Co.Design

How Republican Is Whole Foods? I Used An App To Find Out

Spoiler: that hemp flax granola you're buying is probably made by Haliburton.

How Republican are your cornflakes? How Democratic your Spaghetti-Os? If these are the sorts of questions that keep you up at night, BuyPartisan is a new app that advertises itself as "like a nutritional label for your political values." Just scan the barcode of a food you like, wait for the melodious beep (*Bleep-bleep!*), and the app will spit out a pie-chart breakdown of how much money the company has donated to political causes over the past 10 years.

Curious about how BuyPartisan works, I decided to install the app and use it grocery shopping. As a Democrat, I was pretty sure that Dick Cheney and Jeb Bush probably sat on the board of Stop 'N' Shop. But surely Whole Foods, that gleaming pleasure dome of hyper-organic, eco-conscious foodstuffs that bleeding-heart bark chewers like myself love to visit when we're not congratulating ourselves for agreeing with John Oliver, would be different. Wouldn't it?

Spoiler: it's almost impossible to buy anything in Whole Foods without, in a roundabout way, supporting the Republican Party.

BuyPartisan sources its data from a trio of non-partisan, nonprofits dedicated to tracking money and lobbying in U.S. politics, and in particular, that money's effects on elections: the Center for Responsive Politics, the Sunlight Foundation, and the Institute for State Money in Politics. It shows you not necessarily how the company itself donates, but how the people behind the company donate. The app's not much to look at--the UI looks like it was put together with some cookiecutter, off-the-shelf "Build Your Own App" toolkit--but it doesn't need to be pretty: the data this app gives easy access to is the real star here.

I started in the juice section, picking up a large bottle of Naked Juice. *Budddle-leep.* 94.5% Republican. Huh. Who knew? What about this bottle of Odwalla? *Boop-de-beedleee.* Okay, much better, although still, 37.5% of this bottle is Republican, making more than a third of this bottle of juice squeezed, not from mangos as it says on the label, but from the hearts of dead Iraqi orphans.

Checking my list, I noted the missus also wanted me to pick up some cereal. I grabbed a bag of Bob's Red Mill. *Gleeeble-fleep!* 49% Republican, 31% Democrat, 20% Other. Okay, how about Kashi? *Hooble-dee-zlorp!* That's better, I guess: 37.25% Republican to 33.5% Democrat, which means that the Kellogg's-owned Kashi brand bleeds bluer blood than that malevolently cackling, oatmeal-loving oligarch, Bob Moore.

And everything was like this. A box of Nature's Path Organix Flax with Red Berries? 44.75% Republican. A bottle of Meyer's 2x Lemon Verbena Laundry Detergent? 50.5% Republican! A bottle of Newman's Own Olive Oil, straight from the vineyards of lifelong Democrat Paul Newman himself? 94.5% Republican!

"Uh, sir, can I help you finding anything?" a puzzled Whole Foods employee asked me as I sat cross-legged in the middle of an aisle, muttering to myself while scanning products with my iPhone and then hurling them in a dramatic arc behind me. But he couldn't, no matter how many times I shook him by the lapels, thrusting my iPhone in his face and screaming, "WHERE'S THE DEMOCRAT AISLE?" over and over again. I am pleased to report, however, that Whole Foods' crackerjack security team was very helpful in making sure that my front teeth met the curb outside. Nice chaps.

I kid, of course. The truth is, you probably shouldn't use BuyPartisan to find out how Republican or Democrat your food is, because BuyPartisan doesn't actually give you an easy way to find alternatives to that carton of blood oil orange juice or bag of Monsanto tortilla chips. There are no suggestions made on a similar product you could buy to keep your conscience clean. You simply scan some food you love in and find out, oh, hey, did you know your own personal Satan is behind this? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.

Down this path lies madness. Everything has blood on it in some way or another, and this app will only drive purists crazy. Even if a company is donating money to one cause, the people who run that company are donating to another. But hey, if you want to, you can download BuyPartisan here and see for yourself. Knock yourself out.

[Photos: Flickr user Richard O. Barry]

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37 Comments

  • David L Allison

    A better comparison with Walmart would be Costco.
    Local farmer's markets, local fish, farms and ranches offer positive alternatives to Whole Foods or Walmart. and you don't have to know if the seller is Democratic or Republican in her politics. However, I do want to know if my food is from genetically modified organisms, filled with "Roundup", DDT or Agent Orange. and I want it on the damned label.

  • Mark Miclette

    Classic.

