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Click here to see original vet letters

November 7, 2002

John Mackey, Margaret Wittenberg
Whole Foods
601 N. Lamar, Ste. 300
Austin, TX 78703

Dear Mr. Mackey and Ms. Wittenberg:

Viva! has reviewed a copy of the brief write-up by Dr. Joy Mench regarding her two visits to Grimaud Farms for the purpose of observing and commenting on their operations at your request. The enclosed letters from two veterinarians comment on her observations. One of the veterinarians, Dr. Ned Buyukmihci, Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine (click here to see letters from vets), has been involved in farmed animal welfare for years and, in fact, has his own sanctuary which includes hundreds of birds. Dr. Paula Kislak has also treated birds.

Because there seems to be some confusion, let me clarify our position: Viva! started our "Ducks Out of Water" campaign in September 2000 to expose an industry that not only raises and kills ducks for food but also conducts painful bill-trimming, deprives the ducks of any opportunity to act in their natural behavior, and even deprives them of the ability to immerse in water (which is necessary for them to maintain proper mental and physical health). We targeted duck factory farms, such as Grimaud Farms and others, because they employ cruel and inhumane practices.

The public is outraged when we tell them about how Grimaud treats ducks. Most stores have acted responsibly by pulling duck meat, both to please their customers and to withdraw support for such abuse.

Whole Foods, on the other hand, has decided to defend this abuse. (Of course, not all of your stores have done this.) Most peculiar to us is that Whole Foods' corporate office has turned a deaf ear to the thousands of customers who have expressed their concern over this issue, with potential adverse impact to your reputation.

As you know, your customers expect honesty. Even if they wanted duck meat, most would assume these birds are treated well and are not denied all of their natural behaviors.

If Whole Foods has developed some kind of relationship with Grimaud, it seems to us that it should end relations with it until it is no longer supporting animal cruelty and possibly harming your reputation as a caring company. We cannot understand how this one farm can be more important to you than years of loyal customer and shareholder support.

As you know, Viva! is opposed to the killing of any animal for food. Though we know Whole Foods and Viva! will never agree on that point, we did at least believe in the beginning that you deserved the good reputation you had created for yourself. We no longer do.


We once again ask that you reconsider any sales of duck meat in your stores. Thank you.

Sincerely,

lauren Ornelas
US Campaigns Director
Viva!USA