Andrew Ferguson devotes his latest “Press Man” column in Commentary (not yet posted online) to Whole Foods founder John Mackey and his approach to free markets.

In the fantasy that Mackey offers his customers, there are no trade-offs. A customer can have it all, any time he wants: virtuous vegetables and ethical eggs conjured up from a gauzy cloud of selfless benevolence. That all this abundance is only made possible by the raw transactions of rapacious capitalism is an uncomfortable truth kept discreetly tucked away. The overflowing shelves at Whole Foods show no taint of the corrupting commercialism that sapped the spirits of earlier generations of consumers. Here is the wealth the free market creates, with none of the free market’s vulgarity: It is the progressive dream.

Mackey knows better. For all his New Age affectations — he calls his method of moneymaking “conscious capitalism” — he is a businessman of astounding skill, playing his customers and carefully cultivating their delicate self-image.