Washington Post glamorizes Whole Foods; Fails to disclose obvious conflict of interest
June 16th it was announced that Amazon.com would acquire Whole Foods for $13.7 billion.
Whole Foods is often discussed as a part of the problem of gentrification: raising cost of living which pushes out poor communities into “food deserts.” But in the Post’s new article Whole Foods is painted as a solution.
The Post did not notify their readers of the obvious conflict of interest: The owner of the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, is also the owner of Amazon, set to own Whole Foods.
Nearly half of the article functions like a promo for Whole Foods and a hit-piece on DC’s chain of Safeway grocery stores (a competitor of Whole Foods):
“Even affluent Washingtonians often complain about their local grocery. The Safeway on Connecticut Ave…is derided as antiquated, while the Giant on Van Ness Street sometimes draws barbs for bare shelves and poor service.
Yet residents in those areas are in proximity to alternatives such as the Whole Foods in Tenleytown or the Safeway in Georgetown, with its vast parking, outdoor patio and lounge furnished with comfortable armchairs, a fireplace, complimentary WiFi and flat-screen televisions.”
The article then tells the story of a man who prefers to ride a bus 3 miles to Whole Foods rather than grocery shop at nearby Safeway:
“Raymond Blanks, a retired educator who lives nearby [Safeway], rode a bus more than three miles on a recent Friday to buy rockfish, sweet potatoes and organic carrots at the Whole Foods on H Street...
‘It was beautiful,’ he said as he waited for another bus to deliver him home, his green Whole Foods bag on his arm.
At his neighborhood Safeway, Blanks said, he once asked a worker for bok choy: ‘He looked at me like I was a brother from another planet. They don’t carry it.’
‘[Safeway] never have enough cashiers,” Blanks continued. “And they have lines that go all the way to Anacostia’.”
The author tells us another patron has “concerns about [Safeway’s] cleanliness” and goes on to insinuate that Safeway is racist:
“Inside the Safeway…The long wait is a ritual that infuriates her — she interprets it as evidence of the store’s disrespect for a clientele that is almost entirely African American.”
In the midst of all the hits on Safeway, the article features a large photo with a smiling man outside Whole Foods.
When discussing the gentrification of DC in the past (years before WaPost’s Bezos was set to own Whole Foods) WaPost made a video in which Ed Lazere of D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute shared a common concern about Whole Foods:
“I am actually really concerned that a Whole Foods…will limit access that low income residents have to affordable produce and affordable groceries in general.”
There was no such commentary in the Post’s recent article.