An obvious uproar has ensued within the high-fatlow-carb diet community this week as a result of the seemingly sudden decision by the most well-known health food retailer in the world to actively market and promote a low-fatvegetarian diet in their 289 stores. Whole Foods Market has strongly branded itself as the go-to place for people desiring to make healthier food choices for themselves and their family and they have long offered customers with a variety of dietary choices that ability to select what best meets their specific needs. But all of that has changed now that they are pushing what they are calling their “Health Starts Here” campaign.
According to their press release about this educational effortthey are hoping to “help shoppers and Team Members who want to improve their health easily and naturally” by implementing “healthy eating education.” They define this as a low-fatplant-based diet full of vegetablesfruitslegumeswhole grainsnuts and seeds. Although they do discourage the consumption of highly-processed and sugary foodsthe focus is very clearly on limiting dietary fat and increasing carbohydrate intake. They even have a page on their web site for “Maximizing the Vegetarian Diet.”
To help “educate” their customers on the vegetarian way of eatingprominent displays of popular low-fat vegetarian diet books like The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell (who you’ll recall I had a recent encounter with on Amazon.com)The Food Revolution by John RobbinsThe Engine 2 Diet by Rip Eppelstyncookbooks by Dr. John McDougalland a full line of products from Dr. Joel Fuhrman whose “Eat Right America” logo and message is plastered all over Whole Foods since he was one of the primary consultants for formulating the new nutritional mission for the stores. Dr. Fuhrman is the author of a book I reviewed several years back entitled Eat To Live and is certainly no fan of animal-basedhigh-fatlow-carb diets. I’ve given him an opportunity to explain the basis for his beliefs in an interview on my podcast show but he has refused.
Now when you walk into a Whole Foods storeyou are bombarded with pamphlets urging you to begin a low-fatplant-based diet and cut back or remove animal foods from your menus altogether. Worse than thatthere are no alternative books by respected low-carb authors like Dr. Robert AtkinsDrs. Mike and Mary Dan EadesDr. Barry Searsor anyone else who is not on board with the vegetarian dogma. So people who are livin’ la vida low-carb will find no reinforcement for their particular way of eating when they shop at Whole Foods stores which is why I think this makes them more accurately described as Whole Fools!
A new Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) rating system now appears on the foods located throughout the stores which gives plant-based foods a way to appear more nutrient dense than animal-based foods which are just as chock full of vitamins such as AD and KDHAEPA arachidonic acidtaurineiodinebiotinpantothenic acidand vital minerals like sodiumchloridepotassiumsulfurphosphoruscoppermanganeseboronmolybdenum and chromiumaccording to Sally Fallon Morell from the Weston A. Price Foundation in a press release responding to this move by Whole Foods.
Fallon is not alone in her concern over this radical change in store policy by Whole Foods which sources from within the company management informed me includes a phasing out of some meat products in favor of more vegetables and grain-based products. I decided to ask a cross-section of the leading low-carb voices in the blogosphere to give their reaction to this decision and here’s what they told me:
Gary Taubesauthor of Good Calories Bad Calories
Tom Naughtondocumentary filmmaker/blogger for FAT HEAD
Lierre Keithauthor of The Vegetarian Myth
Dr. Michael Azizauthor of The Perfect 10 Diet
Dr. Kendra Pearsallcreator of Enlita
Dana Carpenderpopular blogger and bestselling author of a series of low-carb cookbooks
Gracieblogger at “Girl Meets Health”
Dr. Kurt Harrisblogger at “PaNu”
Connie Bennetblogger/author of SUGAR SHOCK!
Fred Hahnblogger/author of The Slow Burn Fitness Revolution
J.P. Fantonblogger at “Healthy Fellow”
Dr. Robert Suauthor of Carbohydrates Can Kill
Dr. William Davisblogger at “The Heart Scan Blog”
Nora Gedgaudasauthor of Primal Body-Primal Mind
Jon & Cathy Paynehosts of the “Our Natural Life” podcast
Kelly the Kitchen Kopblogger at Kelly the Kitchen Kop
Mark Sissonblogger/author of Primal Blueprint
Can you sense the outragedisgustand disappointment from my fellow colleagues in the low-carb diet and health community over this move by Whole Foods? It’s disappointing to say the least and it begs the question: What should the call to action be for those of us who support a high-fatlow-carbanimal-based diet? Fallon believes we should make Whole Foods feel it in their bottom line by shopping elsewhere to obtain the realwhole foods that make up our low-carb diets.
While I’m all for people deciding not to purchase from Whole Foods in protest of this asinine decision to ostracize a segment of their customer baseI also think they need to hear from people like you and me whose lives have been radically changed for the better as a result of high-fatlow-carb living that includes delicious and nutritious cuts of meats with healthy saturated fats. You can e-mail your personal low-carbhigh-fat success story to the Whole Foods corporate customer service department at firstname.lastname@example.org to let them know what you think about their change in corporate policy.
IncidentallyI called the media relations department for Whole Foods on Wednesday requesting a brief 10-minute interview with John Mackey about this decision to promote low-fat vegetarian diets in his stores since there would be concern among my readers and podcast show listeners. The very nice media relations representative informed me that he was not doing any interviews at this timeso I requested ANYONE from Whole Foods to come on to share more about why this decision was made. I sent my request to her via e-mail as she requested and here was the response back:
In other wordsthanks but we’re not interested in being put on the spot to try to explain an ill-advised decision made by our CEO. I’ve looked on their web site and it doesn’t give me any reason to spend one more red cent of my hard-earned dollars with a company that refuses to acknowledge the healthfulness of my particular way of eating. Now it’s so long Whole Foods and good luck with maintaining your market share and customers peddling an outdated and soon-to-be obsolete diet program!
Are there any other national health food chains willing to step up to the plate and promote the health benefits of fats in their stores to counter this move by Whole Foods? I can guarantee you there will be a HUGE following of people who are livin’ la vida low-carb flocking to your stores if that kind of an educational marketing campaign were to be implemented. Is there any company willing to make it happen?