Paper 2 and haiku (blog 8)

Whole Foods Market: Can consumers be selfish and help society at the same time?

Happily healthy

Whole Foods really has it all?

I will soon find out.

In Paper 2, I will investigate Whole Foods Market and its mission, business model, and relationship between what the company portrays as truly important to its mission and what its actions are really telling customers.

After reading Josée Johnston’s article called “The citizen-consumer hybrid: ideological tensions and the case of Whole Foods Market” from the Theory and Society journal, I have become very interested in the hybrid “citizen-consumer” concept Johnston focuses on in his writing. In the article, Johnston analyzes the role that this concept plays in Whole Foods Market, as the company prides themselves on selling products that are good for the consumer, the environment, and society as a whole. The article begins by posing important questions about the devoted customers of Whole Foods Market:

“Am I acting as a consumer looking out for my own interest in artisanal cheese and slow-rise bread, or am I a citizen supporting local agriculture and the whole planetthrough my shopping? Does Whole Foods offer a new opportunity for shoppers to become citizen-consumerswho can have it all pursue their interest in delicious food, while feeling good about their responsibilities to other people, other species, and the environment?” (Johnston, 2008).


Johnston’s article discusses the many contradictions involved with Whole Foods Market’s mission and marketing models that advertise themselves as a company that, according to the Company Information section of their website, seeks out the finest natural and organic foods available, maintain the strictest quality standards in the industry, and have an unshakeable commitment to sustainable agriculture”. This all seems too good to be true, and I look forward to investigating what Whole Foods Market is really about and reporting back my findings in Paper 2.

Whole Foods Market Company Site

Johnston Article

6 thoughts on “Whole Foods Market: Can consumers be selfish and help society at the same time?

  1. This is an interesting concept. I’ve never heard of the hybrid citizen-consumer before. I would be interested in hearing the author’s argument.

  2. In just about every management class I’ve taken here at Bucknell, Whole Foods gets brought up as a model of a successful, socially responsible business. Now that they are finally opening one up in my hometown, I can now see what the fuss is all about! I don’t buy the concept that shopping at Whole Foods is more than just shopping, but also an act that helps society as a whole. It’s food shopping, not the Peace Corps.

  3. This topic sounds really interesting. I’m sure most people, including myself, would automatically assume that Whole Foods is an ethical company because of its values and marketing messages. I am interested to see how critics may challenge this assumption and reveal possible ethical problems with the company.

  4. Ooo- I really love this! I like Whole Foods but I often wonder if it’s all a gimmick or they really are doing good? I wonder if the concept of “citizen-consumers” is just another marketing technique to have shoppers feeling incredibly noble and ethical as they spend $50 for a mango. Can’t wait to see what you discover. Also, you nailed the haiku!

  5. Confession: I’ve never been in a Whole Foods, and this disappoints me a lot because people talk about it all the time and I really want to experience it. I am interested to see if your findings on the ethical practices of Whole Foods make me still want to go there.

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