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Today I have one last post on Eden Foods. I wrote about it last Friday for CNN, there's a new piece up on Forbes that covers the struggle, but I worry about it slipping away out of view.

If people concerned about women's rights cannot stop Eden Foods through exerting their consumer power, then we might as well give up.

Hobby Lobby is complicated. It's a huge chain, lots of people from all political stripes use it to support their crafts, and it's going to be hard to effect a strong boycott. Yes, there are lots of excited people and protests now, but it's going to fade and the company will survive or fail on its own. It just doesn't rely on a lot of high-information progressives for its profit margin.

Eden Foods, on the other hand, exists squarely on our turf. Yes, there is a libertarian market for organic products, but as I wrote on CNN, "organic products, a market that relies on educated, well-informed, urban consumers, a demographic that trends liberal." Follow the links (and there are many more studies).

Moreover, people tend to buy organic foods as a conscious choice, not a reflexive decision. The products are usually more expensive, for one thing. It's a business that usually relies on volume to make profits. Start getting Eden Foods out of your stores, refuse to buy them, educate store manager and other shoppers, and we can make a difference.

Moreover, CEO Potter makes for a perfect target. He's offensive in his discussion of birth control as like Jack Daniels, his self-expressed ignorance both about women's issues and about religion (though his lawyer talks a good religious game), he's exactly the kind of person it's easy to motivate lower-information shoppers against.

Here's my problem. I am not an organizer. I am a writer and thinker. I argue. I debate. I compose. I publish. And then it's up to you.

As covered yesterday in Forbes, Credo Mobilize now claims (this link says 100,000, but they've updated according to Forbes) over 150,000 signatures against Eden Foods. 15,000 on this Eden Foods - Whole Foods petition. This is good, but where are the daily diaries here? Where is the outrage across the liberal blog world? Where are the focused campaigns? I keep hoping for more, more pressure. I'm not seeing it.

This is on our turf. Organic foods. The perfect villain. The structural elements are all in our favor.

If we can't win this one, well, then maybe progressives don't actually care that much about access to contraception and fighting back against the religious exemption.

I am a freelance columnist, blogger, long-time member of this site, and history professor. You can read my blog at How Did We Get Into This Mess? This diary is an edited version of today's blog post.

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Comment Preferences

  •  well, remember (10+ / 0-)

    It took me a LONG time to get traction on the plight of gay people in Russia, and I wasn't competing with NN 14 while I was trying to get traction. Next week a lot of people will be back and energized. Ty this again then.

    All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 06:08:01 AM PDT

    •  Yeah (4+ / 0-)

      I'm not an organizer. I am a writer. This week, I am writing about police violence and disability. If people care, they will have to help carry this torch.

      •  That seems a bit disjointed. (11+ / 0-)

        On the one hand, you suggest that the fact that "organizers" haven't dropped whatever they're writing about or working on to take up your agenda and spend their time organizing the boycott you're calling for, is evidence that they "don't actually care that much about access to contraception and fighting back against the religious exemption."

        On the other hand, you're apparently not willing to drop your own agenda and spend more of your time writing about this issue—so you're going to move on this week to another (worthy) cause. You could continue to use your writing to bring more attention and more energy to the Eden Foods boycott, but you're choosing not to do that.

        Do you see the disconnect there?

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 06:33:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dave in Northridge

          I'm writing. I'll keep writing. But I can't carry it alone. I can't get more pieces on EF published this week. You have to do it. I can't write the same story again and again.

          I can write a story, though, if you can get your local store to stop carrying the products. Let me know.

          •  Sure you can. (4+ / 0-)
            I'm writing. I'll keep writing. But I can't carry it alone. I can't get more pieces on EF published this week. You have to do it. I can't write the same story again and again.
            You can publish a whole lot of pieces on EF this week; Daily Kos doesn't limit people to one post on a given topic in a given day or week. You may not be able to publish another piece on EF to CNN, but that's not where the organizers go anyway. If you want to inspire organizers to write about and work on this issue, this site is probably going to be a more fertile field.

