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Berkeley Protesters Call Out Whole Foods’ Policy Banning Black Lives Matter Face Masks

Also: Souvla sues SF over homeless encampments, and more news to start your day

Whole Foods Employees Stage Walkout After Being Dismissed Wearing BLM Masks
A related protest over Black Lives Matter masks at a Whole Foods in Cambridge, MA
Photo by Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Hundreds gathered outside the West Berkeley Whole Foods on Friday to protest the store’s policy on Black Lives Matter-branded apparel

In an Instagram post last week, a now-former employee at the West Berkeley Whole Foods says store management told her to remove the Black Lives Matter she was wearing because it was too “controversial” and the company wanted to stay “neutral.” According to Berkeleyside Nosh, the employee subsequently quit her job rather than abide by the policy, and on Friday, hundreds of protesters came out to support her — and to voice their disapproval of what they saw as Whole Foods’ “performative” support of social justice issues, as one protester said.

A Whole Foods spokesperson told Berkeleyside that the company has a longstanding policy against employees wearing apparel that has any “visible slogans, messages, logos or advertising that are not company-related” — but at least one employee at the Berkeley store said that this policy had never been enforced in the past.

The Berkeley protest comes on the footsteps of similar protests around the country, as major food corporations like Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, and Wawa — in addition to Whole Foods — have been challenged their policies around Black Lives Matter masks and apparel.

And in other news...

  • Greek fast-casual chain Souvla and Roman-style Italian restaurant Montesacro Pinseria joined a number of Mid-Market residents and businesses in filing a federal lawsuit against the city of San Francisco over the area’s homeless encampments, arguing that the city has treated the neighborhood as a “containment zone” for its homelessness issues — a situation that threatens to force restaurants like Montesacro to “close or relocate,” according to the lawsuit. [SFC]
  • It should come as no surprise, but BottleRock Napa Valley — Napa County’s largest music festival, known for its impressive food lineup — has pushed already-postponed 2020 event back to next year — rescheduling it for May 28–30, 2021. [Napa Valley Register]
  • In Berkeley, both locations of Berkeley Bowl faced COVID-19 outbreaks, in late June and July respectively. According to a Berkeleyside Nosh report, the grocery stores’ employees and management disagree on how well the company handled the outbreaks. Meanwhile, West Berkeley’s Community Foods Market will be closed for at least three days this week after an employee tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday. [Berkeleyside, East Bay Times]
  • A Bay Area teen has started an online petition — with more than 2,600 signatures at publication time — for Trader Joe’s to change what she argues is racist branding for many of its products, particularly its ethnically specific product lines: “Trader Ming’s” for Chinese food items, “Trader José” for Mexican foods, and so forth. According to the petition, “the Trader Joe’s branding is racist because it exoticizes other cultures — it presents ‘Joe’ as the default ‘normal.’ [San Jose Mercury News]
  • Good news for quesabirria obsessives: The cheesy, griddle-crisped beef birria tacos have officially made their way to Sonoma, courtesy of new food trucks like Jalapeno Mexican Grill and El Paisa. [Sonoma Magazine]


2505 3rd Street, , CA 94107 (415) 400-5458 Visit Website

Montesacro Pinseria - Enoteca

510 Stevenson Street, , CA 94103 (415) 795-3040 Visit Website