Saturday, April 28, 2007

Whole Foods

Hello from Evanston, Ill. where we're visiting our Northwestern attending daughter, Annie. I've asked her to be my guest blogger today. Here's a piece she wrote last year. Not to get overly sentimental but as her father, I couldn't be more proud.

Today’s Rant: Whole Foods

I must admit that I’m not sure what I hate more: the institution of Whole Foods itself or the religious Whole Foods shoppers. Thus I feel it necessary to examine each.

Despite the fact that I single-handedly keep “Splenda” in business, I am in no way opposed to organic, natural products. What I am opposed to is (a) the idea that everything at whole foods is in some way healthier, and (b) charging an arm and a leg because they’ve written eight lines of BS about all the oh-so-healthy things in their products. This stuff isn’t that damn good for you! I understand that there are no preservatives in pure sugar, but it is still sugar! I could drink a bag of all natural sugar-cane, and I’d still develop diabetes. Oooooh, its oh-so natural. Well I got news for you Whole Foods, I’ll take a couple preservatives if it means that I’ll still have enough money to buy groceries in two weeks.

And there are the idiots, the former hippies. The ones who pick up a $20 loaf of bread because it has fibers from the Hicabutusism tree in West Africa, where little magical all-natural fairies plow the soil until the perfect grain is achieved. Get a grip, people. Wonderbread has little magical fairies too, they’re call sweat-shop workers!

Plus, there are the people who will subscribe to anything with “free” written somewhere on the package, and by that I’m obviously not referring to the price. Gluton-free, Carb-free, Nutrion-free. Didn’t Billy Preston teach you that “nothing from nothing leaves nothing?” I believe that these “free” packages should really mention what is going into the product so that you can lose a little bit of Extiohydrosis, or whatever the hell they come up with. If it were up to me, the labels would read a little more like this: “Organic, wheat-free, TONS OF FAT” Though I think that beating the delusional shoppers over the head with the item itself might be a better option.

And for hippies, these people are pretty aggressive with their carts. Knocking people off at the pass to make sure they get their “extra squishy tofu” and their Extihydrosis-free crackers. Weren’t you people fighting against capitalism or was that just a figment of my imagination?



R.A. Porter said...

I've found the best way to get back at the damn hippies is by buying the best thing they sell: really good meat. No longer living close to a city where food is important, there are no decent butchers around, but Whole Foods has quite a good butcher department. So I get my red meat there and watch the hippies cringe.

As for most of the pre-packaged food and dry goods they sell, I'd much rather buy from a normal store. Better selection, and they leave the fat (and the flavor) in. Besides: who wants fake Oreos and soymilk??? And all-natural Cheetos?!? Insanity.

Ian said...

Don't tell me -- your father is making you shop at Whole Foods! Ken, how could you?

I can't think of any justification for obsessing on what other people - in this case those damn "hippies" - are doing. I'm sure that even where you are there are places you can buy Wonderbread and Cap'n Crunch.

Now, I'll just add a little soy milk to my bowl of Hemp-O's, and get back to watching PBS.

Anonymous said...

I only go to Whole Foods around the holidays to ransack their supply of egg nog samples. And of course to frighten the hippies by exclaiming my love for Republicans.

And their gingerbread. If I was regularly looking to go bankrupt, I'd buy their gingerbread regularly. Always good.

Dave said...

I've been to Whole Foods exactly three times, and each time I've had a panic attack, thanks to their strategy of building the stores to be too small and too easily crowded.

rob! said...

i dont know; the Whole Foods in this area actually charges LESS for some items that local markets do.

i Silk brand Soy Milk, and WF charges about 50 cents less than the regular markets. sometimes i think the reg markets dont wanna carry that stuff so they mark up the price more.

that said, WF is HORRENDOUSLY over-crowded. when i shop its like i'm on a commando mission--i hit my targets and i'm outta there!

Anonymous said...

I agree. Overpriced, overcrowded and overattituded.

The thing that always shocks me about WF is that most of their overpriced produce, which should be their flagship, is usually pretty bad. I've never gotten a decent ear of corn from them, wheras, Gelson's produce is usually worth the money. For everything else Trader Joe's all the way. We live out of that store.

Unknown said...

whole foods = whole paycheck

Anonymous said...

