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My tormented relationship with Whole Foods.

January 22, 2009

Whole Foods, which I still refer to as Fresh Fields on a regular basis, continues to be a place that gives me too many emotions at once. First, the idea of a place where organic foods are heralded, environmentally sound practices are exercised, and animal testing free/vegan products are sold, give me great comfort. There is something about entering with your cute mini-cart and grabbing intriguingly labeled goods, which I am always sucked into (see my collection of wine), that gives me a calming feeling. There is no other place in Arlington that provides such a beautiful display of poisson: exotic types of fish or pre-made crabcakes, oh glorious crabcakes! Or go to the cheese section, where the cheese incident of 2005 occurred. In her sweet intentions, my sister, C, took a trip to Whole Foods to buy dinner for the rest of us, a welcomed gesture while we frantically packed to help her move out. Entranced by the varieties of gouda, cheddar, and brie, C found a wonderfully tasteful camembert cheese. One she could not resist. When she returned to the apartment, and unpacked her cloth shopping bag, she discovered…..the manna she fell in love with was a $20 cut of fromage. The horror!

In that moment lies the problem: it is everything that calms me which also disturbs me about Whole Foods. In that display of fish, where the heads remain attached so the fish can track your movements, a pound costs $20. The cheese arena, because it is not an aisle, but an arena of cheese, tricks you with displays explaining how it was handmade on a farm in Normandy by an artisan named Delphine. It is only later you discover how you spent $40 on Delphine’s hand designed mold. Additionally, I experience problems of class while I am in Whole Foods. Why is it that if I want to eat healthy, hormone-free vegetarian food, must I go to the most expensive food showcase on the East Coast? If my food is without ingredients, shouldn’t it be cheaper? Does this mean only privileged Americans should eat healthy? As I swing down aisles looking at the 37 varieties of almonds, I am reminded that at my local grocery store the choice between sliced and whole seemed to work fine for years. I just wish my Harris Teeter provided more organic choices then spinach. After all, as a sailor, even Popeye didn’t just eat spinach.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 7, 2009 1:34 am

    your blog is great. i hadn’t verbalized the issues i have with whole foods like you have here, but i’m in vehement agreement. i also just don’t feel right about driving to three stores (Harris Teeter, Trader Joe’s and then topping off with Whole Foods) to get a chemical free and wallet friendly fridge full of food.

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