OpinionOpinion

Op-ed: An open letter to Safeway about carrying the National Enquirer

Dear Safeway,

I have been a longtime Elmwood resident who normally shopped at Whole Foods or Berkeley Bowl. I loved the quality of the food and the experience at both. I liked how I felt when I left the store: good, like I was nourishing my family and also my spirit. When the new Safeway opened up, at first I would only go there to shop dry-good items. But the obvious care in sourcing, the new organics line, the quality of the fruit and meats — well, slowly I found myself shopping at the new Elmwood Safeway for my entire grocery list. And I felt good after I left.

But recently something happened that almost made me begin a local boycott of the Elmwood Safeway, but it was rectified by the thoughtful and intelligent judgment of your store manager.

As I stood in line I saw a copy of the National Enquirer with a cover saying that Hillary Clinton and her assistant were going to jail. This is polarizing, partisan, political and false information about America that upset me deeply. Another customer had written “shame!” on a piece of paper and placed it in front of the Enquirer.

This is not celebrity gossip but fake news.

I do not think that Safeway should be the purveyor of untrue, partisan political information. It has no place in a grocery store. It made me feel terrible and anxious. The store manager was kind, calming, generous and professional, and she took all the National Enquirers that I had taken out of the racks from me and said that she would keep them out.

I expect pornography and partisan information in the magazine racks at 7-11, but not at Safeway. The National Enquirer has a political agenda and is not an innocent celebrity gossip magazine. It officially endorsed Donald Trump in March of this year, and has featured damaging and untrue information about the Clinton campaign. But, whether Republican or Democrat, the last thing I want to see when I am checking out of a grocery store is partisan press — especially when it is untruthful hate literature.

Free speech is very important, and there are other places like newsstands and bookstores where pornography and false, hate-inciting publications like the Enquirer can be sold. But in a place where we are buying food to nourish our bodies, we shouldn’t be confronted with poisonous words on our way home.

Please remove the National Enquirer from your magazine racks for good and keep partisan politics out of the Elmwood Safeway!

Also note that I am reaching out to my local community of mothers to both encourage them to thank and praise the Elmwood Safeway for your swift action, and to continue to monitor the news racks to ensure that polarizing, partisan, hate-filled propaganda is not placed in the racks in the future.

Thank you.

Kelly Cash

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Kelly Cash is a writer who divides her time between the East Bay and Austin, Texas.