My letter to Wegmans

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Hello.

I’ve been a customer of the Dulles, VA Wegmans store for several years now. I enjoy the selection of foods that you offer, particularly with regards to produce and specialty convenience foods. I’ve spread the word about Wegmans and have turned a number of people onto the store and they’ve become loyal customers as well.

However, last year, when Compassionate Consumers released their video shot inside your egg farm, I was disheartened. I wasn’t necessarily surprised at what I saw, since these types of atrocities happen every day at factory farms around the world. Rather, I was disheartened and embarrassed by your public response to the footage. Rather than acknowledge there was a problem, you used crafty language to insinuate (with absolutely no evidence) that some of the footage wasn’t shot at your facility. Then you mentioned the concern about the health risk when it’s been shown that factory farmed chicken and eggs are the reason that avian flu has spread so quickly in the first place.

That said, I continued to shop at your store, thinking that you’d come around and would work to make changes like Trader Joe’s and other similar companies. (You may say that you’re “full-service supermarket, not a specialty food store,” but come on… regular supermarkets don’t develop cult followings.)

But with the most recent news of Adam Durand’s sentencing, I can no longer spend money at your store in good conscience. Adam admitted to the misdemeanor he was charged with, but despite the fact he had no previous record, the judge saw fit to comply with your request for a jail sentence. A jail sentence. For a guy who helped sick and dying birds that your egg farm wouldn’t.

I spent a couple hundred dollars a month at Wegmans purchasing produce, vegan convenience foods, and pet supplies. Because of your reaction to the Compassionate Consumers’ movie and your pushing for a jail sentence of Adam Durand, I’m hereby boycotting your store. The money I would have spent at your store will instead go to smaller, local health food stores and to Adam Durand’s defense fund. I’ve also taken time to spread the word on vegblog.org and will be posting a copy of this letter there, as well.

I hope that you reconsider your stance and work to make a change. You have it within your power to do so. You’re recognized as a great place to work for your human employees. Why not try and make it a little less painful for your non-human employees as well?

… Ryan A. MacMichael
Virginia

links for 2006-06-13

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links for 2006-06-08

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CSPI vs Palm Oil

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The Center for Science in the Public Interest (best known as “those guys that fought to get trans fat listed on nutritional labels”) publish a newsletter called Nutrition Action. It’s a good read with solid scientific information about diet and health, often debunking or questioning claims behind supplements. It’s far from vegan, as they are often recommending dairy and meat, but that sort of makes sense since they’re focused solely on health. They never speak against a vegan diet, but I suppose they know their readership is primarily non-vegetarian.

However, in May 2006 I was very surprised to see a full-page ad for their campaign against palm oil. Palm oil is very prevalent in processed foods and isn’t exactly healthy, so it’s not unusual that they’re speaking out against it, but what surprised me is the angle they’re taking. Their main ad reads “DYING FOR A COOKIE?” and underneath says, “Palm oil production is killing orangutans and other endangered wildlife.” Their full report talks about palm oil’s detrimental effect on health, the environment, and wildlife. This is the first time that I can remember that the CSPI has made note of the animal suffering associated with any food product.

One danger they note is that with the new trans fat designation on nutrition labels, many companies are looking to switch away from partially hydrogenated oils. The danger is that they might move to palm oil.

If companies replaced the 2.5 billion pounds of partially hydrogenated oil used annually in foods needing a solid fat with palm oil, U.S. palm oil imports would triple over the 2003 level. Such an increase would require about 1,240 square miles of new oil palm plantations—an area that represents rainforest habitat for up to 65 Sumatran rhinos, 54 elephant families, 65 Sumatran tigers, and 2,500 orangutans.

Good job, CSPI. Let’s see more of it in the future and it wouldn’t kill you to start mentioning vegetarian diets a bit more, would it?