Rainbow Grocery Cooperative and the San Francisco Bay Guardian help Google make money?

ARTICLE UPDATED: El 11 de agosto de 2014.

El 14 de febrero de 2014. WTF is going on? It’s sad and disgusting, but it’s true. Hola. Both Rainbow Grocery Cooperative (a worker-owned and operated vegetarian/vegan grocery store) in San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay Guardian are helping predatory Google (a corporation valued in the BILLIONS of US$$) make even more dinero/money. Rainbow and the Bay Guardian have been doing this for some time apparently. This despite all of the protests in San Francisco and Oakland against Google, the techies, the ubiquitous Gentrification and Eviction shuttles and The Tech Surveillance-State Industrial Complex. So what happened to principles and to standing for something other than dinero/$$, or is that “so last year?”

I received the following e-mail from a reader:

“I read one of your articles about Rainbow Grocery. Haven’t had time to read the other one. I shop at Rainbow. Have for years, but I don’t have the same respect for Rainbow I used to. I feel the store is losing itself. It could be how they hire new workers. Someone just needing a job instead of working there for a reason. The example of that I’m writing you about is this: Did you know that Rainbow is advertizing on the Bay Guardian’s website and on [Ed. site name removed] another local site using Google ads? I would expect a corporate store to do this, and one corporate chain store is doing this. But Rainbow? The tech industry or as you call it “the Tech Surveillance-State Industrial Complex” is ransacking The Mission [Ed. Rainbow is in The Mission District of San Francisco] and Google is part of the problem here. What’s going on at Rainbow? Why would they be advertizing through Google ads? My sister sent me a link to an article on the Bay Guardian’s site about tech. They’ve written a lot about tech, the tech shuttles, Ellis Act evictions and gentrification. Then look at the ads on the Bay Guardian’s website and they are all through Google. HYPOCRITES!!!!!!!!!! The same Google they complain about in their articles. They don’t see their hypocrisy at the Bay Guardian? I moved my cursor over the Rainbow ads on the Bay Guardian site expecting them to click through to Rainbow’s website. Nope, they are Google ads. All the ads on the Bay Guardian’s website are Google ads. You asked “does no one care about anything anymore?” My thoughts exactly; I don’t think they do. At Rainbow, they are pretty good on being green but there’s supposed to be more to it than that. With the Bay Guardian, I don’t know what to think about them…other than their hypocrisy.

My response: Hola y gracias for that. Yours is the second e-mail I’ve gotten about this in the last couple of weeks from readers having read my articles about Rainbow. A feeling of disgust came over me as I read your e-mail, although at this point with Rainbow I’m not surprised. No disrespect intended to you but you really shouldn’t be surprised by any of this at this point. The same goes for the Bay Guardian which wears the “progressive” identity. But in the end, they are partisan Democrats and their election endorsements are consistently for Establishment “Democratic” corporatist parasites. They often begin their endorsement of a D-candidate by saying, “We haven’t always agreed with this candidate and his/her record is not the best (and then they conclude with), but we’re endorsing…”. You get the idea. Mealy-mouthed stuff. They’re endorsing the candidate because of that D next to the politicians name. End of story. Fin.

I’m not surprised that Rainbow is using Google ads for advertising. The store has definitely changed. Many examples from my observations: When I hear workers in Rainbow talk among themselves these days, I mainly hear talk about corporate sports teams, “the game,” watching “the game” and one’s favourite team, partying, getting drunk (how healthy!… while working in a vegetarian/vegan store!), and over in the Produce Department you’ll hear the word “like” every-other-word. I used to never hear such corporatised sports team sheeple talk like that in Rainbow from the workers, or anyone else for that matter. Some of the workers wear major league corporate sports team clothing, and one cashier recently was wearing US flag clothing. When I saw that I immediately thought: In Rainbow? I never saw US flag clothing when George W Bush was illegitimately in office—US flags are fine now that there’s a so-called “D” in la casa blanca?—nor did I see that in the “Alternative, Proudly Radical San Francisco of the Past.” Rainbow used to have sort of a “family” feel to it. Not any more really. If anything, one can feel like one is being watched, or at least I do and mi amiga says the same.

One might think the workers who are working there for the “right reasons” might be talking about something important such as something political, for example, or about the gentrification in their barrio or the tech shuttles or the evictions of some of their workers or protests of tech. In other words, something that matters in many people’s lives. The big bulletin board as one comes in the store from the garage used to be full of political content. Not any more. I looked at it recently and there was mostly non-political stuff there. That’s also representative of how the city has changed/gentrified, unfortunately. I only know of two workers (dos mujeres/two women) out of the entire membership (the workers) who go to protests these days.

