Sunday, August 10, 2014

On Gabe Nabors, Mustard Seed Market and Eden Foods

Montrose location
On Friday I had lunch with Gabe Nabors of Mustard Seed Market. His gracious invitation was in response to an open letter I penned to him about his store, how much I love it and why I will never pluck an Eden Foods product from the shelves.

Gabe and I discussed the Eden Foods controversy. I believe the Edens' management is endeavoring to poke a one-way hole in the corporate veil at the expense of women in the name of religion. If the Hobby Lobby decision is any indication, Eden Foods will likely be successful. If the courts won't move to protect my daughter's rights, I will.

"I think it's wrong," said Gabe of the Eden Foods move. Hence, the two of us seemed to be on the same ideological page or at least in the same chapter. Yet Eden Foods products continue to line the shelves of his family's stores.

Per Gabe, the integrity of Eden Foods' products remains impeccable despite the politics of the home office. They are popular with his customers. Gabe was quick to say that he has indeed fielded complaints and opinions about his decision to continue stocking Eden Foods via email, phone calls, social media and in person.

"This is the first lunch," he said of our meeting.

Despite those interactions, Gabe said he does not think the majority of the people who purchase Eden Foods know about the controversy.

"The noise is not loud enough," he said of the collective protest.

Inviting produce at Mustard Seed
Gabe brought up Stacey's Pita Chips and Naked Juice. Both were made by indie companies that eventually got bought up by PepsiCo. The chips maintained their integrity, Naked Juice did not. Despite being one of the store's best selling products, Mustard Seed pulled Naked Juice from its shelves. Stacy's chips remain. Even though Gabe wasn't exactly thrilled about the PepsiCo purchase, he still believes in Stacy's chips and stands by the product--an endorsement that doesn't come lightly.

Which is pretty much where he is with Eden Foods. The product continues to meet his standards and remains popular with shoppers. Protests have not pushed him over the tipping point.

Gabe said he encourages people to "vote with their dollars." While not everyone agrees with that philosophy, Seattle customers voted Eden out of one co-op. Either way, I surely respect Gabe's response.

The most telling part of the meeting had to do with photos. Mustard Seed does not permit photos and Gabe's mom interrupted me as I took a couple of shots before the meeting. She did not know who I was or why I was there. When I explained I was meeting with Gabe, she said if he okays the pictures, it's fine to use them.

So I showed Gabe the photos. I only had a couple, one of which showed some of Eden Foods products on his shelves. His brow collapsed as it flashed on my tiny camera screen.

"You don't want me to use this?" I asked.

"I'd rather you didn't," he said, "but it's up to you."

So while the contents of the Eden Foods' packages remains pristine, the exterior of them has been sullied, ideologically speaking. In that, I sense a subtle victory.


Dear reader, I urge you to shop heartily and often at one of northeast Ohio's finest family run businesses, Mustard Seed Market, which continues to garner my enthusiastic endorsement. During our chat, I learned that Gabe's family owns a giant blueberry farm, which I intend to visit. The company is constantly engaged in community service, such as supporting the Cleveland Children's Hunger Alliance and offering an array of educational classes. The store's produce is usually picked from an Ohio farm within 24 hours of being displayed.

But please leave the Eden Foods products on the shelves. Better yet, call the store, contact Gabe on Twitter, or chime in on Mustard Seed's facebook page and tell the Nabors family what you think about Eden Foods. Maybe we can get those cartons and cans so dirty on the outside, Gabe and his staff will reach the tipping point and take them off the shelves just like Weaver Market did in North Carolina.

Confidential to Mr. Gabe Nabors: Thanks for lunch. The sushi roll was delicious and it was an honor to chat with you.

*  *  *


Bill said...

Eden Foods is a $55M, 128 employee, privately held company that has never included birth control, Viagra, vasectomy, in their employee insurance plan. I don't know if any of the employees have quit after finding out that they weren't covered but I do know that if the well organized boycott of this fine company is successful, some of those 128 employees (or maybe all of them) will be looking for work. Fist pump?

Michael Lawless said...

Eden Foods speaks with forked tongue?

Erin O'Brien said...

Yes, Mr. Potter is giving his employees, distributors and suppliers some real headaches by turning his company into a religious for-profit. Maybe he should have thought about that before he endeavored to slash a hole in the corporate veil.

Funny thing about Potter (Eden Foods owner), per the attached link, he was convicted of manslaughter in 1989 and sentenced 8-15 years. The book excerpt also touches on some flap about one of their products being marketed for babies with some "erroneous" claims that eventually cost Potter and Eden Foods more than $130,000 in fines.


I wonder WHY more info on that stuff is so hard to find ...

Anonymous said...

"...if the well organized boycott of this fine company is successful, some of those 128 employees (or maybe all of them) will be looking for work. Fist pump?"-Bill

Reckon Pro-lifers have cost anyone a job Bill? Glad to see you becoming a champion of the worker.


Bill said...

Seems as though this Boycott has taken on a religious fervor.

Bill said...

Here's part of that letter from the Seattle Co-op to Eden.

"Though we are not banning Eden products in our store, we recognize that we must shift away from our long-standing confidence in and reliance on your company. In cases where there are equivalent products from comparably respectable companies, we are moving away from your offering. Based on our review, we will be retaining only 20 percent of the Eden products that we have recently stocked."

Is that comical or what? Whimpy. No Balls. We're 80% outraged by your lack of birth control coverage but, only if we can find products that sell as well as yours. Oh yeah. You can rest assured that we'll be digging into the details of your competitor's insurance coverage. (They didn't say that. I'm just assuming) LOL. Now THAT'S taking a stand.

Dudesworthy said...

Bill, it's not personal - it's all just business.

There's a whole thing at the moment about the lack of clear evidence for any nutritional benefits derived from eating organic foods, but none of it matters because the key business driver powering the market for organic food producers is the loss of consumer confidence in intensive agriculture.

This is an industry where branding and presentation matter as much as quality and taste, and consumers paying a premium for an organic label are even more brand aware than usual.

Eden have screwed up their messaging and they'll be driven out of business by companies run by people who know their customers.

This is just the free-market in action.

Bill said...

You missed the point, Dude. The Seattle Co-op hypocrite management, pretended to be offended by the Eden insurance coverage.

Bill said...

So, let's see. The Eden/Potter guy is convicted of manslaughter, serves time and then is fined for false advertising. That, however, is not a reason to not do business with him. He doesn't include contraceptives in his employee's insurance coverage (which he pays for). Now that is a reason to boycott. What's wrong with this picture?

Erin O'Brien said...

Bill! So glad to see you've found a reason to avoid Eden Foods! Glad to have you on board the boycott.

I wonder if Mr. Potter got churched up before or after the manslaughter thing.

Yuno said...

Just to let you know that I really like your work :) Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Bill's such a tease. If we boycotted every business in America run by a Sociopath it would cost too many people jobs. No way he'd go along with standing on that principle.


Dudesworthy said...

Totally did not miss the point Bill. You're just barking up the wrong tree with this 'hypocrisy' thing.

If that letter was intended for Eden then why was it published? I tell ya those cats in Seattle are sexy business animals - they wrote that letter for their customers. They're not being hypocrites, they're showing their customers that they share the same values.

You gotta think sneaky if you're gonna be a capitalist Bill.

Anonymous said...

I dunno. If the Supreme Court is going to pretend that a corporation is a person for the purposes of campaign bribe...err...donations, or pretend that campaign bribes...err...campaign contributions are the equivalent of speech, or that a corporation can have a spiritual life, the folks at the Seattle Co-Op have every right, nay, an OBLIGATION to do a little roleplaying of their own.

People seldom, if ever, consider a boycott of a company they feel ambivalent about. And the idea of boycott is to change your erstwhile business partner's behavior. Boycotts resulting in the shuttering of a place of business are failed exercises. By reducing a targeted company's share of your budget outlays while simultaneously letting them know your reason for doing so, one makes their point while keeping a foot in the door for communication's sake. [sounds familiar? Like Erin did with Mr Nabor?] You're keeping some leverage. That's neither 'whimpy' nor testicularly deficient.

Now where are my notes about the Colorado River Compact of 1922?


Bill said...

Dude and MR, the definition of boycott is well established but, if you want to redefine it for the purpose of trying to disprove my point......whatever.

E, I never join boycotts. I have, of course, for various reasons, never done business with certain companies. But, I didn't ask other people to join me. For example, Bank of America was where I received my first rejection for a credit card upon being discharged from the Navy. I've never done business with them. I'm sure it's been tough on them.