            And one of the reasons Dave In Northridge was successful at putting oppression of LGBT people in Russia on this site's agenda was that he did write variations on the same story again and again—looking for any angle he could find about the story and then relating it to the larger narrative. Tenacity in the service of a worthy cause is a virtue.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 06:57:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Are you writing a diary on Eden Foods? (0+ / 0-)

              I am, right now, reading about police killing people with disabilities. That's my work today. Either we, as a community, pick this issue up, or it doesn't get picked up. If you don't like that, well, I am sorry. If you feel strongly about this issue then please let me see what you right about and I will share and tweet it and otherwise promote it.

              •  Whose Responsibility Is It? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Caerus, WB Reeves

                Though I understand your position, Lollardfish, you make it appear that you are asking others to take on responsibility while you move on to something else. Your argument that you are "only" a writer doesn't wash: Silos of responsibility don't exist in movements of this sort. If you believe strongly, you will do whatever you can.

                We each can add our skills where best they can help--and this, perhaps, is what you mean to be saying: You have done what you can do but need others to step up, too. You make it sound like you want to hand off responsibility when, I suspect, you really just want to share it.

                Each of us has our work today. A protest movement, however, isn't work--and you, clearly, are not simply covering it as a story but are writing as an advocate.

                Your point that a successful movement takes a community is well taken, but I think you risk alienating people when you imply that you can no longer help or, at least, that you have to step aside from a central role.

  •  Boycotts are difficult to pull off. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Batya the Toon, CroneWit

    You can't find many examples that have been politically effective on a national scale. They requires a sustained sense of outrage on the part of a large number of people. There is also the problem of commercial relationships that can make it difficult for people to know where to focus. In this case I don't think that there is a visible label on food that says Eden Foods. People would have to investigate the matter to find out where a grocery retailer is purchasing organic produce.  

    •  Every product I've seen says Eden on it (6+ / 0-)

      I could be wrong, but I saw a page with 100 different items, all of which said "Eden." Edensoy, some of them, but all Eden.

    •  On the other hand... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CroneWit, DRo, Assaf

      ...there's a long-term residual effect.

      I havent been in a Chick Fik A since the exposure of their policies years ago.

      I STILL don't buy California Grapes, and I think that boycott put me off grapes for life, the boycott was called off 30 years ago, and I still resist buying them.

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 06:20:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  (on the other hand) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        There was a lettuce boycott about the same time over most of the same issues, and I've been merrily buying lettuce all these years.

        Maybe the REAL message is that consumers are irrational
        and unpredictable-don't piss them off)

        "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

        by leftykook on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 06:24:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The question is whether there is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        sufficient economic impact to have a significant impact on policy. There was a point where the grape boycott did have some impact but that was a long time ago. I'm not aware of any particular reason for it at present. Certainly individual people can and do make economic choices that are influenced by their political convictions. I do that about various things, but without a strong organized movement it doesn't force businesses to change their policies.

        It is a question in terms of pursing political goals of where groups focus and invest resources. In the case of the ACA and contraceptive health care, it seems likely that the political system is going to respond to protest. I certainly am not trying to persuade anybody not to boycott Eden foods.

        The title of the diary in The Death of the Progressive Boycott. I don't think that it has ever been much more than a symbolic gesture.

    •  Eden products are clearly labeled as such (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greengemini, Swamp Cat, splashy

      “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

      by Catte Nappe on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 10:02:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Time was, (4+ / 0-)

    we seemed to be making virtually no headway on raising the minimum wage. I can recall Teddy Kennedy, when he was alive, haranguing the senate over refusals to hike the minimum wage. His, at the time, was a lone voice. "Raising the minimum wage" was an issue a very radical fringe in the progressive movement was talking about. But nobody else.

