Weaver Street Market has decided to remove any and all Eden Foods products from their shelves in the wake of the Hobby Lobby ruling that allows employers to exempt certain types of birth control from workers’ insurance plans.
Orange County Commissioner, Penny Rich, says that as a long-time member of the Weaver Street community she is in full support of the co-op’s choice.
“I actually think it’s a good decision,” says Rich. “I think people do have a choice to buy Eden soy products or not, but I think that it shows that the members of Weaver Street, the way that they spoke so strongly about it, that the Board is listening, and that it was a good move on their part.”
Despite the requirements by the Affordable Care Act, Founder of Eden Foods, Michael Potter, has claimed to be strongly against covering particular birth control options under his company’s health insurance plan. Eden Foods has sued the Department of Health and Human Services as Potter on the grounds of “unconstitutional government overreach,” and described contraceptives as “lifestyle drugs.”
Rich says that companies like Eden Foods that continue to ignore the basic healthcare needs of their female employees they are destined to wind up in a risky position.
“I think companies that are not in tune with women’s needs and women’s rights are going to find themselves in trouble as time goes on,” says Rich. “You can’t deny women health care, you can’t make women second-class citizens, and if companies continue to do that, then I have no problem with dropping them out of a co-op, which is owned by people that shop there.”
Weaver Street General Manager Ruffin Slater declined to comment on the decision, but issued this statement on the co-op’s website:
Thanks for taking the time to write to us about Eden Foods. We value your feedback because it gives us an opportunity to align our product offerings more closely with the desires of our owners.
Your feedback has caused us to evaluate how Eden products fit at Weaver Street Market. Our conclusion is that we can better meet owner needs by focusing on similar products from other producers, so we will no longer be offering Eden products.
Our goal is to sell products that meet owners’ tastes and that also meet cooperative values. We are proud when we can offer great tasting products that are also from local and small producers.
Although we were able to react to this situation, we recognize that there are other cases where producers still fall short of our ideals. Product selection balances many factors including quality, price, and farming practices in addition to producer business practices. We constantly seek the best available choice for our owners without restricting access to important product categories.
More than anything, a situation like this causes us to redouble our efforts to improve our buying power, develop alternative suppliers, and to make more food ourselves–so that we can control the ingredients, quality, and business practices.
Again, thank you for your feedback. The deeper the partnership we have with our owners, the more effective we can be in jointly sourcing the best food options. By attracting more people to food co-ops, we can increase our impact on the community and the world.
Whole Foods, one of Weaver Street Market’s closest competitors, has stated that they have no plans to discontinue selling Eden Foods’ products and will instead allow customers to “vote with their dollars.”
Weaver Street Market has been in business for over 25 years and has 18,000 consumer-owners with three locations in Orange County.
For more information on the Weaver Street Market co-op, click here.