Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Falling Out of Love with Whole Foods

Whole Foods is coming to my neighborhood. More than likely this makes mine one of the last neighborhoods to suffer its influence.

Once or twice I have ventured forth into a Whole Foods store. I wanted to find out what the fuss was all about.

I did not, however, cross the threshold and become a Whole Foods shopper. Apparently, the company has done just fine without my business.

Now, when the brand spanking new Whole Foods opens up the block I will be tempted to join the trendy masses who shop there.

If ever I find myself being lured toward Whole Foods I might do as Odysseus did when he wanted to save himself from the lure of the Sirens—that is, telling my men to tie me to the mast.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a boat. So I needed to find a backup plan. Now I have found it: I will reread a brilliant post by Gerard Van der Leun about falling out of love with Whole Foods. Van der Leun wrote it a while ago. He just reposted it because he must have known how useful it would be for those of us who are Whole Foods novices.

It is a poignant tale. For me it is cautionary. It shows what happens if you get sucked into the vortex that is Whole Foods, and how difficult it is to extricate yourself once that happens. 

Naturally, I recommend that you read the Whole thing. Still, here are a few appetizers:

I ignored a lot of your irritating habits, Whole -- like keeping that entire wing of the dairy case jammed with your revoltingly raw vegan pastes and six flavors of tofu, those sloppy seconds of soy. I rationalized you were just trying to keep your green ass from getting so fat you couldn't get into that tacky green apron you insist on wearing all the time, because "they go with my Earth shoes".

Or else, how about this soul-wrenching passage:

Was it because you always reminded me, in your organic, vegan, tofu sodden shelves, of those unshaven but passionate hippie girls of my youth? The one's with the faint Frida Kahlo mustaches like the fuzz I once licked from your peaches.

Was it because I thought I was demonstrating my successful status by shopping at a grocery store whose motto might as well have been, "Whole Foods: Why Pay Less?"

Was it the frisson that compulsive gamblers feel as I watched a single paper bag of your goodies climb relentlessly over the last few years from $50 to $75 to over $100 with no sign that I was at least going to get a French kiss as a reward?

I even put up with your ceaseless whining about the friggin' environment, being green and all, and your constant nudging about bringing my own bag to carry away your noodle soup, and your waxed cardboard containers for the salad bar that would always leak dressing onto my leather seats.


Anonymous said...

The criticisms about high prices and the holier-than-thou greenness are valid but I thought that Gerard was being gratuitously nasty just for the fun of it. I shop there regularly and I'm willing to pay the higher prices just to be in a store that is so much more pleasant and less stressful than Safeway. Plus there are food items that cannot be obtained elsewhere without difficulty.

Dennis said...

A very good book written by a woman who spent years as a vegetarian is Lierre Keith's "The Vegetarian Myth." She goes through validating much of what you are talking about. The medical problems she had, the lack of ability to cope mental and physically to just living life, et al cleared after she moved away fro being a Vegan and horrors eating meat.
It is smart to watch what you eat, but just following some food regime without understanding the science behind it is asking for problems. Also understand your own body and what it can eat and not eat.
We are, in many ways, very different individuals who process much of what is available in a manner that is unique to the individual. It is much like the pharmaceuticals we are prescribed. They affect each person differently. That is why there is a fact sheet that lists the possible side effects. Foods are no different.
Please do not subject your children or animals to these diets because they don't get the very things they need in order for them to group healthy.