The results of our annual election are in and as of January 1st, 2015, Wheatsville Food Co-op will no longer sell any Eden Foods products or use them in our recipes. The issue of whether or not to remove Eden Foods products was decided by a democratic vote as outlined in our bylaws. Below is the final verified vote tally from our Annual Election.
We know that some of our customers have been enjoying Eden Foods products for years and will be disappointed to learn that we will no longer stock that brand. As a cooperatively owned retail grocery, we abide by the rules mutually agreed upon in our bylaws and the collective decision reached by our owners. We appreciate the effort and time it took members of the co-op to bring this issue to a vote and are very proud of the cooperative and democratic process used to make the final decision.
We have included a recap outline of the petition process that led to this decision and have included answers to frequently asked questions below.
Summary of the Issue
Eden Foods is one of the oldest natural and organic food companies in North America and has been an industry leader in maintaining organic standards, directly supporting North American family farms, and providing Non-GMO assurance on all products. The brand’s line of BPA-free canned beans, condiments, soymilk and pastas has been carried at Wheatsville Food Co-op since the 80’s.
On March 20, 2013, Eden Foods filed suit against the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which administers the Affordable Care Act, for the right to opt out of contraceptive coverage for its employees. 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’ 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.
In response to Eden’s stance, some customers inquired if the co-op would stop selling Eden Foods products. As a cooperative grocery, Wheatsville doesn't stop selling product in response to any political issues. The co-op serves a very diverse customer base and there are individuals on both sides of any issue. We believe that we can best serve our community by continuing to focus on providing healthy foods.
The co-op encourages customers to vote, on this and other issues, with their dollars by supporting those companies they like and believe in. When (for any reason) products don’t sell, the co-op stops carrying them.
If the products in question, such as Eden Foods, continue to sell and see no significant decrease in support, the decision on whether or not to stop selling the product must be made through the petition process. This process is outlined in our bylaws as a way for owners to address issues like these in an open and democratic manner.
Petition and Election
By August 1st, 2014 Wheatsville members had gathered the necessary 500 owner signatures to submit the petition to the Board of Directors. The required signatures were received and verified and so the issue was put to a vote in our recent election.
The co-op presented both sides of the issue and asked owners whether or not the co-op should stop selling Eden Foods products.
After all the votes were verified and tabulated, the final vote was in favor of removing Eden Foods products from the co-op.
When will Eden Foods stop being available?
The co-op will sell down current stock and not place any reorders. The co-op will stop purchasing Eden Foods products for sale or use in recipes by 1/1/15.
Can a shopper still place special orders for the product?
No. The co-op will no longer place special orders for Eden Foods products.
Will the co-op still cook with Eden products?
No. The co-op will not use Eden Foods for ingredients in any of our housemade products.
Will the co-op have replacement products available?
The co-op has identified all the items that would be affected by the vote and have made accommodations to find comparable replacements as available.
Can Eden Foods ever come back?
The brand may come back to the co-op by the same process that took it off. A member petition would have to filed and endorsed by 500+ owners. The issue would then be put back on the general election ballot for a vote.
Have any other similar petitions been passed by owner election?
Back in the 1980’s a petition was launched to not stock any wellness or bodycare products that were tested on animals. The petition passed and we can now say that we have a 100% cruelty-free wellness department.