Chef Alice Waters chimes in on Amazon’s Whole Foods buyout

Celebrity chef Alice Waters, owner of the legendary Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse and a pioneer of the locally grown food movement, said the acquisition could allow Amazon to revolutionize the entire food industry.

Amazon’s $13.7 billion deal to buy Whole Foods has generated plenty of chatter in the past week, from retail analysts warning about the impending doom of the grocery store as we know it to antitrust activists complaining that Amazon is becoming way too big.

Celebrity chef Alice Waters, owner of the legendary Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse and a pioneer of the locally grown food movement, also added her two cents to the discussion, saying that the acquisition could allow Amazon to revolutionize the entire food industry.

“With the acquisition of Whole Foods and the ubiquitous network of Amazon — you have an unprecedented opportunity to change our food system overnight,” she posted on a Twitter note directed to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “It is time to demand that produce comes from farmers who are taking care of the land, to require meat and seafood to come from operations that are not depleting natural resources, and to support the entrepreneurial endeavors of those American farmers and food makers who do not enjoy federal subsidies.”

It remains to be seen whether such a transformation is feasible, even with Amazon’s deep pockets, appetite for risk, and technological powers.

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Although the success of Whole Foods catapulted the nationwide availability of organic foods to a new level, the company remains a relatively small chain with low-single-digit market share in the grocery business, and has been struggling for years. Amazon would have to turn that ship around.

On the other hand, the organic food sector as a whole is growing briskly, at a rate of 8.3 percent in 2016,…

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