business news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to our story about the Supervalu reorganization designed to make it easier to sell off its retail businesses, one MNB reader wrote:

I worked at Supervalu for 13 years (got laid off last November with a whole bunch of others due to a restructure).  Although I really enjoyed working at SV, the last few years were really tough. Every time you turned around, someone was getting laid off. Most people just wondered when it would be their turn!  However, I have since (March of this year), got one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, and even closer to home. See that – there is life after SUPERVALU.

On another subject, from another reader:

I read this Fast Company article yesterday about the Pinto App, and decided to take it for a test drive as I’m currently doing that Paleo thing. I found that the app is easy to use, and you can add not only your dietary preferences and allergies, but also create a profile including your height/weight, exercise habits, and your goals in conjunction with your eating habits. Pinto then creates a framework for reaching those goals, providing targets around calories, protein, carbs, fat, etc. based on the information you provided.

I think Pinto has a lot of potential for marketing to people with specialty diets. For instance, if it shows you’re hitting your target calories, but lacking on protein, personally I would like if it could recommend specific products or suggest different food items to help reach that protein goal without tipping over on the calories.
The database of products seems to be quite expansive, but already I found several holes trying to update my meal tracker. It will be interesting to see how Pinto grows and in which ways. Overall, I am enjoying using it and have already sent the article to a few friends with dietary restrictions.

From another reader:

I agree completely with you in thinking this Pinto App will be a great addition to the marketplace to help consumers know what they’re actually eating. However it also comes with a bit of concern that something like this is even required. I mean, shouldn’t the NFP be enough for a consumer to know what’s in the product?

I know its a loaded question but it seems to me that there are far too many companies that are looking to hide the ingredient contents OR a typical shopper wont be able to understand them anyway. Not to mention newly required FDA regulations that require honey, molasses or maple syrup to be characterized in the same way as refined white sugar.

Also, this probably wont be something that I’ll use while shopping; firstly when I need to consult the NFP, it’s usually a signal that Its probably not worth it (although I do when shopping for my kid), or second I don’t want to know anyway.

Finally, its a really interesting time in Natural Foods because for every Reeses Peanut Butter Cup, there’s a Justin’s or Unreal that are both realistically better. For every Dorito, there’s Late July and for every Craft Mac & Cheese, there’s Annies. All are made from better ingredients, and realistically just taste better.

Yesterday we took note of a lovely piece in The New Yorker by Michelle Zauner, who describes herself as the child of a Caucasian father and a Korean mother, and who finds that shopping at H Mart, a Korean supermarket, is simultaneously evocative of her youth and family while prompting in her a kind of sadness related to a past that never can be recaptured. It is, we said, a great example of how a store can be a cultural access point.

It prompted one MNB reader to write:

Beautiful story KC, I've been to the one in Burlington, MA. Super busy, unlike any other store in the area.

I sent the story to my wife, who is half Asian and it brought her to tears. We had taken her mom who was born in Japan, shopping there several times before she passed, and she loved that store.

And, more discussion about the fellow in Colorado who, having won a case in which he argued that he should not have to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding because of his religious beliefs, and now is arguing that those same religious beliefs mean that he should not have to bake a birthday cake for a transgender woman celebrating the “birth” of their new identity. (The requested cake would’ve had a blue exterior and a pink interior; I hope I’m getting the language right.)

I’ve been saying that I believe that religion should not be used as an excuse for intolerance and discrimination. Yesterday, I wrote, in part:

Someone once wrote that God judges people from the inside out; people judge other people from the outside in. That seems pretty accurate to me.

The transgender person just wants to be who he or she is. The person who marries someone of the same gender just wants to love and be loved, and make a commitment to that love …

My dad, who in many ways was as conservative about these things as they come, loved the Biblical verse that says, “God is love. And he who abides in love, abides in God, and God in him.” There were times in his life when, even though his instincts might’ve taken him in another direction, he found solace and guidance in those 16 words.

This discussion was started by something as small as a cake, but as big as personal intolerance cloaked in religious belief.

On this one, I’m going with my dad: God is love.

MNB reader Jeff Gartner wrote:

So let me get this right. Some people feel it's ok for that Colorado baker to refuse to bake a cake for a transgender person or for a gay couple, just because his religious beliefs lead him to find it morally objectionable. Don't they know that this same religious liberty argument was made not that many decades ago to refuse the same thing for interracial marriages or to serve any black person with food, lodging, water fountains, etc or to deny blacks and Jews housing, club memberships, etc.? There's no difference, discrimination is discrimination, and your religious beliefs do not give your business serving the public to discriminate. 

Thanks for taking this on.

MNB reader Ken Wagar wrote:

This …is one of the best things you have ever written in MNB. It takes a very difficult and divisive issue and answers it in a better way than I or many others could have done. I totally agree and appreciate your putting this out there.

And, from MNB reader Randy Evins:

I absolutely enjoy your perspective. I don’t always line up with it but you help me keep my bearings as your arguments are compelling and cause me to think twice….that, for me, is a good thing. This topic really has no conceivable end. On one side is religious opinion and the other is religious opinion. I know I know you can’t classify “transgender” or “gay marriage” as religious but really if you line up the belief systems next to each other…they are very similar. It’s opinion that causes the angst. Truth is there’s a ton of faith required no matter what side you’re on. Faith in the bible and it’s moral compass, or faith in an internal feeling that no matter what a person is scientifically (x v y genetics) they “feel” they are something else. I don’t dispute that in any way because I only have access to my own feelings.

However my issues in this particular case….why on earth would this transgender person, go to THIS bakery and ask for THIS cake? If I object to a particular opinion a person has, I have no desire to give them my money. If a baker is a Nazi, or a white supremacist, I am not interested in funding their life. Yep, this is sham case. It’s intentionally going after this individual because of the previous case. There are many more bakeries in Colorado, at least I presume there are, that this person can go to and get the cake they want……give this guy a break. If you know he’s not going to approve of your lifestyle, leave him alone, go find someone that will…

I think I would be remiss if I did not reiterate that members of the LGBTQ community are not part of that community because of faith or belief. They simply “are.” I understand what you are saying, but I think there is a difference.

As for just using another baker, I get your point. Except that, to follow Jeff Gartner’s point above, that’s the same argument that would’ve been used to black people in the South during much of this county’s history. Just use another hotel, another restaurant, another lunch counter. It’s not that we’re denying you services … it’s just that we’d rather not use the same services we do because of our beliefs. And let’s face it … there are people in this country who still feel that way.

Such beliefs are abhorrent. And when beliefs translate into intolerance, and religion is used as a justification … well, I have a problem with that.
KC's View: