Hobby Lobby isn’t the only company that thinks not paying for contraception is good for business. Popular organic food brand Eden Foods is seeking similar rights.
The Michigan-based organic food company, Eden Foods, has been fighting the U.S. government for more than a year over whether or not its employee insurance program must cover contraception for women.
Even though this reads an awful lot like the recent Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court separated the suits, and in its recent ruling, vacated a judgment against Eden Foods. The suit is now heading back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for review.
Eden Foods says that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is violating its religious beliefs about contraception. “We were convinced that actions of the federal government were illegal, and so filed a formal objection,” the company said in a statement on its website. “The recent Supreme Court decision [on Hobby Lobby] confirms, at least in part, that we were correct.”
Founder and CEO of Eden Foods, Michael Potter, is a devout Catholic who compared contraceptives to “lifestyle drugs,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Potter does not believe companies “should be forced to fund insurance that includes that coverage.”
Regardless of where the Supreme Court stands on Hobby Lobby or Eden Food’s position, the discussion brings up a lot of questions about insurance and employees rights (and what in the world is wrong with employers these days). But no question seems more looming than whether or not we should still support these companies. In particular, should we still buy Eden Foods’ products? While Hobby Lobby may have its devoted consumers, Eden Foods’ story is of a different ilk. One that matters a little bit more to a progressive future. Or at least, used to.
One of the “original” natural and organic food brands (the company claims to be the oldest natural food brand in North America), Eden has long honored a commitment to organic farming practices. In fact, it is so picky about organics that it refuses to put the USDA organic seal on its products claiming that the National Organic Program doesn’t do organics justice. It supports local farmers when it can and was one of the first brands to remove BPA from its canned goods. It has taken a stand against GMOs, and Eden Foods is one of the last privately held organic brands of its size (annual revenues around $50 million). It has long stood for integrity and quality in the organic food sector. It’s Facebook page header reads “Organic agriculture is society’s brightest hope for positive change.” But now maybe it should read more like “Now leaving the Organic Garden of Eden, please dispose of your apple cores in the compost bin.”
So perhaps the better question here is: What matters most to Eden Foods? Is it an employer’s right to not pay for contraception or is it integrity in our food system? Because I’m guessing Potter and Eden can’t have it both ways. Even Potter admits that most of the feedback has been negative. The organic customer comes in all shapes and sizes, but if you average her out, chances are good she wants the right to do with her body whatever she pleases. And if that means buying her black beans and soymilk from another brand to safeguard that right, I’m guessing she’s going to leave Eden… for good.
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