Produce Depot removes anti-gay link from website

Part-owner says the store is only interested in healthy eating and good food

Produce Depot has responded to a grassroots boycott by removing a link to a homophobic American organization from its website.

Capital Xtra reported in the Nov 6 edition that customers were boycotting the fruit and produce store over a link to the American group Focus on the Family, which encourages discrimination against gays and lesbians.

At the time, David Barstead, one of three Produce Depot owners, had said he didn’t have time to comment on the link.

Later that month, Produce Depot quietly removed the link from their website.

In a phone interview, Barstead explains that his partner was away at the time Capital Xtra first tried to reach Produce Depot for comment and he was absolutely swamped.

“What we endorse is healthy eating and good food and that’s it,” Barstead explains, commenting upon the appearance that the store might endorse the views of Focus on the Family. “We certainly don’t have an official stance on any other issues.

“We didn’t know that there were any problems or issues,” says Barstead. “We didn’t select any of the websites that were on there. If there is something that is not pleasing to people, that’s fine. They told us what it was and we removed it.”

Barstead says the selection of links on the website was made by the graphic designer hired to construct the site.

Alain Lanoix, who first pointed out the link in an October letter to Capital Xtra, has received no response to his original complaint from Produce Depot, though he’s pleased the link has been removed. Michael McKeown, who had also criticized the link, has also received no response to his own complaint.

“Removal of the link by itself means almost nothing,” says McKeown. He would like to see Produce Depot condemn the views expressed by Focus on the Family.

“Removing the link strikes me as an attempt to silence the complainers,” he adds. “It is not an indication that they understand and sympathize with my (and others) concerns.”

Barstead defends the store’s position of not responding to e-mails because the website is separate from the store.

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