Progress is Never Fully Earned


There’s a point in big budget movies where the good guy and the bad guy shoot their equal and opposite powers towards each other, like fire and ice or two different colored laser beams. The grunt and strain trying to push their power towards the other and win the battle. The colors vacillate between the two like a graph showing who has the upper hand. 

I’m reminded this morning of why I work at a community owned grocery store that focuses on local, healthy and organic food. There are big powerful interests in this country that do harm through policies, practices and indifference. There are companies that sell people food that will make them sick over time. There is a health care industry that separates ailing people from their life’s earnings when they fall ill. There are companies that spray synthetic pesticides on our food and grow it in soil mixed with chemical fertilizer, staying in the land and water long after the food has been harvested. 

There are companies in this country that pay their workers the bare minimum. They put competition out of business to be able to charge even more for sub-quality products. There are companies that don’t pay taxes towards the common good. They don’t pay their fair share for the utilities, roads, education system, and waste management facilities that allow them to operate profitably. They dump and spew their manufacturing waste in Black and brown communities. There are powerful interests in this country that do harm through their policies, practices and indifference. 

There is no end point for these types of interests, no time where they will say they have enough. If left unchecked, they will continue to steamroll human and environmental health in favor of money and power. That’s why farmers in the 1970 began to eschew the chemicals that had become popular in farming after WWII in favor of growing crops organically. That’s why communities all over the country began to organize and open cooperatively-owned food markets that sell healthy food. 

We wake up every morning – 50 years later – and work in a store and an industry that has been designed intentionally to counteract these powerful interests. We support local makers and growers. We pay our workforce well and treat them with dignity. We support farmers who sustain our lands and our resources. We pay our fair share in taxes to support the common good. We sell food that focuses on people. We are deeply committed to being an active presence in our community.  

The companies and powerful interests, the “bad guys” in my clumsy movie battle analogy, will continue to use their powers for ill and they must be met with resistance. That’s the reason I’ve always worked in the natural foods industry; because it is a group collectively trying to do the right things. Every single person in this industry, from farmer to truck driver to cashier, is helping to repel those who do harm. 

Unlike the movies, I don’t believe that there is ever a day when we can fully win this fight, but being a force against the worst outcomes is more important than ever. Making progress by increasing the number of people buying natural, organic and local foods day by day is incredibly important work. Then you have to wake up the next morning and do it again. Because if we don’t, the bad guys win. In this country, progress is never fully earned.

Mike Houston
General Manager