Whole Foods

Books make me laugh. And think. And eat.  Lately I’ve been reading a book about food we eat and food we should eat, which does all three, which is pretty fantastic for a book.  As good books probably should, it has at least momentarily altered the way I think about food, and reminded me of the common sense mantra of what healthy, organic, food/plant based diets we should have. Blah blah blah.

Flash forward to today when I needed to pick up some apples and figured that a) Whole Foods is closer than Jewel  and b) if I was going for fresh produce, that was probably the better store to choose, due to my brain being warped by said above literary installment’s arguments.

Whole Foods cracks me up.  Because, yes, the food is mostly organic/ natural/ made of hemp by cloistered Swiss nuns, but the products also are naturally more expensive  (Yes, I am aware of the social and political justice reasons for this THANK YOU JESUIT BRAINWASHING GEESH).  Therefore, I find walking into the Whole Foods in Lakeview an activity in an ironic hilarity. Case in point – behind me in the check-out line were (I kid you not): a bike messenger bag-wearing/bandanna-clad woman with braided red pigtails down to her bum, a stereotypically exhausted-looking Lincoln Park soccer mom with a his-and-hers children set, and a talldarkandhandsome man in a coal grey suit (Dude? It’s SATURDAY).  And everyone is naturally carrying their own reusable grocery bags.

I mean, really, how can you criticize Whole Foods?  It’s brought the Organic movement into the mainstream, popularized sustainability, banned plastic bags, pays its workers well, and now even runs on all renewable energy.

But it doesn’t require much from its consumers other than to continue to buy its products.  We have industrialized organic foods… and not in a good way.  We still don’t have a mass movement to create understanding that the availability of year-round produce probably isn’t necessarily ‘natural.’  We still don’t really understand or care why we buy food from countries suffering widespread famine.  We still don’t care that it drives local, independent grocery stores out (yes they still exist).  We just assuage our guilt.  But is it better than nothing?

As Stuff White People Like sardonically says:

Many white people consider shopping at Whole Foods to be a religious experience, allowing them feel good about their consumption. The use of paper bags, biodegradable packaging, and the numerous pamphlets outlining the company’s police on hormones, genetically modified food and energy savings. This is in spite of the fact that Whole Foods is a profit driven-publicly traded corporation that has wisely discovered that making white people feel good about buying stuff is outrageously profitable.

The natural hypocrisy of Whole Foods and its consumers (YES MYSELF INCLUDED) just makes me laugh.  We live in a world where we have to think about our choices and options a tad too little.  Things are available (although not necessarily affordable) just a little too conveniently.  Mass marketing and consumerism have stolen our brains and souls just a little too much.  Blah blah social conspiracy ranting blah blah.

ETA: I obviously have not read M. Pollan’s previous book, which further research informs me rants about the irony/hypocrisy of Whole Foods.  Indeed.


4 Responses so far »

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