Will Amazon Have To Dilute The Whole Foods Brand?

Jim Prevor at Perishable Pundit makes a good point: Amazon can’t scale up Whole Foods without diluting the concept of Whole Foods.

Between A Rock And A Hard Place: Whole Foods Can’t Scale, And Amazon Can’t Upscale… The Challenge Of Being Unique And High Volume (It’s the next-to-last article on this page so scroll down.)

Why can’t Amazon scale up their new Whole Foods stores?

All the things that make Whole Foods special to its customers, whether through perception or reality — unique products, unique supply chains, the imposition of unique ethical values on the supply chain — all these things limit the scalability of the concept.

There’s also a limited physical environment:

There are just not enough neighborhoods with high education and income to sustain massive roll-out and still support the traditional Whole Foods concept.

What could Amazon’s Whole Foods stores turn into?

Perhaps Amazon will want to use these locations for click-and-collect. If they do so, they will have to, for all practical purposes, end Whole Foods as we know it. These will be Amazon stores filled with lockers with perhaps a fresh-foods or convenience-store portion for impulse purchases or foodservice operations to sell people a coffee or drink or pizza when they come to collect their stuff.

In the end, he draws a comparison with luxury cars:

You can’t observe that people really like Ferraris and then think you can buy the company and expand the brand by selling Ferraris to millions of people. You can change Ferarri, call a $30,000 car a Ferrari and, for a few years live on the brand legacy built when the name meant something.

Gandhi’s Spinning Was A Political Act

In my prior post, I included the photo of Gandhi at his spinning wheel that appeared in Life Magazine in 1946. Here’s why Gandhi spun:

Spinning for India’s Independence, American Journal of Public Health, January 2008

THIS PHOTOGRAPH OF Mohandas K. Gandhi (October 2, 1869–January 30, 1948), dressed only in a loincloth and working at his spinning wheel on the deck of the SS Rajputana, was taken in 1931 as Gandhi traveled to London to attend a high-level roundtable conference with British officials.1 Gandhi was leader of the Indian National Congress and the major force in its drive for independence. He had already led successful non-violent civil disobedience and tax resistance campaigns against British rule, culminating in the 250-mile “Salt March” from Ahmedabad to the Indian Ocean at Dandi (March 12–April 6, 1930).2 After violently assaulting the marchers, the British imprisoned Gandhi and 60000 supporters. Because of adverse worldwide publicity, the British eventually released Gandhi and in March 1931 negotiated an agreement with him for the release of the remaining political prisoners in exchange for the suspension of civil disobedience. The British invited Gandhi to London in late 1931, supposedly to discuss the transfer of power. The conference disappointed Gandhi but provided him with opportunities to win popular support. In 1930, he had already been declared Time’s “Man of the Year”; in 1931, he won over such leading figures in London as George Bernard Shaw, Maria Montessori, and Charlie Chaplin. His every move was followed closely by the press, and after an audience at Buckingham Palace, he was asked if he had felt underdressed. His widely reported comment, expressed with typical Gandhian wit, was, “The king had on enough for both of us.”3(p258)

Gandhi’s manner of dress and commitment to hand spinning were essential elements of his philosophy and politics. He chose the traditional loincloth as a rejection of Western culture and a symbolic identification with the poor of India. His personal choice became a powerful political gesture as he urged his more privileged followers to copy his example and discard—or even burn—their European-style clothing and return with pride to their ancient, precolonial culture.4 Gandhi claimed that spinning thread in the traditional manner also had material advantages, as it would create the basis for economic independence and the possibility of survival for India’s impoverished rural multitudes.5 This commitment to traditional cloth making was also part of a larger swadeshi movement, which aimed for the boycott of all British goods. As Gandhi explained to Charlie Chaplin in 1931, the return to spinning did not mean a rejection of all modern technology but of the exploitive and controlling economic and political system in which textile manufacture had become entangled. Gandhi said, “Machinery in the past has made us dependent on England, and the only way we can rid ourselves of the dependence is to boycott all goods made by machinery. This is why we have made it the patriotic duty of every Indian to spin his own cotton and weave his own cloth.”6(p48)

I don’t want to use the photo of Gandhi that accompanied this article because it does not seem to be publicly available. So, here’s Gandhi around the same time, arriving in England on his way to the London conference:

Gandhi, accompanied by his entourage, arriving at Folkestone, England in 1931 (AP)

The photo is from SnapPAPress.net: 29 Things You May Not Know About Mahatma Gandhi, which is a great tutorial of his life.

