The Co-op & Eden Foods

Thank you to those of you who have contacted us to tell us what you think about Eden foods. We’re happy so many of our owners and shoppers are passionate about their food and where their grocery dollars are going – those qualities are what drove our founders to join together to create our co-op in 1971. The situation with Eden foods is an unprecedented opportunity for us to have a conversation about how we best serve all of our owners, and remind us that all our owners have different viewpoints, values and beliefs about their foods and the companies that produce them. We often use the analogy that if we dropped products because people were opposed to them, we would sell neither soy nor meat.

Part of our mission is to provide our customers with information about consumer issues. So, when there is a boycott, we consider it our job to offer customers the information they need AND an alternative product so they can make purchasing decisions based on their values and beliefs.  

Unfamiliar with the issue?

On Monday, June 30, 2014 the Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that some family owned companies with religious objections may opt out of an Affordable Care Act requirement to pay for contraception coverage if the company chooses to offer employee health insurance. On this particular occasion, the decision will likely affect one of our longtime brands, Eden Foods. Michael Potter, CEO of Eden Foods, has been outspoken on this issue. The company has a similar case, Eden Foods v. Burwell, pending in court.

Eden Foods objects to a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires companies, if they choose to offer health insurance to their employees, to include coverage of a wide array of contraceptive choices. Here’s an excerpt from Eden Foods’ 2013 statement on the issue:  

We believe in a woman’s right to decide, and have access to, all aspects of their health care and reproductive management. This lawsuit does not block, or intend to block, anyone’s access to health care or reproductive management. This lawsuit is about protecting religious freedom and stopping the government from forcing citizens to violate their conscience. We object to the HHS [Health & Human Services] mandate and its government overreach.

On March 20, 2013, Eden Foods filed suit against Health & Human Services, which administers the Affordable Care Act, for the right to opt out of contraceptive coverage for its employees. Eden Foods is among roughly seventy companies who have filed court cases opposing mandatory contraceptive coverage based on religious objections.  

What does the Hobby Lobby case have to do with Eden Foods?

Eden Foods was not a plaintiff in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, meaning the Supreme Court has not made a ruling specific to Eden Foods. However, in their Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court ordered the lower courts to reconsider their earlier decisions against Eden Foods.  

How does the Co-op fit in?

It’s important to consider that Eden Foods has been an industry leader in maintaining organic standards and bringing BPA-free packaging to the U.S. market. It is a small company with very high quality foods that our customers have used for decades.

Since the news of the ruling broke, there have been calls for boycotts of Eden Foods’ products to oppose their stance. As a rule, the Co-op doesn’t participate in boycotts. Because we serve a diverse customer base and our owners and shoppers represent opinions on all sides of any issue, we believe that we can best serve our community by providing foods that meet their needs. We absolutely encourage our customers to vote with their dollars by supporting those companies they like and believe in. When (for any reason) products don’t sell, we stop carrying them. With limited shelf space, we want to offer as many of the products our customers are looking for as possible.  

Alternatives to Eden products at the co-op include:

  • Beans: Westbrae Organic, Goya, and dried beans in bulk
  • Soymilk: Westbrae and others
  • Vinegars: Spectrum and others

Please feel free to let us know if there is an alternative brands you think we should carry. We’ll continue to watch this situation as it evolves. If our approach changes in any way, we’ll update you here.  A more recent statement from Eden Foods here.