The taste of a Whole Foods customer boycott

Co-CEO John Mackey’s comments on Obamacare don’t sit well with his shoppers

Will liberals’ devotion to organic food trump their dislike of right wingers? Whole Foods founder John Mackey has been testing that question by accusing President Barack Obama of “fascism”—certainly not what you’d expect from a man whose food chain is the No. 1 choice for back-to-nature environmentalists.

But the Texan libertarian, while plugging his new book, Conscious Capitalism, likened the President’s health care reform to totalitarianism. In fascist states, “Government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it,” he explained; that’s what Obamacare does, he added.

Whole Foods’ many liberal customers didn’t take kindly to the implication they support fascism, and sent the company so many angry messages that Mackey was compelled to take his statement back, writing on his blog that the f-word was “a bad choice of language,” and that “I won’t be using it in the future.” But the fracas is already causing green types to take a closer look at some of Mackey’s positions, like his denunciation of “hysteria about global warming” or his statement that unions are “like herpes.” And with a “Boycott Whole Foods” hashtag gaining prominence online, Mackey might find out it’s not a good idea for a health-food business to alienate the hippies.