Just like with the “alternative” San Francisco of the past which has been evicted and forced out of the city, I think one needs to remember that the Rainbow of the past—which includes Rainbow’s “alternative” customer base—is quickly fading and I’m specifically talking about the quality of the workers. Since Rainbow Grocery Cooperative is a vegetarian/vegan store, are most of the workers vegetarian or vegan? I don’t think they are. One would think the workers would be vegetarian/vegan to be representative of what they sell. You touched on this too. I sense that many if not most of the workers are there today just because it’s a job and nothing more. I also suspect some or many workers are hired through other workers, as opposed to being there for a reason (credible reasons, aside from the store being a worker-owned and operated cooperative). I sense that many, if not most, of the workers today could really work in any corporate grocery store. Since Rainbow has always focused on local products, I found it questionable when I saw several products from China in the store in the last year (two that come to mind: packaged organic mushrooms over by the refrigerated cases, and in a bulk gravity bin: organic black rice). They couldn’t get those products locally or more locally than China? (I don’t buy any food from China with their food “standards” even if it’s supposedly “organic.”) Rainbow carries Lundberg products and Lundberg has a type of non-organic but non-GMO black rice available in bulk. Recently, Rainbow was carrying pecans from the Hate State of Arizona. I thought there was a boycott of products from Arizona because of their hate laws towards undocumented/unregistered immigrants and migrant workers and considering Rainbow has a lot of Latino, Hispano, Mexicano, Chicano (et al) workers, one would have thought the boycott would still be in effect, no? Or have Rainbow workers become so apolitical that they can no longer be bothered with such things?

While writing this, I went to Rainbow’s website. Their website is rather corporate-looking. They use Flash, which is rather corporate. I can’t stand Flash as it takes forever to load and jumps around and is a pain in the ass. But many corporate websites are using Flash these days. So I see Rainbow has joined the “Flash Herd.” They’ve also installed some of the Tech Surveillance-State Industrial Complex corporations to their site such as Facebook, Twitter and Paypal. In a sense, their website doesn’t “match” the store because the store itself does not look corporate, fortunately. On their website, they have the corporate Facebook plug-in, the corporate Twitter thing, the buy a Giftcard through corporate Paypal feature. The Facebook plugin scroll thing turned me off with it’s—what I call—retail hype a worker had written. For example, Rainbow is now carrying a local quinoa (that’s good) and they’re the only store carrying it which they say they are “thrilled” about. Thrilled about? I can think of a lot of reasons to be thrilled about something but carrying quinoa is not one of them. Reminds me of one of the soy milk companies a few years ago saying they were “absolutely thrilled” about their new pour spout. Well whatever turns you on, I guess. How can anyone get “absolutely thrilled” over a fucking pour spout? Not much going on in that person’s life I guess. “Thrilled” must be one of the top keywords that retail is supposed to use these days. But it’s that type of retail hype (that’s what I call it) and bull shit that turns me off.

I think Rainbow has a corporate faction—a pro-corporate group of workers—within the store now which seems to be having quite a bit of influence, and I’ve thought this for some time. From shopping there, I have an idea as to who some of the more corporatist workers are, but overall I think they keep a low profile. But their website’s design and what’s on the website tells me that there are definitely some corporate-minded workers there.

Also, on Rainbow’s website one can order a plastic GiftCard through corporate PayPal. There are many problems with using PayPal. As I mentioned earlier, Rainbow’s website is also fully connected with corporate Twitter (which is part of the Tech Surveillance-State Industrial Complex, and Twitter is receiving corporate welfare from San Francisco. Tech is a major part of the problem in the city causing gentrification and evictions in San Francisco, and especially en el Distrito de la Misión where Rainbow is located.

Then there’s the many problems with using corporate Facebook and their data-mining. So one wonders: Did the full membership at Rainbow Grocery Cooperative vote in favour of these Google ads on the Bay Guardian’s website, or was this scheme approved by a small committee of some sort or the Board of Directors?

And one shouldn’t be surprised that the Bay Guardian is using Google ads either. As for the Bay Guardian’s website, if one wants to remain sane, it’s best to only read the articles. DON’T GO PAST THE ARTICLE TEXT. Their comments are a very unhealthy place to be. Full of trolls and dysfunctional people. The writers at the Bay Guardian do some good work in most of their articles. But as the other person who sent me an e-mail said: it’s as if they publish “bait articles” on Viernes/Friday that they know from past experience will generate a lot of activity, comments and hits, or to give the trolls a “playground” for the weekend. They don’t have any advertisers online other than the Google ads so they don’t need the traffic/hits for telling advertisers how many hits the site gets per month since all the online advertising is through Google. Perhaps they’re trying to get a lot of hits so people will click on the Google ads. I’ve never clicked on any ads. Their forum is the worst forum I think I’ve ever seen. One local former politician referred to another website’s forum as “a backwater cesspool.” The same can easily be said about the Bay Guardian’s comment forum and the Bay Guardian refuse to do anything about it in a positive way. They seem to like it the way it is, or they would closely moderate it. Right-wing/libertarian/neoliberal/neocon trolls live on the forum and they are currently enjoying a “Wet Dream Come True” over what is now happening to San Francisco (becoming a city for the wealthy). The conservative/right-wing trolls on that site could not be more delighted. Chau.—rosa barrio

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