in New York City, creating the new mortal sin of the “carbon footprint,” and enforcing the economic or social decapitation of those who fail to bow before the new American idol of political correctness.

There is, at least at the moment — until they too are shunned for their failure to observe liberal sharia – one voice of sanity which sounds peculiarly sensible and democratic, surely not long for this world. It is the voice of Whole Foods, which is the largest national supplier of Eden Foods products. According to a report in Forbes, Whole Foods will continue to stock Eden Foods products because “shoppers have every right to vote with their dollars.”

G. K. Chesterton wrote, more than eighty years ago, of a “new kind of narrowness, which exists especially in those who boast of breadth.” That narrowness, which masquerades as tolerance, forces the removal of a CEO who expresses, in his private life and exercising his democratic right, that marriage is between and a man and a woman; it calls “hate speech” the proclamation of the Christian Gospel, and removes Garbanzo beans from shop shelves for failure to bow to the zeitgeist. It is true that, in theory, there is still a right to freedom of speech – it is true that, so far, no one is being imprisoned or suffering an even worse fate for the crime of secular heterodoxy. But don’t try and run a family food business with Christian principles – it will get you thrown out of the new Garden of Eden.