Good post. I thought I was the only one who noticed how damn rude the hippie shoppers in the health food stores are. Visualize some manners for a change.

rclz said...

Has anyone seen their Under Development section of their web page? Ambitious bunch, I'll say that for them. I've never been as I can be over charged quite nicely by the really huge health food store in my neighborhood without going into Seattle, thank you very much.


Cathy Fielding said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cathy Fielding said...


You should be quite proud. She's a chip off the old shoulder!

By Ken Levine said...

Had to delete an abusive comment. My blog. My call.

Emily Blake said...

Trader Joe's is Whole Foods with less unecessary crap, and cheaper. I shop there. They have a cashier named Hunter who is a hackie-sac playing white boy surfer dude with dreds.

He likes when I buy Orangina.

Anonymous said...


You were right to remove that abusive post. It was nasty, mean and uninformed. I never understand why people make up things that aren't even there and then take offense to them.

Enjoyed Annie's rant. It was funny and dead on.

Anonymous said...

Interstingly at the home of Whole Foods' corporate headquarters in Austin, Texas, the state's largest regular grocery chain, H-E-B, keeps WF's prices a little honest with their own clone, the Central Market grocery on North Lamar. Same concept (but laid out like an Ikea in that you have to navigate along a path from department to department), with better pricing due to bulk purchases, since H-E-B's regular stores around Austin can range to over 100,000 square feet.

Anonymous said...

Though I live in Southern California (land of health food), I live inland out where they grow mullets and dirt and cook meth and worship jesus so we don't have a 'Whole Foods' nearby. We shop for our food at another ostensibly 'health' food market out here called 'Trader Joes'. Trader Joes, like Whole Foods is crowded, yes.. but with Yuppies not Hippies, and well - yes.. the Yuppies are rude.. but who cares? It's not like I ever cared what the million pound sourpusses and their teaming brats barging their way around over at the Ralph's Deli ever thought of me. I don't know why you should care if I ram my cart into yours accidentally (or what) if I am trying to buy something yummy like tofu. Oh - and take your 'good manners' and shove them, you rightwing nutjob hypocrite.
As already mentioned - the price of the food at Trader Joes is often similar to if not less than the nearby Ralph's Grocers, though I still have to go to Ralph's for stuff like razor blades and ziplock baggies.. which is a minor inconvenience. AND - The meat is better at Whole Foods and places like, by the way.. because we like it that way. Not all hippies are vegetarian - you may note - and we who do still eat meats have decided we prefer the free-range to the caged bird, etc. for reasons that are both esthetic (tastes better) and more ethical (animal gets a more 'dignified' home setting) (Even though it costs more.. considerably more in this case - we have decided we would rather pay more for our meat, and get a better cut/more humane meat harvesting process). How funny that the (would-be) hippy bashing cretin instead makes my point for me and regularly forsakes his capitalist approved/hormone-laden beef substitute whatnot for my juicy steaks.. :) Moron.
As to who would want healthy 'mock' versions of junk foods.. my guess would be this R.A. Porter guy in about 4-7 years after he's really packed on the pounds -- but I'm no nutritionist.. Keep enjoying those cheetos, though, pal. Seriously.. you are subsidizing your future health costs with your grocery budget - and I don't care. You will ultimately get the bad deal on all of that in the form of cancer, etc. - so have at it.. dummie..
Regular milk tastes like barf to me.. what's so wrong with soymilk? You know what is disgusting though? Low fat chocolate.. (gives you diarhea and makes you fart like crazy) and sugar substitutes.. they taste sickly sweet and give me a headache and are known to cause cancer - I would try to cut out the splenda if possible, Miss - if you are really injesting that much.. Sidenote - trick to avoiding the crowds (which notably are also annoyingly present at the regular grocery stores on weekends and Holidays) -- Go to the store during non-peak hours! Weeknights, weekend(nights - you loser), weekdays.. anytime your schedule permits you to shop in peace.. you will be amazed how pleasant any grocery store can be without lot's of annoying idiots/other people (like yourselves and me) there.

Anonymous said...

Haven't seen a REAL hippie in 25 years, and I was one.

