The Organic Hobby Lobby: Eden Foods Fights Obamacare Contraception Mandate, Customers Fight Back
For the past couple of weeks, Hobby Lobby has been all over the news.
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby questioned the role of government in women's reproductive (or really basic) rights and the intended meaning of "religious freedom."
The craft-store chain took its fight against the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and, sadly, won -- because it makes perfect sense that group of old men are making decisions about women's bodies.
Whether you agree with the verdict, disagree, or couldn't care less, there's no doubt you've heard about the company and its efforts.
What you probably haven't heard about, however, is Eden Foods. The widely distributed organic company, available at health-food stores, Target, and Whole Foods, has also sued the Obama administration over the mandate.
As news gets around, customers have been staging a backlash.
Michigan-based Eden Foods was started in Ann Arbor in the late '60s as a co-op specializing in macrobiotic products, including whole grains and local produce -- you know, hippie stuff. It claims it's "the oldest natural and organic food company in North America and the largest independent manufacturer of dry grocery organic foods."
Sound great, right?
Not when it comes to health care.
CEO Michael Potter has been specifying what coverage Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan could offer to his employees for years. Certain lifestyle drugs, like smoking cessation medications, Viagra, and contraception, were excluded from the plan.
Then Obamacare came around and his insurance company alerted Potter he couldn't prohibit contraception coverage. He filed a lawsuit on March 20, 2013. As a result, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Potter had no say in the matter, that he had to allow birth control:
[I]n accordance with the law of the circuit announced in [previously-decided case] Autocam, we hold that Eden Foods, a secular, for-profit corporation, cannot establish that it can exercise religion, and that Potter cannot establish his standing to challenge obligations placed only upon the corporation, not upon him as an individual.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby's ban on contraception from its insurance plan, it's asked the Court of Appeals to rethink the Eden Foods case again. And it's not looking good, given the high court's landmark decision.
While Potter will most likely be able to ban contraception from his employees insurance plan once again, there is a big difference between Eden Foods and Hobby Lobby: their demographics.
One would think that the customer base willing to pay $2.84 for a can of sustainable, GMO-free, organic beans or $19.49 for extra virgin Spanish olive oil would most likely sit on the liberal side of the political fence. You know, yippies (upper-class hippies who can afford such an expense).
That seems to be the case. Many protesters have taken to the internet to boycott the company. CREDO Action has set up a page on Eden Foods, and it claims that "over 100,000 CREDO activists have pledged not to buy Eden Foods' products until Eden stops its attack on women's health."
Many activists have also taken to Twitter to express disgust with the company's lawsuit.
Others have taken up the issue with Whole Foods, urging the company to pull Eden Foods products from its shelves. But it doesn't look as though the grocery store will do so.
According to an article published by Forbes, Whole Foods spokesperson Michael Silverman stated, "When reviewing products for our shelves, our primary consideration is whether a product's ingredients meet our quality standards."
Silverman went on to say, "We recognize and respect that customers have their own personal criteria for buying or not buying a product, and it's every shopper's right to vote with their dollars on that basis. We hope that if people have feedback for Eden Foods, they share it with them directly."
Potter and Eden Foods are sure to remain in the spotlight while the case continues to make its way through the court system. In the meantime, stay tuned.
For more information about the boycott, visit credoaction.com/the-next-step-on-eden-foods.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Find out about upcoming events and special offers happening in the South Florida dining scene.