    I live in the heart of a large metropolitan area. Today, I can barely go outside--literally--without some or other petition signer shoving something-or-other in my face for a city- or state- or federal- "minimum-wage hike." The issue, suddenly, is on everybody's radar.

    Who knows why the public perception of this issue changed? But change, it has. I prefer to think it was the quiet, diligent work of a  handful of activists, maybe for decades, or even longer, who finally brought this issue to the center-front of progressive awareness.

    Yes, I'm making an analogy here.

    Supple and turbulent, a ring of men/ Shall chant in orgy on a summer morn...

    by karmsy on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 06:30:06 AM PDT

  •  I don't buy this "then we might as well give up (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JamesGG, DRo, Jeff Simpson, AJayne, Caerus

    rhetoric. And I don't accept that the number of diaries or signatures on a petition is a useful measure of much.

    Here's my problem. I am not an organizer. I am a writer and thinker. I argue. I debate. I compose. I publish. And then it's up to you
    This is just pouting. The whole tone of your diary is peevish. Hardly a way to rally support.

    Dick Cheney 2/14/10: "I was a big supporter of waterboarding"

    by Bob Love on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 06:39:03 AM PDT

    •  Sorry (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love

      What I mean is to acknowledge my own limitations. I am not a good organizer. Others are. I hope this issue finds them.

      •  I'm just a reader, but you reached me (4+ / 0-)

        I don't have a group of people I can bring along.  But I have let my sister and close friends know.

        I'm consciously avoiding all Eden products.  Was just shopping today and was careful to look for them and avoid them.  This is likely to be a lifelong shopping pattern for me.  From this point forward (unless there is a change that I read about) I will not buy their products - and I used to buy them from time to time.

        Still trying to figure it all out

        by CindyV on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 09:53:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  meh (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MGross, happymisanthropy

    I've never set foot in Hobby Lobby; the nearest store is the next city over.  I've never eaten Eden Foods products.  Their biggest product seems to be soy milk which I don't drink.  So I can't boycott either.

  •  I might be wrong (5+ / 0-)

    but it seems to me that consumer power is only one of many possible ways to stop companies like Eden Foods and Hobby Lobby from withholding earned benefits from their employees.

    I can't agree that "we might as well give up" if we can't get that particular approach to work.  If we can't do it that way, we're going to have to do it another way, that's all.

  •  A boycott can be done silently (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, AJayne, jan4insight, Catte Nappe, splashy

    and at the cash register.  I will never again buy Eden Food products.  But, yes, keep the word alive and pass it on to others.

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 06:55:55 AM PDT

  •  Contacting them at this link is more effective (4+ / 0-)

    than signing internet petitions.

    This link has email, fax, and toll-free phone numbers.

    Tell them you are boycotting all of their products until they treat women as full human beings.

  •  Last year (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    I was involved with lobbying my small urban food cooperative to stop carrying Eden products when this story first broke.  I was disappointed at how many of my fellow members took the position that taking Eden off the shelves would be a) too hard and/ or b) "too political."  And then there was the one person in leadership who argued loudly that Eden denying its workers access to contraceptive health care was just fine.  I've moved away so I don't know how these conversations are sounding now that Hobby Lobby has brought greater public awareness of the issues.  Like others wrote above, I tend to think that most boycotts have always been more symbolic than directly effective at bringing change, but I wonder if it's actually become more difficult to organize around boycotts or if "early adopters" of the famous boycotts of prior generations felt the same way... or if the moral of this story is only UFW can organize an effective progressive boycott.

    by decafdyke on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 07:27:44 AM PDT

  •  Can't help you. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Victor Ward, terrypinder

    I already boycott organic foods for ethical reasons.

    But that said, it just seems sort of futile to me to go after one corporation. There will be others, affecting lots of families, who can't be boycotted. It doesn't get at the root problem--which is that we need to unshackle health care from employment. It's a stupid way to do health care.

