On the 3ed of August, Vegan activists from Direct Action Everywhere (DXE) swarmed into and disrupted shopping at the Whole Foods at 14th and P sts NW. A DXE investigation Youtube video found that Whole Foods is marketing factory farm products such as eggs from caged hens as “cruelty-free.” DXE called the Whole Foods marketing and endorsements from some animal welfare groups the “invasion of the movement snatchers.” The “cruelty-free” eggs are just one example of fraudulent marketing of factory farm products at Whole Foods and suggest many more similar examples.
DXE’s Youtube video from an “open rescue” of a hen at a “Humane” egg farm used by Whole Foods shows hens crammed into large cages, differing from the 4-hen battery cages normally used by egg producers rather the way dormitory housing differs from 2 person cells in prison. Conditions shown in the video are very crowded and filthy. This so-called “cruelty-free” marketing is one factor used to support Whole Foods prices, which run so high they are commonly known as “Whole Paycheck.” The use of deceptive marketing to get people to pay higher prices is nothing more than fraud and probably could be the basis of criminal charges.
There is a report that a police officer assaulted a Channel 9 (CBS) cameraman while he was filming the DXE protest at the Whole Foods. Due to this incident, I was told TV 9 was going to air footage of the protest in their 5PM news segment later the same day. One would think police would learn that assaulting the media is a good way to become the star of the show and increase, not reduce the attention paid to the underlying issue. Apparently this has not changed since the days when DC Indymedia camera people was chased in both directions over the MD-DC line for photographing cops at fur protests.
There is also a lot of neighborhood and activist history concerning this particular Whole Foods store. They were one of the first grocery stores in the area to replace dumpsters with trash compactors, preventing needy people in the Shaw neighborhood from dumpstering things like unopened crates of fresh produce. They also refused to donate food removed from the shelves to any organization serving the homeless or other needy people. They were a significant factor in the gentrification of Shaw in general and that corner in particular. Because of this, they were raided by protesters during the October Rebellion IMF protests in October 2007. On one night of those protests a black bloc stormed the store, expropriated all the food they could carry, mostly managed to escape, and served the food to the homeless. An estimated 95% of the food got away even after police managed to trap the last portion of the strike team.