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Soy to the World: A Holiday Wish from Whole Foods Market

This holiday season Whole Foods Market is offering gift boxes and certificates brightly printed with the wish “Soy to the World.”

Whole Foods Market, of course, perceives soy foods and soy milk — particularly modern packaged and processed soy products — as a major profit center.   Soy also fits nicely within CEO John Mackey’s vegan agenda and his promotion of soy as the ticket to personal and planetary health.  Sadly, soy to the world will not bring joy to the world this holiday season or any other.   

The word “soy,” however, fits Whole Foods Market very well.  As discussed in my last blog, “Talking Tofurky,” “soy” is urban slang for something false, of poor value or just not what it seems.   That pretty much sums up a whole lot of the phoney baloney, pseudo-organic products Whole Foods sells.   Indeed a whole lot of what this chain preaches is out of integrity with what it practices. 


Heard of whitewashing?  The variant found at Whole Foods is known as “greenwashing.”  The chain put green leaves on its logo,  prominently displays environmentally correct “core values,” and gives mouth service to sustainability yet engages in numerous practices that are environmentally unfriendly.  

Bagging It, for example. Whole Foods encourages us to bring our own bags to save the environment and gives bag credits to local charities.   Eco consumers feel good about this, but what about all those highly processed and overly packaged foods toted home in them?   Soy good to know that not one of those pricey crackers or cookies will crack or crumble.   As for those sturdy packages, they’ll survive for years in the landfills.   


Soy Local or Soy Loco

Whole Foods talks the good talk about supporting  local farmers.  It’s one of its conspicuously displayed “core values.”   But walk down the aisles and most everything comes from somewhere else.    Where were all those little soybeans milked to produce soymilk?   Where did they catch those tofurkies?   Where did those fruits and vegetables grow?   California, Mexico, Chili, India?   Not soy often in our own backyard.  

How do local farmers feel about Whole Foods Market?   Many mutter “soy loco”  (“I am crazy”) under their breath whenever they give in and sell to Whole Foods.   Farmers who expect a fair wage for their hard work rarely sell there given the chain’s aim to buy dirt cheap and sell sky high.  


Soy Green

More acres of the Rain Forest are destroyed for soybean crops than for beef cattle yet soy is touted as green for the environment.   Most of the Midwest has been destroyed by the monocropping of three vegan staples — corn, wheat and soy. 

Soy Generous  

“Soy to the World” means planeloads of soy products given to survivors of famines and natural disasters.   Seems benevolent, but there’s more to this than good PR.Disaster relief builds global business by making the world’s people dependent upon imported soy and other industrially grown, processed and packaged products.  Such “charitable” practices undermine local farmers and cottage industries and wipe out indigenous crops.  

Soy Egalitarian

Equal opportunity poor health.   Yuppie vegans at one end of the spectrum pay premium prices for health-destroying soy foods.   Poor people eat donated soy from relief packages.  The results for both are malnutrition, digestive distress, thyroid disorders, reproductive problems, ADD/ADHD, allergies, even heart disease and cancer.   Soy to the world.

Meanwhile, John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, likes to be seen as just a regular Joe.  He earns only fourteen times the salary of his average ”team member,” after all. While other corporate executives doubtless take home far bigger paychecks, Mackey’s “talking tofurky” here.  If he were an executive who “talks turkey,” he would admit to also earning millions  in stock options.    He might also be sensitive to the fact that his store is widely mocked as “Whole Paycheck Market” because its extreme markups make it soy overpriced for the average consumer.  


Soy Organic

Whole Foods sells only organic soybeans, right?   That’s what they say, but it took months — and an embarrassing expose by  the Cornucopia Institute  –before just some of the Silk products made with commercial soybeans was removed from the shelves.   Similarly, Whole Foods has sold a whole lot of veggie burgers, energy bars and other “organic” products made with soy protein isolate and other ingredients processed using hexane solvents.  Cornucopia also exposed that, but you read it first in The Whole Soy Story.   

Elsewhere in the store, pseudo organic reigns.   Consider factory-farmed “organic” Horizon brand milk and butter.  As for produce, the artful displays conflate organic and commercial.    And if the internet postings of disgruntled Whole Foods “team members” can be trusted, much — if not all —  of it is cleaned with non-organic cleaners.   Seems the  organic cleaners come out, when the inspectors come in.  