    This is a common problem with progressives, in fact. They fixate on a soccer ball (here Eden, other times Monsanto, or whoever) and it really clouds their grasp of the real problems--while solving absolutely nothing. The poutrage feels good, though, I know.

    What will happen the next time the mob comes?--Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by mem from somerville on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 07:35:22 AM PDT

  •  People absolutely should vote with their dollars (4+ / 0-)

    I am very careful not to give/spend any money on organizations or companies whose behavior I don't agree with. I appreciate learning about Eden Foods and I will stop buying their products. I have already spoken to the manager of the health food store when I shop. And I will write to the company.

    But, I am sixty years old and I know very well that a "boycott" is a difficult tool to use. It can take years and years and years, even in a blatant case, for this to have any effect. It is only one tool in a big toolbox of ways to make changes.  

    This issue, rights for women, is larger and more fundamental than just a few bad companies. It is a society wide problem that people have been struggling with since before the Civil War, and the issues are not trivial. Perhaps the recent Supreme Court decisions will activate women and their supporters to vote in November, but I don't expect to see a sea-change yet, though I'd be delighted to be surprised. We need to be educating young people in progressive ideas...

    Where in the Constitution does it say: "...on behalf of corporate interests" ???

    by sillia on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 08:28:30 AM PDT

  •  your conclusion seems a bit weak I think. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    And if you're not seeing daily diaries, why aren't you writing them? Be the change you want to see in the world.

    anyway I don't buy organic, so how can I boycott something I already don't purchase?

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

    by terrypinder on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 08:31:50 AM PDT

  •  The dichotomy of the pc. Starting an on-lone bo... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, Catte Nappe

    The dichotomy of the pc. Starting an on-lone boycott, but wanting to do more. Meanwhile, the Dkos community have other concerns and so do you. So what do you do to keep it alive?

    Observing other bloggers who have causes, I've noted that they wrote blogs only when it was newsworthy. To keep up awareness, they added pertinent info such as petions and URLs to their siglines.

  •  Oops misspelled petitions (0+ / 0-)

    Oops misspelled petitions

  •  I personally don't think that a bombardment of (5+ / 0-)

    diaries is necessary to demonstrate that a boycott is working or not.

    First, it's only been...what...a week now? Boycotts are for the long-haul, especially when it's a label such as Eden Foods.

    There's the learning-curve of what-Eden-makes.

    And, in general (not necessarily Eden), tracing your food back to the parent company can be quite chore, and a surprise:

    But the "we might as well give up" bolded at the beginning of your diary is a bit over-dramatic.

    Patience, grasshopper. This is what they want, for us to give up.

  •  In my experience, the overlap of progressive po... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, Catte Nappe

    In my experience, the overlap of progressive politics with organic consumers is not as great as you seem to assume. I know a lot of gluten-free, organic-eating "libertarians" (of the conservative variety) who applaud the Hobby Lobby decision. Exhibit A: Eden. I have not looked at the studies, mind you, but speak only of my acquaintances.

    There is a strange arc of the political spectrum that meets in the middle when you go to each extreme: long-hair sustainers might be progs or reactionaries and look, act and shop alike

  •  Every time some company behaves this way (0+ / 0-)

    ...we all run around screaming, yelling "boycott." Let's boycott Comcast! Let's boycott Nestle! Let's boycott Whole Foods! I am not bothering with any more calls to boycott until "we" (i.e. some large portion of the left) chooses a target where a boycott might have some traction. It could be Eden. I don't buy their shitty products anyway, but what the hell. Let's boycott -- something. Not everything.

  •  For what it's worth... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You might be more successful by writing about the efforts that are already underway and trying to build some positive momentum.

    I’d rather be a hammer than a nail. Yes, I would, If I only could. I surely would....Paul Simon

    by Giles Goat Boy on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 10:17:19 AM PDT

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