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Why I Just Bought Shares of Whole Foods

John Grgurich
November 28, 2012

I haven't the foggiest what took me so long, but I finally just bought my first shares in Whole Foods Market(NASDAQ: WFM), one of my favorite companies when it comes to two critical investing filters: long-term performance and corporate social responsibility.

Responsible to the core
Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, comes in two basic varieties. Some companies go the CSR route by grafting a skin of social responsibility onto their existing corporate bodies. This can be purely for PR purposes or for more genuine purposes. Either way, for me it doesn't matter: As long as CSR is on a company's radar and the company is taking real action as a result, count me in.

But for some companies CSR goes much deeper, to the very core of the enterprise. Whole Foods is just such an enterprise. Since the first Whole Foods opened in Austin, Texas, in 1978, the company has sought a genuine balance between profit and social responsibility.

One of the first things you see when you visit the Company Info page of Whole Foods' website is the description of the company as "mission-driven." That mission is to "seek out the finest natural and organic foods available, maintain the strictest quality standards in the industry, and have an unshakeable commitment to sustainable agriculture."  Above and beyond that, you'll also find some very specific socially responsible missions Whole Foods has chosen to undertake:

  • Through the Whole Planet Foundation, the company tries to alleviate poverty in the developing-world economies from which Whole Foods sources so many of its products. It does this primarily through the facilitation and extension of microcredit. As of August 2012, the foundation has more than 225,000 clients with more than $432 million in funds committed.
  • The Whole Kids Foundation "support[s] schools and inspire[s] families to improve children's nutrition a