Responding to Eden Foods

On Monday, June 30th, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that some closely-held companies with religious objections may opt out of an Affordable Care Act requirement to pay for contraception coverage for their employees. Eden Foods, the oldest independent organic food producer in the United States, has a similar case, Eden Foods v. Burwell, pending in court at this time. Michael Potter, Eden Foods’ CEO, has been outspoken in opposition to the ACA requirement. Since July 1st, CGFC has been receiving comments from its owners about Eden Foods’ lawsuit, some questioning whether or not CGFC should continue to stock Eden products.

The comments and thoughts that CGFC owners have shared with us regarding Eden Foods have been diverse. Some have called for a boycott of Eden Foods at CGFC; some have thanked CGFC for bringing the issue to their attention; others have stated that while they are in disagreement with Eden Foods’ lawsuit, they still want access to these products at CGFC because of their high quality; and some have requested that CGFC stay out of “non-food” issues entirely.

CGFC exists to serve all of its owners by running a grocery store that supports our Ends:

  • The co-op is the center of a vibrant, inclusive community.

  • The cooperative movement is strengthened.

  • The co-op serves as an educational resource on food issues.

  • Our local food movement is equitable, robust, and environmentally sound.

Our Ends are the goals set forth by CGFC’s democratically elected Board of Directors as the result of extensive owner input, and they define the reason for Common Ground’s existence. All decisions that CGFC management makes are guided and informed by our Ends.

Since July 7th, CGFC has offered a fact sheet at the Welcome Desk on Eden Foods, this fact sheet will stay on the Welcome Desk until August 8th, and will then be available upon request.

In addition, CGFC will take the following steps:

Open Letter

As the General Manager of Common Ground, I have written an open letter to the president of Eden Foods, you can find it here: Eden Food Letter.pdf.

Owner/Customer Letters to Eden

CGFC will serve as a conduit for its owners and customers to share their thoughts with Eden Foods. Eden Foods comment forms will be available at the Welcome Desk for one month, through August 16th. All owners and customers are encouraged to fill out one of these comment forms and turn it in at the Welcome Desk or any cash register. CGFC will mail all comments received to Eden Foods, along with the open letter from the General Manager, at the end of the comment period. If you prefer to share your comment electronically, please send it to comments@commonground.coop and we will print out and mail these as well.

Finalize Owner Flag Product Policy

As part of our business goals for 2014, CGFC management has been actively working out the details of an Owner Flag Policy to facilitate owners educating one another about formal product or brand boycotts. This process will allow owners to request to flag a product or product line and provide information about a boycott they want shared in the store. Products approved for flagging by our Product Standards Advisory Team will have information posted next to them on store shelves, where all shoppers can easily access and utilize it as they choose in making their purchasing decisions. This new policy will be on our website and forms available in our store to submit a product flag request as of August 1st.

Eden Foods products were flagged on CGFC’s shelves as of Friday, July 18th. This information will stay up for 6 months, unless the boycott of Eden Foods ends before then.

As the General Manager of CGFC, the sole employee of the Board of Directors who is charged with the running of CGFC’s business in alignment with the Ends, I always want to hear from the owners I serve. Let me know your thoughts about CGFC’s response to Eden Foods at jacqueline@commonground.coop.

In Cooperation,

Jacqueline Hannah

General Manager

Common Ground Food Co-op

File Insert: