Whole Foods Market is taking another big step in its continuing Back to Basics (my term) campaign outlined by CEO John Mackey last year. The natural foods chain has rounded up a few dozen films about food and the food industry and is hosting more than 150 screenings around the country.
The films will be shown throughout April as part of a new challenge called “Let’s Retake Our Plates,” of which the screenings are the centerpiece.
In promoting the effort, Whole Foods uses language one normally doesn’t find in the lexicon of supermarket retailers, who are notorious for trying to offend no one and please everyone.
“What we put on our plates affects the world and its people every day. We cast a ballot with every bite,” the website for the campaign tells readers. “We vote with our food dollars for organic, for ethical trade, for planet-friendly, for whatever is important to us. The more we vote for better choices, the more change happens in the food industry and in the world.”
The films, most of which were made within the past 3 years (but include at least one doozy: Soylent Green, set in 1973 New York City and starring Charlton “People! Save the People!” Heston). They’re being shown in public spaces, libraries and, in some cases, Whole Foods stores. Do they sell microwave popcorn there?
Let’s Retake Our Plates is an interesting concept — almost like an eco/foodie film festival, without the attitude. Most of these films had very limited distribution when they were first released, and Whole Foods gets credit for promoting this second round of publicity.
The chain is actually lucky to be able to offer so many recent movies on the topic of food. I suppose we can thank Michael Moore for mainstreaming the type of filmmaking used in these mostly documentaries. Almost all of them are provocative, with a singular, critical point of view. It’s a perspective that dovetails nicely with Whole Foods’ ongoing strategy to reclaim its mantle as the retailer on a mission.
(Photo credit: ScypaxPictures)