here to see original vet letters
November 7, 2002
John Mackey, Margaret Wittenberg
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.
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.