Whole Foods announced this week that it plans to scale back expansion and eliminate its quarterly dividend. Has consumption of organic and sustainable foods taken that much of a downturn? It would appear so. Samuel Fromartz, author of Organic, Inc., writes intelligently about the topic this week on his blog, Chews Wise. Read the whole post here.
This is a horrendous climate for any company but look at the long-term trends. I’ve repeatedly stated that organic foods, sustainable foods, farmers’ markets, and the like, are not a fad. They have only been growing against a troubling drumbeat of news about food safety and health. There is ever growing awareness about rising obesity, tainted food, and what we’re actually putting down our gullets. This supra-economic food trend is evident in everything from the nutritional information now demanded on New York City menus to the fear of imported food from China. Cheap, we know, has a price, and more than a few of us are unwilling to pay it regardless of our shrinking family budgets.
Personally, outrageous gas prices and higher food costs haven't affected my grocery buying habits much (I do actually buy predominantly organic produce and dairy for my family of four), but I can certainly see where the decisions get tough. We have cooked at home more often, driven our car to the store (and elsewhere) less, and focused on basic wholesome foods as a result of feeling the pinch. But when it comes down to it, I'm not willing to expose my family to health-compromising pesticides and fake ingredients to save a few bucks. I'd rather scale back on extras like chevre and gourmet flat-breads (sadly!). What do you think about the place of these "premium" foods in a stressed economy? What keeps you buying organic and sustainable if you do?