Whole Foods CEO Being A Dick Again

Whole Foods is like the Republican jam band aficionado of grocery stores. They are an absurdly expensive, union-busting, sexual-harassment-complaint-ignoring company hiding underneath a mountain of granola, tie dye and Tofuti cuties. They are gross and people only shop there in order to say that they shop there, because they are so incredibly boring that they think it's some kind of mark in their "hip and with it" column.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is an absolute piece of shit. Actually, you should already know that, because he has been an absolute piece of shit for quite some time now, including when he recently actually emailed all Whole Foods employees to recommend that they, out of the kindness of their hearts, donate their paid time off to staffers who are sick with COVID-19, instead of just giving the staffers who were sick with COVID-19 paid time off. And he's been terrible for a really, really long time now.

In a recent interview on the Freakonomics podcast, Mackey, a noted fan of Ayn Rand, shared his view that the best solution to America's healthcare problem — in this, the middle of a freaking pandemic — was for people to simply not "need" health care in the first place.


"I mean, honestly, we talk about health care. The best solution is not to need health care," Mackey told Freakonomics Radio host Stephen Dubner in an episode released on Nov. 4.

"The best solution is to change the way people eat, the way they live, the lifestyle, and diet," Mackey says. "There's no reason why people shouldn't be healthy and have a longer health span. A bunch of drugs is not going to solve the problem."

Sure, and the best way to solve world hunger is for people to not need to eat. It's all very simple.

People — at least until we are all converted into Cybermen — are always going to need health care. There is no amount of exercise or healthy eating that is going to change that, because neither of those things is the source of all health problems. In fact, it is entirely possible for exercise or healthy eating to be the cause of a health problem. One could injure themselves in a Zumba class and need medical attention. One could get a carrot stuck up their nose or lose their fingers in a tragic protein smoothie related accident. The possibilities, unfortunately, are endless.

Do people sometimes get sick or injured as a result of their own actions? Sure! That doesn't mean they don't deserve health care.

And you know what? Drugs actually do solve problems. Lots of them! That is why they exist. You get stung by bees and you're allergic to bees, you need an Epi-pen, not a yoga class, or you're gonna end up dead, in a casket, with Vada Sultenfuss crying about how you can't see without your glasses. People aren't out there taking insulin for funsies. I did not take a sinus pill because I'm just too lazy to perform sinus surgery on myself.

Here is where you know he's really stupid.

Americans are not taking as good care of their own bodies as they ought to be, Mackey says: "71% of Americans are overweight and 42.5% are obese. Clearly, we're making bad choices in the way we eat," he says. "It's not a sustainable path. And so, I'm calling it out."

Oh wow, so incredibly brave of him to be the first person ever to be a dick about people's weight "out of concern for their health." Except for the fact that there are a whole lot of skinny people who aren't in such great shape either, health wise, and a lot of "overweight" people who are healthier than skinny people. Duh.


People in France, the subject of many diet books about how to be effortlessly thin, have universal health care. People in Italy have a much longer life expectancy than Americans do — and they smoke, drink and eat more carbs than Americans do — and they have an awesome universal health care system.

Oh! And Americans, by the way, actually spend significantly more time exercising than people in other countries do.

Via Huffington Post:

Results showed that Americans lead the fitness league, exercising 135 days a year compared with a global average of 112, while Britons exercise an average of just 108 days a year. Italians exercise just 96 days a year, while the Dutch exercise 93 days a year.

Perhaps our issue isn't so much "not exercising enough" or not spending $89,000 a week on food from Whole Foods, but something else entirely. Perhaps we would be healthier if we didn't have to live with the stress of knowing that an unexpected injury or illness could completely fuck us up for life financially if our health insurance decided that they didn't want to cover it. Stress, they say, is the big killer.

I would bet you that any country John Mackey could point to where he thinks people are thinner or healthier or better at eating the right foods than Americans are also has universal health care. This is a very easy bet to win because we're basically the only developed nation on earth that has to live like this.

As CNBC noted, this is not the first time Mackey has flown this terrible idea on out there:

In 2009, he penned a piece for the Wall Street Journal along the same ilk, "The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare," in which he advocated for less government control of health care in the United States.

"This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for his or her own health," Mackey wrote. "We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health."

Someday, John Mackey is going to walk into traffic, and I hope that someone, instead of calling an ambulance, simply hands him a lovely $75 bouquet of organic kale as he is bleeding out in the street.

It would be awesome if Mackey were some kind of an outlier, but really — he's just saying the quiet part out loud. This is how many people think and that is why, really, we have to keep living like this. It's this very American, very Puritan idea that if something bad happens to people, it is due to some kind of moral failure/failure to "take personal responsibility" on their part. And if others do something to prevent that bad thing from happening or to ameliorate the consequences ... well the person the bad thing happened to is just never going to learn their lesson.

And that's something that is culturally ingrained in us in so many ways and on so, so many levels. It's an attitude that is responsible for practically every crap thing that goes on this country. It's why people who are horrified by the idea of "socialized medicine" have often been truly surprised when I tell them that victims of mass shootings often go broke paying for their own medical care, even if they have insurance.

It's a lot easier to be okay with our health care situation — not just the fact that not everyone has it, but that even those who do have it are subject to the whims of health insurance companies, who would not be in business if they did not regularly say "no" to people who need coverage — if you think health and "personal responsibility" are intrinsically linked. They're not.

John Mackey has earned a whole lot of money scamming rich, socially insecure people. He is an expert at that. He is not an actual health expert and he is certainly not an expert on medical care or health care beyond selling people very expensive tofu. Perhaps he should stay in that lane.


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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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