Shoppers who aren’t careful may go home with commercial produce just like that found at the supermarket down the block but at a substantially higher price    Whole Foods Market carefully crafts the illusion it sells organic, but far more of what it sells is “natural”– whatever that means —  or even commercial.     


Soyled Health Claims

Is soy the “miracle bean” that can cure everything from cancer to ingrown toe nails? Whole Foods would certainly like us to think so.    Similarly, consumers who buy baked and deli goods at Whole Foods are almost always con-oiled, though canola is increasingly replaced by soy oil, which if anything is even worse.

Hemp, chocolate, agave anyone?   Health claims for any of these are very “soy” — i.e. not what they seem.  Agave, for instance,  is tricked out high fructose corn syrup. Chocolate-covered soy nuts are surely the  “tofurky” of snacks.   Most sanctimonious of all is Whole Foods’  promotion of  vegan goods with a green smiley face and the words “I’m vegan!”   


Stepford Foods

All the onions are exactly the same size.  Big,  round and heavy! All the apples, too.

Never saw anything like that in my own garden or orchard.   Yet Whole Foods gives us row after perfectly presented row of produce.   Bland but pretty-faced, immaculately clean, blemish free, perfectly made up and not one strand of hair out of place, these are the Stepford Wives of the fruit and vegetable kingdom.   Guess Whole Foods thinks Stepford goods provide a stress-free shopping experience.  No need to choose.  Perfect for the shopper in Calvin Klone jeans. 


Soy Latte

The Urban Dictionary defines “soy latte” as something overpriced and pretentious, especially something that tastes good initially but leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. Seems to me that sums up Whole Foods Market awfully well. 




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22 Responses to Soy to the World: A Holiday Wish from Whole Foods Market

  1. Richard says:

    We try to stay as far away as we can from soy “products”, but it seems companies keep trying to sneak it into our diets wherever we look.

  2. STG says:

    Thanks Kaayla for an informtive and truthful blog. An asside: I watched the segment on Dr. Oz about soy. What a joke. Dr. Oz did not provide the time for a serious discussion of the pros and cons of soy. He allowed you and the other guest a few sound-bytes (hardly a debate. Dr. Oz appeared to be promoting soy in his game format and any concerns about soy seemed to be downplayed.

  3. Laurel Blair, NTP says:

    Great summary of almost everything I hate about Whole Foods. It is a shame that so many people shop there and think that their food is somehow healthier than any other grocery store. A couple of non- soy-related things I have a problem with are their stuid ANDI scores and their confusing labeling on their “pastured” meat. The meat labeled as “pasture” beef at my local Whole Foods is only partially grass-fed. Who knows what percentage of their feed is actually grass. The price raised a red flag for me, and I investigated further. They also sell 100% grass-fed beef, but how many people do you think will just pick up a pre-wrapped package of “pasture” beef and think its the real thing? Sneaky….

  4. Kaayla T. Daniel says:

    I loved being on Dr Oz, and 3.6 million people have now heard there are possible risks to this “health food.” Dr. Oz and Dr Hyman also made it clear that soy foods should be organic and whole, not the heavily processed and packaged ones. That’s huge. Television rarely allows for significant discussion, but radio not only allows it but thrives on controversy. I’ve been on hundreds of radio shows, many of which have devoted an hour or more to the soy topic. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund has a show once a month on Republic Radio. Please tune in.

  5. MB says:

    Just Evil…is Whole Foods worse than the average super market? I am personally thankful for the presence of a Whole Foods in my community. At least I have organic and natural choices when I go grocery shopping where as before there was a whole foods, I did not. I can’t hate them because they don’t subscribe to my ideas and beliefs of what is healthy. And I just can’t bring myself to hate them because they want to make money…I’m not saying I agree or would do the same thing but we do live in a fallen world…I can’t expect everyone to be perfect and I won’t take my support away from them because they are not. I wish Whole Foods only sold truly healthy foods…but they definitely couldn’t make a business of doing so, so they then wouldn’t exist. I also wish the CEO wasn’t a vegan, simply for his sake. But he is and I’m not going to think him evil for his ignorance. Doesn’t seem like making Whole Foods out to be the evil monster is worth the time and thought. I’m just thankful for the good that they do bring to my table and don’t focus on the fact that they think soy is good…just seems like a waste of time.

