Following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that craft retailer Hobby Lobby can deny birth control coverage to its employees through its company health plan, Erin Steuer and Rachel Pauli turned their outrage toward a lawsuit brought against the Obama administration by Eden Foods founder and CEO Michael Potter.
Steuer, director of programs and communications for NARAL Pro-Choice Montana, and Pauli, a grassroots organizer for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana, are organizing a letter-writing campaign directed at Missoula grocers encouraging them to sever ties with the organic food producer.
"Eden Foods is also trying to jump on this bandwagon, similar to Hobby Lobby, and trying to deny contraception coverage to its employees," Steuer says. "So as consumers, one way that we can show that we're outraged by corporations making that stance is to simply ask to sever their ties with them and, you know, put our money where our mouth is."
Just after the Hobby Lobby decision came down, Potter filed his own lawsuit objecting to the Affordable Care Act's requirement that his business provide access to contraceptives as part of Eden Foods' employee health plan. Potter has said in court filings that, as a Catholic, he objects to providing for birth control services because he believes the procedures "almost always involve immoral and unnatural practices."
According to Pauli, Eden Foods currently sells products to Pattee Creek Market, Natural Grocers, the Good Food Store, Missoula Community Food Co-Op and Orange Street Food Farm. As of Monday, the campaign has gathered nearly 200 letters from shoppers encouraging those stores to stop carrying Eden Foods products. Steuer says the collected letters will be delivered to Missoula grocers at the end of the month.
"I do want to make clear that we are not boycotting these businesses at all," Pauli says. "I love my local businesses. We just are asking them politely to sever their ties with Eden Foods."
Layne Rolston, communications director for the Good Food Store, says he's received several comments from shoppers regarding Eden Foods. While Rolston says the company's products will not be removed at this point, citing their track record for delivering quality items, the Good Food Store cannot defend the actions of Eden Foods' ownership.
"It's something that's troubling us also, and we are continuing to discuss what our best response should be," Rolston says.