Before There Was Hobby Lobby, There Was Eden Foods

In the wake of the Supreme Court's June 30 ruling on the Hobby Lobby (strictly speaking, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby), astute Weavers Way members have re-raised an issue that came up last year, namely that the folks who own Eden Foods, beloved maker of organic Edensoy, also claim religious scruples about paying for employees' birth control. (They're Catholics.)

In 2013, an Eden Foods boycott was proposed, and Weavers Way Purchasing manager Norman Weiss devoted part of his June 2013 Shuttle column to the issue. (Here's a link to that column. One development since then: Silk is no longer wholly owned by Dean.) What Norman said, basically, is that it's complicated: Eden adheres to the highest organic principles, pushes hard for consumer-friendly food labeling and remains independent when its competitors have been swallowed up by multinationals. Who are we rooting for? 

We also polled Weavers Way members, and Membership Coordinator Jonathan Leeds reported on the result in the July 2013 Shuttle. (Here's a link to that story.) To summarize, 82 percent of those who took the poll said their buying decisions are affected by the views of manufacturers and other companies; 64 percent felt strongly about the issue. However, fewer than half thought the Co-op should take an official stand.

So it is complicated. (That's what Norman says, I believe it and that settles it.) That's why the Weavers Way bylaws (login required) mandate require a rather lengthy, deliberative process for our very diverse membership to make important decisions like deciding to boycott a product. The path of least resistance would appear to be to get the issue on the agenda for the fall General Membership Meeting in October. (Exact date still TBD.) That only requires a petition signed by 10 members. (Ten percent of the Co-op membership — that's around 520 households these days — would be needed to call a special meeting, and could take 30 days anyway.)

Stay tuned, and look for some coverage in the August Shuttle, too.

In the meantime, we continue to carry Eden products. Feel free to vote with your wallet. 

— Mary Sweeten, Shuttle editor