  6. Kaayla T. Daniel says:

    Nearly all of us need to shop at Whole Foods at least once in awhile. It’s not evil, but the discrepancy between what it preaches and what practices makes it a fit subject for satire. I do think it’s our job to let Whole Foods know what we think, what we want to buy, what we refuse to buy, and why. Finally, I do believe they can make plenty of money — and nothing wrong with that — selling with integrity.

  7. Ava says:

    “He might also be sensitive to the fact that his store is widely mocked as “Whole Paycheck Market” because its extreme markups make it soy overpriced for the average consumer.” I completely agree with this statement. I think that the entire industry is overpriced and only out to make a “not-so-quick buck. I hope that this madness stops soon [url = '[url=]’style=’color:rgb(251,251,237)[/url]]poker sites

  8. Sophie says:

    Soyle ain’t green?

    (Forgive the really bad pun. Last of the year–I promise.)

  9. Kaayla Daniel says:

    Puns are good. Keep on punning. Hillary E. Us :D

  10. Jack Kronk says:

    I shop at Whole Foods all the time, because they have certain products that I cannot easily get elsewhere, and sometimes that just wins. For example, they sell a heavy cream with no other ingredients other than cream, made by Clover Farms. They also sell Organic Valley’s pasture butter. They also sell organic sprouted corn tortillas with no funny ingredients and no oils, made by Food For Life. Is Whole Foods overpriced? Most definitely, almost across the board. I bypass at least 95% of the store every time. And the infusion of canola oil in many of their foods is indeed a disappointment, but for the select items that I have found only there, I continue to buy from them.

  11. It’s not that Whole Foods is so bad. I, too, shop there for things I cannot get anywhere else. But I shop with my eyes open. Soy, when ingested beyond a bowl of edemame, is poison to people, especially young men. For Whole Foods to promote is as a healthy choice, good for everyone in any quantity you like, is completely opposed to what they supposedly stand for.

    The point of the article is that you are not always getting healthy and organic foods there, despite the cute signs attached to everything.

    I boycott Organic Valley products. They forced their dairy farmers choose between selling to local raw milk customers and selling to OV. Where once their farmers could do both, they now cannot. Looks like the commercial dairy farmers got to OV and it caved. Boo.

    I am not opposed to anyone making as much money as they can honestly. But don’t lie to me, make me think you are someone you are not, in order to get my hard-earned dollar. There’s enough of that from Halliburton. I don’t need it from my hippie dippy organic market.

    Thank you for this article. I appreciate it.

  12. Meagan says:

    Whole Foods Market certainly isn’t perfect, but they do provide a wide variety of products, that I, an individual with food allergies and sensitivities, appreciate very much. I think more of the problem is that Whole Foods pushes the soy agenda, which [i]no doubt[/i] they have to know is false. Soy is dangerous.

  13. Joe Anon says:

    Your organization is certainly good at sharing anecdotes and personal experiences, but it certainly doesn’t have the facts. Everyone from the UN to your local university professor will tell you that vegan and vegetarian diets are better for health AND the environment, as well as its ability to solve the problem of global hunger. You guys are just spreading lies and conspiracy theories.

    - Submitted anonymously

  14. Nancy says:

    Thankfully, I have shopping alternatives in my area, Central Market, Market Street, Sprouts, Natural Grocers (Vitamin Cottage), and several locally owned health food stores. I stopped shopping at Whole Foods when they stopped carrying the specialized food items for my son’s medically necessary diet.

  15. Meghan says:

    I will merely suggest that you read “The Vegetarian Myth” as one of many sources of facts and data regarding not only the devastating health effects of the vegan diet, but the environmental destruction wrought upon every continent as a result of humankind’s desire to cultivate grains and now in the 21st century, to believe the delusion that a vegan diet is healthy for humans, animals or the planet.

  16. So Kaayla,

    Are you saying that Mackey is just a “John” for the “Soylin’ our Planet” Industry? Sounds like a “Big Mackey” attack on our health to me….

    I’ll be eating more “Slow Food”, thank you!

    Good Health and “Humor”al Immunity!