When I was producing for Sweet Dick Whittington, we had former health foods advocate and nutritionist Euell Gibbons on the show, Sweet Dick turned him loose in the barren field behind the station with the transmitters on it, to see if he could survive out there on his own for 15 minutes. Apart from finding some wild mustard plants, Euell would have died if we hadn't let him back in to our coffee-and-doughnuts corner.

When Euell died a few months later, and Adelle Davis dropped dead mid-interview on "The Dick Cavett Show", both while spouting "Live longer through health foods" crap, I knew it was all a crock. My grandfather drank beer and ate junky crap, and lived far longer than Gibbons or Davis.

Health Food. They'll kill you.

SomeGuyInVA said...

Funny thing is, Whole Foods readily admits that they aren't in the grocery store business at all. Grocery stores make a notoriously low margin. Whole Foods is in the entertainment business. They sell the feel-good experience and make a huge profit. Kind of like the Starbucks of food distribution.

Anonymous said...

What galls me the most about WF (well, the one up the street from me, that is) is that they only coffee I can drink is a subsititute (I know, feel my pain) but they don't open a can and brew it for customers to buy by the cup. They refuse to do it. I have tried to get them to see the benefits of serving a caffiene alternative given that they are an upscale, froo-froo establishment catering to the pretentious yuppies of our richie-rich town but they don't "feel the need" despite their agreement with me that food intolerances and food allergies are massively on the rise. I only buy that one drink product from them. The rest I buy at regular grocery stores and do a lot of heathly cooking at home. Saves me money and headaches, I'll tell ya. Fuck Whole Foods and their pretentious IKEA wannabe operation.


Anonymous said...

Pretty much everything that you said about Whole Foods could be said about any organic/health food store. There are a couple of good things about them, generally:

1) They're really good for people who have special diets. "Gluten-free", for example, is what people with celiac disease have to have, and if they don't have stores like these nearby then they have to order the stuff by mail.

2) They carry oddball ingredients in bulk bins so that, if you want to try a recipe that calls for a cup of buckwheat flour, you don't have to buy five pounds of it and then let it sit in your cupboard until it attracts weevils.

Otherwise... most packaged "organic" food tastes suspiciously like the generic or store-brand stuff from supermarkets.

Jesi said...

oh, you got the name wrong, it's called, Whole Paycheck. i don't shop there.

Anonymous said...

Like most of the other people who've posted, I'm not a big fan of Whole Foods hippie chic approach to mass market shopping.

But as someone noted, one good aspect of Whole Foods and this boom of organic food is that it makes it easier for people who have special diets.

I just found out my son has Celiac's, and the fact that we can buy gluten free food at WHole Foods and Trader Joe's and even the local grocery has made life much easier.

Aaron Barnhart said...

Well, of course the unique Evanston angle on this whole rant is that for many years there was a wonderful little store called Oak Street Market that was on, oddly enough, Oak Avenue next to the Evanston Post Office. It sold all natural foods and churned wheatgrass juice while you waited and had narrow aisles so that shoppers bumped into each other and, one would like to think, had life-changing encounters.

And then Whole Foods bought it and closed it down. And opened the monstrosity it operates today at the ground floor of a luxury condo high-rise.

Now we live in Kansas City and we shop at a small grocery store with narrow aisles and cramped shelves. Wild Oats bought it a few years ago, tried to shut it down, failed, and decided that having the highest revenue-per-square-foot Wild Oats in the Midwest was a nice consolation prize.

We'll enjoy it while we can ... since Whole Foods just bought Wild Oats.

Anonymous said...

From curvey11, thank you for writing about Whore Foods I mean Whole Foods. I really think you pegged it when you stated that you don't have anything against organic, but, would like to have enough money left in your pocket so you can have a kitchen to store all your organic goodies. I really would love to see someone buy out Whole Foods and turn it into a Wallgreens because we need more of those. I really wish people would wise up and see Whole Foods for what it is... A money making monopoly machine that does not give a shit about the rainforest, your health, or if you are a vegan or a carnivore. But if you are a vegan or carnivore they have it all covered not because they care about diversity of people, but because it is a diverse way to make money.
I shopped at Whole foods for awhile and realized, Holy Cow I gotta stop, I am gonna go broke! And now that Wild Oats is gone there are no more competition and many of the cool products they carried are gone too. Well thanks for letting me rant and congratulations on your daughter going to Northwestern, a fine school.

Anonymous said...