SALT LAKE CITY — When the small California company Hampton Creek was founded in 2011 by entrepreneur Joshua Tetrick it introduced a plant-based mayonnaise and named it Just Mayo.
It was a product in line with the company's plans to produce healthy and affordable alternatives to the sometimes questionable food everyone is accustomed to. Healthy in this case meant it would be a plant-based product.
What? Mayonnaise made without eggs? That caught the attention of those in the mayonnaise business and the American Egg Board, a U.S. Department of Agriculture "check off" program that gets its funding from commodities produced in hopes of providing a singular national voice in the marketing and promotion of (in this case) eggs. But the egg board went beyond its stated mission and was actually advocating and fighting against Just Mayo. It was the old guard trying to stop something new.
As Tetrick said last year about his company — now renamed Just, Inc. — “I did not know many of the things that I know now when I started this. What I did know for sure is that eating well is a basic right,” as quoted in Food Business News.
There's something in that statement: a basic right.
Inside the newsroom this week, the conversation turned to mayonnaise and Just Mayo when New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker ended a busy week for presidential candidates by announcing that he, too, is now running for president. He chose the first day of Black History Month to make his announcement with the statement, "Together, America, we will rise.”
Booker knows a little something about the mayonnaise business. It was he and Utah Sen. Mike Lee who saw the problem with a federal agency trying to quash an upstart food business in a decidedly un-American way. So the Republican Lee and the Democrat Booker worked together to push forward the “Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act of 2017,” clarifying the proper role of a "check off" program.
Basic rights of having healthy food, and fairness to allow consumers to make a choice. Those are important principles and we applied them this week in our conversation about coverage of the presidential race.
If the candidacy of Donald Trump taught us anything it was that unpredictable outcomes are possible. That can scare each establishment party (Donald Trump bested 16 other GOP candidates and roiled the party) into trying to do what it can to control the election process.
But using bullying tactics or by threatening potentially "horrible outcomes" to take the decision away from the electorate is decidedly un-American — or ought to be.
Which brings us to the very public debate surrounding the possible candidacy of Howard Schultz, the billionaire former CEO of Starbucks who told "60 Minutes" in last Sunday's broadcast that he was considering a run as a "centrist independent."
That promptly brought outrage from corners of the Democratic Party who said his run will simply siphon off votes from whomever emerges as the Democrat in the race and hand the election to Trump.
Noted economist and columnist Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times this week, did a strong takedown of Schultz, using the label "fanatical centrists." to describe "the powerful factions that are committed to the false views of the world, regardless of the evidence."
It is a reasoned piece and worth reading. But I take issue when labels are used to cast aside candidates that voters just might want to hear from, as was reflected in this statement from the same piece:
"Over the past few days we’ve been treated to the ludicrous yet potentially destructive spectacle of Howard Schultz, the Starbucks billionaire, insisting that he’s the president we need despite his demonstrable policy ignorance."
The "ignorance" may rightfully be explored. But was it really a "destructive spectacle" for him to consider running for office as an independent?
The documentarian and political activist Michael Moore took it quite a few steps further. Appearing on "Late Night with Seth Meyers," he urged everyone to boycott Starbucks "until he announces he’s not running.” He then attacked would-be candidate Schultz's claim that he was self-made and started in on the latest trend beginning to emerge — calling billionaires immoral, apparently discounting all the good billionaires do. Tens of billions of dollars are given to charities providing for the health and education of millions throughout the world. (The Giving Pledge notes 188 of the world's wealthiest people who have pledged to give away most of their wealth to good causes.)
The morality of an economic system that produces billionaires is a topic for another day. The point is that Cory Booker and Howard Schultz, as well as previously announced candidates Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and the many others who will join them, will bring ideas and policy proposals to the public, and the public will choose a president.
According to the Library of Congress, "Legal requirements for presidential candidates have remained the same since the year Washington accepted the presidency. As directed by the Constitution, a presidential candidate must be a natural born citizen of the United States, a resident for 14 years, and 35 years of age or older. These requirements do not prohibit women or minority candidates from running."
Nothing on income or wealth. Nothing on education or work experience. Nothing on military service or volunteerism. The founders left it to voters and the Electoral College to sort out who they want to place in that high office.
That means 37-year-old Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a Navy veteran, is qualified by two years to enter the presidential race, which he announced last month he just may do as he's now established an exploratory committee.19 comments on this story
Who knows if such a young man is qualified to be president. We have time to learn that. And to dive deeper into the views of all the candidates, and President Donald Trump for that matter, who will have his presidential record and promises for the future to run on.
The media will be there to ask plenty of questions and the public will be there at town hall meetings, picnics and barbecues interacting with the candidates. Who knows, we just might find out which candidates prefer catsup and which lean the other way — toward mayo.