  17. Nada Vegan says:

    lol @ Joe Anon. Have you even bothered to read any of the (well-researched and documented) articles that WAPF has produced? Or are you too brain-damaged from all the soy burgers and Silk?

  18. Vicki says:

    I am grateful to have a Whole Foods Market to shop at, Soy or not (which I choose not to eat or purchase). When I shop Whole Foods one thing I don’t have to worry about is trans fats as I know there isn’t going to be hydrogentated oils listed in any of there products and they have a large variety of organic, free range, grass fed items. I know I have seen trans fats at Henry’s and Sprouts on labels. It is still my responsibility to look at and read labels and make choices based on what’s best. There isn’t one market that is going to be a perfect place to purchase food unless we went back to doing it our selves, hunting and gathering, and I’m sure they had their challenges too. ALWAYS READ THE LABEL and get only what you feel is right for you and your family. They have the right to sell what they decide they want to sell and we have the right to not purchase it and decide. I go to 3 or 4 places before I end up with the food I need in my home with the best ingredients for my family. There is a way to write about less than quality food items, bad ingredients, and things we would like eliminated from our food choices in a less confrontational way. Just give us the information and we will definately use it to eat better and choose better.

  19. Kaayla T. Daniel says:

    Sadly, we cannot count on products at Whole Foods being free of trans fatty acids. Although not labeled on the bottles, they are found in refined soy oil and canola oil, the oils used in nearly all of packaged and deli foods sold at Whole Foods. The article “The Great Con-ola” by Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon Morell — which can be found on this website — describes it well. “Like all modern vegetable oils, canola oil goes through the process of caustic refining, bleaching and degumming — all of which involve high temperatures or chemicals of questionable safety. And because canola oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which easily become rancid and foul-smelling when subjected to oxygen and high temperatures, it must be deodorized. The standard deodorization process removes a large portion of the omega-3 fatty acids by turning them into trans fatty acids. Although the Canadian government lists the trans content of canola at a minimal 0.2 percent, research at the University of Florida at Gainesville, found trans levels as high as 4.6 percent in commercial liquid oil. The consumer has no clue about the presence of trans fatty acids in canola oil because they are not listed on the label. ” Similarly, the omega 3 fatty acids in soy oil are reduced from about 8 percent to 3 percent or less.

    Most of us do need to shop at Whole Foods for at least some of our foods. However, as the trans fat issue makes clear, reading labels is not enough. Not all is revealed on the labels, and many foods that seemr healthy are not. That said, I’d still rather eat the occasional baked treat from Whole Foods than from a regular supermarket. Fortunately, a few items are made with butter.

  20. They also sell Organic Valley’s pasture butter. They also sell organic sprouted corn tortillas with no funny ingredients and no oils, made by Food For Life.

  21. Kaayla Daniel says:

    Several writers here have pointed out there are some good products at Whole Foods. Yes, of course, there are. I shop there too for some foods, and am especially pleased Whole Foods carries some good cultured sauerkraut and kimchi and helps support those small companies. This blog is not to criticize members who cannot do local, biodynamic, grassfed, pastured etc perfectly. Nearly all of us, including me, do the WAPF diet imperfectly and do some shopping at Whole Foods. This blog is about the overall integrity of the chain, and how its stated core values do not match up with its actual practices. I suggest we try to hold them to the standards they espouse.

  22. Jacqueline Jakle says:

    I have read similar comments as these on other blogs. There are some good points being made, and as one person posted we all have the right to make whatever choices we feel are right for us. We all must read labels carefully, and one thing I do that I haven’t read anybody else does is I also call the farms and the manufacturers of products I purchase from Whole Foods or other stores. I can’t get everything I need at one store and actually shop at four markets that carry organic products and other items. Shopping day is a real event! But I make the best possible choices I can, based on information I am aware of and on my personal needs.

    I do not eat soy as I am allergic to it, but even if I were not, I wouldn’t buy it. I read labels very carefully and the word “soy” doesn’t come into my kitchen! I think it’s important we all continue to do our own research on the products we purchase and consume.

    Ultimately, I want to get back to growing my own veggies. Until then, I’ll research, read, evaluate, scrutinize and make the best possible informed choices I can. I choose NOT to eat foods that have been sprayed with pesticides and I will do my best to make sure the safest, cleanest, most unadulterated food comes home with me.

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