Whole Foods, Capitalism, and My Inner Hippie

By Jedediah Bila

Anyone who knows me professionally is well aware that I’m a free-market capitalist. Anyone who knows me personally is also aware that I’m an organic food junkie and Whole Foods enthusiast. Even my book features escapades that involve my favorite supermarket chain, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that when planning a visit to friends in other states, the first question I usually ask is “Do you guys have a Whole Foods nearby?”

So yes, I like my organic produce, my veggie smoothies, my agave-sweetened oat cookies, and my freshly-baked whole wheat bread. And for that I’ve been labeled a hippie, a closet lefty, you name it. Confident in my affection for capitalism, I’ve even tossed a comedic spin on the whole hippie label with a #innerhippie Twitter hashtag when I venture out for some organic green juice or other healthy food/drink combo I’m sure to savor.

But today my love of Whole Foods and love of capitalism intersected to make my #innerhippie and #innercapitalist waltz.

This morning, I stumbled upon a recent interview that ReasonTV’s Matt Welch conducted with John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods. In the interview, Mackey opines that “You have to understand the narrative that many people have about business and capitalism is that they’re fundamentally selfish and greedy and exploitative, and corporations are sociopaths, that they don’t care about anything or anyone but themselves and making as much money as possible. So therefore they cannot be trusted and they become too powerful and then they bribe people and they sell poisonous things, and they’re fundamentally evil. And of course I don’t agree with that narrative.”

He adds that “Business is the greatest value creator in the world. Business creates value for its customers, for its employees, for its suppliers, for its investors, for the larger communities it’s part of … we are the value creators. We’re the heroes, and yet, that’s not the narrative that’s told about business. So we’re telling that narrative. And at the same time, we’re challenging business to be more conscious and to take their value creation to a higher level.”

Mackey addresses the “anti-corporation mentality” held by many and pays tribute to Adam Smith and freedom: “There seems to be something in human nature that wants to restrict other people’s choices. Some people seem to not be happy unless they’re telling other people what to do–that they know best. So that’s always discouraging.”

Mackey’s forthcoming book, The Morality of Capitalism, will further outline his views of capitalism and business. I’m hoping I can pick up a copy at my local Whole Foods.

Until then, I’ll be right here, sipping organic green juice and thanking John Mackey for satisfying my love of capitalism and agave-sweetened oat cookies in the same morning.

ReasonTV’s full interview with John Mackey


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9 years ago

Whole Foods is my favorite. Great to hear him speak out like this.

9 years ago

Great Stuff Bila! I can absolutely appreciate Mackey’s explanation as spot on.

Tony J.
9 years ago

I have an inner hippie too. Thanks for the column, always great stuff.

Mike M.
9 years ago

Great post, can’t wait to read his book.

9 years ago

Love this, Jedediah! And I love Whole Foods!

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