Anonymous said...

A *POINT*? My affection for the right-wing never completely ebbs; they are always laying low, anxious to do their part if called upon.

Today's case involves taking two unlike things, an individual person and a corporation, and pretending that they are alike.

They're not.

Bill, can you post YOUR source for that definition of 'boycott'? If there is a contrapuntal word in my comments I don't see it. And I'd be interested in the source's thought processes getting to that outcome.

I'd say the facts on the ground have themselves redefined 'boycott' under a situation like this, because no two cases are exactly alike. There are a million variables to consider.


Bill said...




verb: boycott; 3rd person present: boycotts; past tense: boycotted; past participle: boycotted; gerund or present participle: boycotting


withdraw from commercial or social relations with (a country, organization, or person) as a punishment or protest.

synonyms: spurn, snub, shun, avoid, abstain from, wash one's hands of, turn one's back on, reject, veto

"they boycotted the elections"

antonyms: support

refuse to buy or handle (goods) as a punishment or protest.

refuse to cooperate with or participate in (a policy or event).


noun: boycott; plural noun: boycotts


a punitive ban that forbids relations with certain groups, cooperation with a policy, or the handling of goods.

synonyms: ban, veto, embargo, prohibition, sanction, restriction; More

avoidance, rejection, refusal

"a boycott of imported lumber"


from the name of Captain C. C. Boycott (1832–97), an English land agent in Ireland, so treated in 1880, in an attempt instigated by the Irish to get rents reduced.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, good ol' Bill. From time to time you're correct with a few facts, but then you miss the point completely. I wonder why I am somehow almost never surprised by that phenomenon.

"Source citations? We ain't got no source citation information. I don't have to show you any stinking source information!"

Keep'er rolling...

Bill said...

You need a source for the definition of Boycott? Try a dictionary. Crickets on the water storage? You guys are entertaining. I'll give you that.

Bill said...

So, the Seattle co-op is NOT participating in a Boycott. They are, maybe, selling less of the Eden product. They're just pretending to be concerned about Eden's insurance coverage and "might" reduce their orders by as much as 80%. That's NOT a boycott. That's a cop out. Read the letter.

Anonymous said...

Nobody asked for a definition, Bill, and here's how you can tell that that's the case: if you look in the comments nobody asked for one. Capisce?

The SOURCE, on the other hand can give background ON the source, where they were published if relevant, and when the comments were made and where. What if any, school of thought they're a part of. Some context for their comments. And

'Crickets' on storage? That's because there's no more water to be had. One could build a state-of-the-art reservoir, safe, efficient, with an enormous capacity. With no rain? It's useless. Lake Powell, one of the biggest, if not the biggest, reservoirs in the nation, hasn't been full since 1999. Adding storage capacity now, at the height of a 15-year drought would be fairly useless. The monies would be better expended on desalinization research. It's the only way forward if we're going to try and maintain 40 million humans in the desert. Storage? Maybe later, bit not at this moment.It's like telling the Emperor the problem with his new wardrobe is insufficient closet space.


Anonymous said...


Bill said...

Would you please bring up the emperor and his clothes metaphor again? Not sure why that's so popular here. In any case, looks as though we, CA, are going to get some more, much needed, storage. Desalinization sounds good too. The general public uses about 4% of the available water. Water is really expensive and, when we use less, the price rises. My highest water bill (July or August) is about $600. Yep. That's for 1 month. Granted, I have a lot of landscaping but, it's not that we're getting something for nothing. During wet periods, we should store as much as possible and not just let the water run off. That would help us get through long drought periods. It's not perfect but, why not collect more of what would otherwise just run off..

Why don't you read the letter from the Seattle co-op and enlighten everyone about how that's a Boycott. We won't need a source.

Anonymous said...


Now that you've acknowledged the closet joke I can start working on the next one, so thanks. I'm leaning towards 'in the interests of political correctness they're changing the nickname of meth from 'hillbilly heroin' to 'Hillbillify.' Film at 11.

Gathering and storing more rainfall is going to exacerbate another of your environmental problems-the brushfires. People in SoCal are going to be relieved when it's "only" an earthquake they have to deal with today. Are homes out there equipped to re-use 'gray water', ie waste water that's not sewage? Something's gotta give.