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Not to their tastes

August 15, 2008

Re "Whole Foods, gone bad," Opinion, Aug. 12

Matthew DeBord trivializes the reason people shop at Whole Foods Market: the desire to eat food that is good for them. Many Whole Foods Market customers believe that wellness through healthy eating is a fundamental part of living -- not an indulgence, as DeBord suggests. We are proud to have been the pioneer in making high-quality natural and organic food broadly available to consumers nationwide.

What distinguishes Whole Foods Market are the number and variety of natural and organic products we offer consumers, at pricing that is very competitive. Our "365" and "365 Organic" private labels help shoppers stretch their dollars. We also provide exotic offerings such as tapas, olive bars and chocolate fountains. We know that shoppers who come from all walks of life, contrary to what DeBord believes, appreciate these choices. Goodness and value don't have to be mutually exclusive.

Michael Besancon

President

Whole Foods Market

Southern Pacific Region

Sherman Oaks

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DeBord's piece is clueless. He is projecting his own anger at "affluent Berkeley bohemians, idealistic farmers" and everyone else motivated to grow, sell or purchase organic food. His premise seems to be that there is no value in buying these products instead of, as he says, food "grown in vast fields rendered toxic by industrial fertilizers and pesticides."

He believes that farmers grow and shoppers pay extra for organic food out of some abstract sense of ethical virtuosity, or out of their angry need to stick it to the "rapacious mega-corporations," not because they simply want a higher-quality product.

Get real! Sure, Whole Foods and other stores selling premium products are going to suffer when there is a bad economy. And I agree that Whole Foods has gotten too gourmet and moved away from its original premise. But those of us who buy organic products are looking for, and paying for, value in the quality of what we put in our bodies.

Cooper Zale

Northridge

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