I have long loved Eden Foods.
In addition to quality standards and flavor, I buy Eden because the organic and local food company supports the issues I believe will improve our food system. Eden was one of the first to support Prop 37 and continues its Non-GMO advocacy and awareness.
When Bisphenol A (BPA)—a chemical found in aluminum can linings and plastic food containers—was identified by mainstream media as an endocrine disruptor, companies scrambled to find an alternative. Eden took BPA out of their canned products way back in 1999, when research was first released about its potential negative health impacts. The brand's tomatoes are packaged in amber jars to avoid BPA and prevent light from damaging nutrients and flavor profile. I could go on.
In many ways, Eden is an innovator and a trendsetter. That's why I was so surprised when this story on salon.com exposed the brand for its (I think) backward stance regarding women's health issues.
To avoid having to offer their employees insurance that covers birth control, which is required under the new health care law, the company is suing the Obama Administration. The reasoning? According to CEO Michael Potter, it is believed that "these procedures [birth control] almost always involve immoral and unnatural practices."
Not surprisingly, many of Eden's consumers, who I imagine like me are forward-thinking, conscientious, independent and savvy women, are shocked and outraged at this decidedly old-school position. Take a peek at some of these recent comments from the brand's Facebook page.
"Bye-buy (I MEANT to type that), Eden Foods. The majority of your demographic base just went away. Just like your company will when no one buys your products now."
"You make products that I can't buy from other companies so I want you to know that I will no longer be purchasing your cherry butter, garbanzo beans, cherry juice, organic applesauce or any other Eden product (and I purchase a LOT). As a woman, you leave me no choice. You have been a staple in my life for years but I can no longer support you."
"Shame on you Eden foods. Trying to keep birth control from your employees. No more of your products for me"
It didn't take long for women's groups to mobilize. I received two press releases from UltraViolet just yesterday. Here's a snippet.
“Women are fed up with the conservative war on birth control, and we will mobilize against any company that tries to drag us back to the 1950s,” said co-founder Shaunna Thomas. “50,000 women and men, all organic food consumers, are taking a stand today to demand that Eden Organics back down or face protests."
As a woman, I agree. As a natural consumer invested in changing the face of our food system toward more local sourcing, organic production, GMO-free ingredients and fewer synthetic chemicals in finished food products—all which Eden supports—I'm hesitant to blacklist the company just yet. Like any good relationship, I've learned to expect a few bumps in the road. My hope is:
A) Eden realizes its anti-birth control stance will alienate its core consumers and decides to adjust its position
B) Another producer steps up to offer the same quality products and innovative packaging I've learned to expect
The honeymoon may be over, but I'm not ready to break up just yet.