The 13 weird things we learned about John Mackey, Whole Foods honcho

The 13 weird things we learned about John Mackey, Whole Foods honcho

John Mackey: fan of frolf, Friedman and food (Photo by Joe M500)

The New Yorker’s recent profile of John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, makes one thing pretty clear: American Apparel and Dunder Mifflin have a new rival for the title of World’s Kookiest Boss. The massive article shines some light on the enigmatic businessman, and we took particular interest, as rumours are still circulating about a third GTA location of Whole Foods.

Both a staunch conservative and a liberal hippie, Mackey might have more in common with Glenn Beck than the store’s granola leanings suggest. Self-proclaimed “daddy” to Whole Foods’ 54,000 employees, he wrote an op-ed piece last summer for the Wall Street Journal, saying that the government shouldn’t provide health care (corporations, he asserts, provide enough health care). He’s also skeptical of climate change, saying “no scientific consensus exists” regarding the causes of global warming, and is famously anti-union: “The union is like having herpes,” he said in the ’80s. “It doesn’t kill you, but it’s unpleasant and inconvenient, and it stops a lot of people from becoming your lover.” His list of people he respects reads like an aspiring investment banker’s: Ayn Rand, Ronald Regan and Milton Friedman.

But don’t bet on Mackey joining a 9/12 march any time soon. He has released an inspirational CD set and loves frolf. In the ’70s, he had a long beard, bushy hair and lived in a coed vegetarian collective, thinking he’d “meet a lot of interesting women.” Despite owning around $30 million in Whole Foods stock, Mackey pays himself a salary of $1 a year, flies commercial and drives a Honda hybrid. He has mandated that no one at the company can earn a salary more than 19 times what the average team member makes (the average S&P 500 CEO earns 319 times what a production worker can, according to the New Yorker piece). He loves to hike (his trail name is Strider) and practises breathing exercises. During one group session, he claims to have re-experienced his own birth (Caesarean, for the curious).

Food Fighter: Does Whole Foods’ C.E.O. know what’s best for you? [New Yorker]