Organic doesn’t mean progressive: Eden Foods sues to halt coverage of its workers’ contraception

Thursday, Apr 11, 2013 07:45 AM EDT
Organic Eden Foods’ quiet right-wing agenda
A crunchy, natural food company marketed to liberals discreetly sues to stop covering employees’ contraception
By Irin Carmon

The slogan for Eden Foods, which describes itself as the “oldest natural and organic food company in North America,” is “creation and maintenance of purity in food.” Its CEO and founder, Michael Potter, has been prominent in debates over labeling of organic food and GMOs. But the company has been quietly seeking in court another form of purity — to Catholic doctrine about sex being solely for procreation. That goes not just for Potter, but for all 128 of his employees.

That is, Eden Foods — an organic food company with no shortage of liberal customers — has quietly pursued a decidedly right-wing agenda, suing the Obama administration for exemption from the mandate to cover contraception for its employees under the Affordable Care Act. In court filings, Eden Foods, represented by the conservative Thomas More Law Center, alleges that its rights have been violated under the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

Eden Foods, which did not respond to a request for comment, says in its filing that the company believes of birth control that “these procedures almost always involve immoral and unnatural practices.” The complaint also says that “Plaintiffs believe that Plan B and ‘ella’ can cause the death of the embryo, which is a person.” (Studies show that neither Plan B nor Ella interfere with fertilization, which is the Catholic definition of the beginning of life, if not the medical one. In other words, not the death of an embryo. Also, at that stage, it’s a zygote, not an embryo — let alone a “person.”) The filing also said that “Plaintiff Eden Foods’ products, methods, and accomplishments are described by critics as: tasteful, nutritious, wholesome, principled, unrivaled, nurturing, pure.”

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