Gandhi was born in India, into a privileged caste. He studied at the University of Bombay and traveled to England when he was 18 to finish his law studies at the University of London.

Gandhi, seated center, surrounded by his co-workers at his law office in Johannesburg, South Africa (AP)

Gandhi, 76, At His Spinning Wheel

Gandhi and his spinning wheel, 1946. Caption from LIFE. “At 76, the Mahatma is in good physical condition. He weighs 110 pounds, but he is not so frail as he looks.” – Margaret Bourke-White

From: Gandhi and His Spinning Wheel: The Story Behind an Iconic Photo, Time Life, September 2014:

In typed notes that accompanied Bourke-White’s film when it was sent from India to LIFE’s New York offices in the spring of 1946, the significance of the simple spinning wheel in the photo is made abundantly clear:

[Gandhi] spins every day for 1 hr. beginning usually at 4. All members of his ashram must spin. He and his followers encourage everyone to spin. Even M. B-W was encouraged to lay [aside] her camera to spin. . . . When I remarked that both photography and spinning were handicrafts, they told me seriously, “The greater of the 2 is spinning.” Spinning is raised to the heights almost of a religion with Gandhi and his followers. The spinning wheel is sort of an Ikon to them. Spinning is a cure all, and is spoken of in terms of the highest poetry.

Gandhi was murdered two years after this photo was taken:

Nathuram Vinayak Godse was a right wing advocate of Hindu nationalism who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, shooting him in the chest three times at point blank range in New Delhi on 30 January 1948.

Godse was hanged for the murder a year later.

Apple Crumble (Fat-Free)

Ingredients

Filling:
4 medium apples, not peeled, 1/4 slice (I used Gala)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons sugar

Thickener:
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

Topping:
1/4 cup Grape Nuts cereal
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons applesauce

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Make topping: Mix Grape Nuts, oats, cinnamon, and sugar in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix honey, maple syrup, and applesauce. Blend with oat mixture. Set aside.
3. Make thickener: Stir together apple juice and cornstarch. Set aside.
4. Make filling: In a bowl, toss apple slices with lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar. Place apples in a glass baking dish.
5. Spread topping over apples.
6. Pour thickener over apples and topping.
7. Cover and bake for about an hour and 10 minutes or until apples are tender and filling is bubbling. You can remove the cover during the last 5 or 10 minutes for a browner, crunchier topping.

This is adapted from McDougall’s recipe for Apple Crisp. I left the skins on the apples; that’s where the nutrition and flavor are! I omitted the raisins and changed the sweeteners a bit. It’s not exactly fat-free because there’s a little naturally-occurring fat in oats and Grape Nuts. It’s not vegan because of the honey but you can substitute maple syrup.

Here’s a photo of the cover on my dish. The dish is about 6.5″ square. If you don’t have a cover, use parchment paper topped with aluminum foil.

Apple Cinnamon Granola (Fat-Free)

Granola fresh out the oven cooling on parchment paper.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats, “extra thick” if you have them
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cooked apple. Use these instructions. Or use about 3/4 cup applesauce.
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  1. Mix oats, salt, cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Preheat oven to 240 degrees F convection. If not using convection, preheat to 300.
  4. Cook apple, if using. Use these instructions: Spiced Apple In 5 Minutes, omitting any salt and spices.
  5. Heat cooked apple (or apple sauce), maple syrup, honey, and vanilla gently for one minute.
  6. Combine apple mixture and oats in a large bowl. Mix until all oats are moist.
  7. Spread evenly and thinly on a lined cookie sheet.
  8. Cook for about an hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Notes:

  • I created this recipe in an effort to use up a bag of extra thick oats. They actually work better for granola than regular old fashioned oats. Bob’s Red Mill makes them.
  • You can add more salt, spices (e.g. nutmeg, ginger, cloves), sweeteners, nuts, raisins, etc. This is just basic recipe. (Raisins should get mixed in after the granola cools because they burn.)
  • Using convection bake instead of regular bake allows you to use a lower temperature which helps the granola get dry and crispy before it gets brown, a benefit when you’re not using oil. The movement of air aids crispness too. Fine Cooking has a great little video that explains how a convection oven works. I’ve added a link below.
  • You’ll regret not using parchment paper. I did!
  • I store it in a brown paper bag at room temperature to keep it crispy.

How a convection oven works (click the picture and it will take you to the video):
ConvectionOvenHowItWorks

Let Me Ask You A Question About ConsumerLab

Photo not related to Consumerlab.

ConsumerLab is a private company that has supplements tested and generates reports for a fee. Here’s my question: If you knew that ConsumerLab was getting paid by the industry they claim to police, would it change your belief in their reports?

ConsumerLab uses the word “independent” throughout their website. But they take money from supplement manufacturers for “a proprietary certification program, licensing fees, contents re-publication license fees and advertising.” Results of proprietary tests are owned by the supplement company. What if ConsumerLab included a brand in their testing lineup that performed poorly? Would they strike it from their report if the company paid them many thousands over the years for proprietary testing? I don’t know. But it strikes me as a conflict of interest.

It strikes Marc Ullman the same way. In an open letter to ConsumerLab founder and president, Tod Cooperman, Ullman said:

Your failure to let the consumers that you claim to be so interested in protecting know that the companies you are endorsing pay at least part of your salary seems to be, at best, a grave oversight.

In a follow-up letter, Ullman itemized his concerns to Cooperman:

In particular, I felt a need to raise issues relating to your apparent practice of taking money from members of the industry that Consumerlab.com purports to police; your endorsement of a product line manufactured by a company that seems to have paid Consumerlab.com a significant amount of money over the years; the number of labs Consumerlab.com contracts with since it is not a “lab” itself; whether Consumerlab.com audits the numerous labs it pays to conduct its testing and; yet another of your seemingly endless series of negative comments about the supplement industry.

Marc Ullman is a partner in the Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman law firm. Its clients include supplement manufacturers. Still, he has a point.

ConsumerLab is not a lab. They send supplements to third-party labs. Are these labs independent? What’s their track record? We, as consumers, don’t know. Also … Why wouldn’t a supplement company go to a lab directly? Why pay ConsumerLab? Is it to ensure a positive review? Or a convenient omission?

So, ConsumerLab is not a lab, and does not exist purely for the consumer. They take money from both consumers and industry. How can they be objective? If it is true that, “ConsumerLab.com reports that its main revenue comes from sales of online subscriptions,” why not stop taking industry money? Disavow your relationship with the supplement industry and sell yourself as impartial.

They seem to be, primarily, a money-making middleman.

This is why private companies should not be taking the lead on supplement testing. The FDA should, but they’re not, and they never will, because there’s too much money to be made selling grass clippings. (That does not mean I don’t think supplements are helpful, it means I think they should be evaluated, independently, by reputable entities.)

Thank you, Virginia, for the heads-up.

Roasted Potatoes And Carrots (Fat-Free)

This tastes like beef stew without the beef. Well, maybe you have to be meat-free a while to think that.

Ingredients (serves 2 as a side dish):

2 Yukon Gold potatoes, 1/4 inch sliced
2 carrots, peeled, cut into chunks
1/3 to 1/2 cup sweet onion, cut into chunks
1 stalk celery, diced
3 or 4 cloves garlic, peeled or not but remember not to eat the skin

1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon tamari
Spices (parsley, sage, thyme, paprika, oregano)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place potatoes in a layer on the bottom of a small glass casserole dish or dutch oven. Top with carrots, onions, celery, garlic. Mix tamari, spices, and water together and pour over vegetables. Cover (parchment and aluminum foil or a cover for your dish if you have it). Bake for 2 hours. Check midway to make sure liquid has not evaporated away (add more water if needed) and to gently toss vegetables into the broth.

I adapted this from a McDougall’s recipe of the same name. She uses a prepared vegetable broth instead of water but I don’t like the ingredients in those. So I added diced celery to make up for it (like a mirepoix). She uses poultry seasoning which I also used. I like the aroma. I don’t pre-cook my garlic. The biggest difference is that I bake it for two hours instead of one. The vegetables are softer but still intact as you can see. And they’ve absorbed more of the flavor of the broth.