    Another glaring example that the free enterprise system, capitalism and competition combine to produce great products and a wonderful shopping experience for all. Let's just hope the left doesn't get their paws on the grocery industry like they are destroying the health care system.

  • alyx0.5life

    A recipe for 100% progressive salad:

    Ingredients:

    1 copy of "The Communist Manifesto" by K. Marx & F. Engels

    1 copy of "Rules for Radicals" by S.D. Alinsky

    1 copy of "Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung" (Mao's little red book)

    1 copy of "Dreams from my Father" by B.H. Obama

    1 copy of "The Audacity of Hope" by B.H. Obama

    1 issue of NYT

    2 cups of venezuelan heavy sour crude oil

    1 cup of Washington red ink

    Directions:

    Finely dice the books, add minced NYT, dress with red ink and oil, stir and send the salad to the government for redistribution.

  • alyx0.5life

    A recipe for 100% progressive salad:

    Ingredients:

    1 copy of "The Communist Manifesto" by K. Marx & F. Engels

    1 copy of "Rules for Radicals" by S.D. Alinsky

    1 copy of "Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung" (Mao's little red book)

    1 copy of "Dreams from my Father" by B.H. Obama

    1 copy of "The Audacity of Hope" by B.H. Obama

    1 issue of NYT

    2 cups of venezuelan heavy sour crude oil

    1 cup of Washington red ink

    Directions:

    Finely dice the books, add minced NYT, dress with red ink and oil, stir and send the salad to the government for redistribution.

  • Laura Parrish

    Wow, so you thing the Republican party is your own personal satan? Good Lord, get a life. You do know that this article is a joke and shows what shallowness you republican hating liberals have on display? Ugh. So predictable. As Dave Newman stated, Republican ownership builds things. That would mean jobs to you libs.

  • davenewman

    Of course most products have a high level of Republican ownership. Republicans build things and Democrats tax them out of existence.

  • dbjarrell

    Yes the glib barbs can fly over the "sides" and causes depicted here but I'm disappointed that Mr. Brownlee and most posters completely missed a rather large problem with this. We all suffer from runaway tribalism in this country where activists, pundits and operatives try to say everything about "them" is bad and everything about "us" is good. So we must always know first whether a person is one of us or one of them BECAUSE that will color if not dictate how we interact. Trying to fit all parts of a human's (or organization's) phenomena and experience into an "us box or a "them" box can only lead to absurdity and hypocrisy.

    People please wake up. Just exactly like "global thermonuclear war" there is no way to win the game of acute tribalism - unless of course you really get to the point of pursuing annihilation of the other tribe, which, I fear, many are pretty close to.

  • Go to the Farmers Market and meet the farmer who grew your grain, meat, vegetable or fruit. Can do that? Join a CSA. Can't do that? Then this app's for you.

  • Sounds like that's the one piece this app is missing...the get out of Whole Foods recommendation, and plug for local farmers markets.

  • Ron Smorynski

    Democrats believe in abortions, gay marriage, any god but God, no heaven or sin comments, these are all providence of Satan, so why are you saying Republicans are of Satan?

    Oh oh, the whole deception thing... ah yah, sorry I forgot about that.

  • Grow up. Not all Democrats are atheists and those who are don't believe in your magic skydaddy's enemy any more than they believe in your magic skydaddy. If your entire political philosophy is based on what you think an invisible, magical being wants you to do, then I truly pity you and this nation.

  • quikboy

    I would toss out the writer too if I worked there. There's no need to fling products out of disgust, especially as it may end up in the waste bin if it's damaged and 'unsellable'. Not to mention being physically tugged on repeatedly and having a grown man yell and shove a stupid iPhone screen in my face.

    It's just food. Getting all bent out over what companies contribute to what PAC's is such a majorly first-world issue. Pedantic partisan politics with food. sigh.

  • Jim Foster

    Gee, imagine that, a company that supports the party that doesn't want to put them out of business with taxes and moronic union-driven labor laws. How awful. Wake up you Democrat idiots, it's called capitalism.

  • quikboy

    I would toss out the writer too if I worked there. There's no need to fling products out of disgust, especially as it may end up in the waste bin if it's damaged and 'unsellable'. Not to mention being physically tugged on repeatedly and having a grown man yell and shove a stupid iPhone screen in my face.

    It's just food. Getting all bent out over what companies contribute to what PAC's is such a majorly first-world issue.

  • Opie Juan Cannoli

    Another way to pretend that there is actually any difference between Republicans and Democrats. Yippee.