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Talk Back: Readers Show Their Opinionated Side

Talk Back: Readers Show Their Opinionated Side

How many organizations don't want to know more about what their audiences are thinking? You wouldn't find many retailers or suppliers in that group.

At last week's Grocery Manufacturer's Association Executive Conference in Colorado Springs, trading partners were debating what's on the minds of consumers as the recession shows signs of lifting. Some of these executives' companies have begun to foster communication with consumers through new tools, including social networking.

SN shares the desire to hear from its audience and is facilitating this communication with some relatively new, easy tools on our website, Readers can respond to our stories and editor Viewpoints, and also vote in our Quick Polls about key industry issues and see the latest vote tallies.

Readers send responses by using the feedback tool under any article. Comments are posted with articles, which often leads to additional comments, sometimes from our editors. We also just added a “Recent Comments” box on our home page so you can follow the latest feedback in a central location on the site.

It's increasingly apparent that our readers are highly opinionated and willing to share their views. Click here to read some excerpts from responses we've received on recent topics.

Which are the subjects that spark the most responses from readers? In the past couple of months, we've seen considerable reader feedback on topics ranging from food safety to Wal-Mart's activities.

However, the hands-down winning topic was that of John Mackey and Whole Foods. Readers widely supported the Whole Foods chairman and CEO, who has been the target of criticism for some controversial views.

This came to light in responses to a recent SN column and follow-up articles about a Mackey Wall Street Journal opinion piece criticizing government intervention in health care. Mackey's piece offered ideas for cost savings, citing the Whole Foods plan as an example, but included some controversial remarks that led a union to plan a protest and an investment group to call for his departure.

“I think John Mackey is right on target,” said one respondent to SN, who contended that Whole Foods' use of employee health accounts is a good way of supporting personal accountability.

Said another respondent, “Congratulations Mr. Mackey. You dared to speak your piece. And you are right. We don't need Obamacare…”

Still another person defended the larger CEO community in saying, “We need to listen to every CEO's ideas … and thoughts. They have the expertise and proven business sense to make big ideas actually work.”

Regardless of your stance on Mackey, we encourage you to share your views on this or any other topic. We place opinions into two categories — not right or wrong, but rather expressed and not expressed. We hope you'll choose to express yours, and use our website as the vehicle.

Respond to SN's Viewpoints online at