As a mother who’s attempting to raise her daughter vegetarian, this story angered me — but not in the way you might expect. This week, Whole Foods Market had accidentally switched labels on two salads, a curried chicken salad and its vegan counterpart, and sold them to states in the northeast on Tuesday and Wednesday. If it had been me, if I’d eaten the chicken instead of the “chik’n,” I’d be unsettled, but it wouldn’t be the end of the freaking world. However, the article on Today.com paints an alarmist picture of the whole scenario:
“I’m sure this type of thing happens far more frequently than we know,” said food management expert Steve Zagor, head of the culinary management program at the Institute of Culinary Education. “In a business with hundreds of products requiring labels and identification, it is likely that many incidents go undetected or unreported. Whether it’s misidentified fish, or types of meat, this is probably not uncommon.”
The article also sympathizes with people who don’t eat meat for religious reasons, or because of allergies, and laments how these people may be feeling after the debacle. But really, what do you expect when you buy from the grocery store?
I definitely think we should all have access to clean, fresh, preservative-free transparent ethical food. But just because this is my belief doesn’t make it true. And if you believe you’re literally going to drop dead or be struck down by God for letting an animal product touch your tongue, I hate to say it, but it’s your responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen. If it’s that important to you, buy from a local farm. Grow it yourself. Know where your food comes from.
Like I said, I would be annoyed if I ate meat or fed meat unknowingly to my daughter. But I wouldn’t pick a fight with Whole Foods about it — it’s just understood, for me, that when I buy from the grocery store I’m taking a little bit of a risk. It does annoy me, on the other hand, when I’m eating with family and they try to sneak meat into my daughter’s mouth. Even after I’ve said no, no thank you, we don’t eat meat, they will continue to pester me (especially my mother, as good as her intentions are) to let her have a bite. This is a true breach of trust, one that has caused more than a few terse conversations and dinner table arguments.
But Whole Foods is not your mother, or my mother. It does not have your best interests in mind. So with a mix-up like this, it’s better to just move on. This is no reason to antagonize the company, because Whole Foods is just that, a company, one that’s trying to maximize efficiency and profit.