Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Why I Hate Whole Foods

Hate is a strong word. One I usually reserve for things like beets, birds, and bad hair days. But after my latest shopping excursion at Whole Foods, I am enthusiastically adding it to my short list of Things I Hate. Move over mincemeat, you've got company.

When I first heard that a Whole Foods market was coming to our neighborhood, I was excited. I wanted to like them for a few reasons: first, every Top Chef episode ever filmed shows the contestants pulling up to a Whole Foods, then scrambling out of the car like it's Pamplona and they are running with the bulls, plus shopping carts. Secondly, I heard they had a special escalator that lets you take your shopping cart on it, which is a gimmick, and I am never one to pass up a good gimmick. And finally, I pinned a recipe on Pinterest for some amazing-sounding autumn apple spice cupcakes, and the recipe plainly stated that the little garnishy marzipan apples on the top were available at Whole Foods. Now, it's one of those recipes I pinned but will never actually make, because it has 48 steps, but just knowing that the garnish was, in fact, obtainable, gave me great pride. Watch out, Martha Stewart: there is one less degree of separation between us.

And then, the whole world (or at least the total population of south Charlotte) went berserk over the new grocery store on the block. I noticed during the first week the store opened that the entire right lane in front of the store had now become the Whole Foods turn lane. A year later, it is still that way. In an ironic twist, there is also a Burger King next door, so while I am crawling along in the stagnant lane, trying to bypass the WF traffic, I always laugh when they lose a car to the home of the Whopper. Take that, veggie burger lovers!

I have rarely driven by Whole Foods without the parking lot being at capacity. The store has its own parking deck, and I am sure that sucker is full to the max as well. Even when the store is closed, there is always a ridiculously high number of cars in the lot. It's like people can't bear to leave. My question, after eyeing the clientele in this oh-so-healthy-for-you-and-the-world-around-you market is: aren't most of these people opposed to cars? I thought our carbon footprints were trampling the environment, killing polar bears, and melting the ice caps or something? And yet there are SUVs the size of school buses littering the parking lot 24/7.

Not that all the vehicles are SUVs, mind you. Which leads me to the next irritation of this whole Whole Foods phenomenon: the half dozen electric car charging stations that are taking up precious parking spaces. These spots are designated only for those very sporty, high-performance adult go-carts like the Prius, the Spark, or the Leaf. It seems to me that if only electric cars are allowed to park in those spots, then all the other spaces should be reserved for those of us who drive real cars. Otherwise, isn't this some form of vehicular discrimination? Obviously I am being excluded from parking based solely on the fact that my car doesn't need an extension cord. I am sure that is a violation of at least one of my amendment rights, plus, no one should ever be considered inferior to a method of transportation called a Leaf.

All of this may have you wondering what in the world caused me to venture to Whole Foods in the first place, since most of you know I do my grocery shopping mainly in the luxurious confines of the Super Walmart. However, in the special cases of cocktails and gourmet snacks, I am willing to make exceptions to my routine. In preparation for a visit from an out-of-town friend, I was attempting to make a citrus basil sangria, in which the main ingredient was the apparently exotic tangerine. Having already exhausted three other stores, I just knew Whole Foods would have a bag of these elusive little fruits. I am sure that at some point, the Top Chef people have used tangerines, right?

Once I finally located a parking spot appropriate for (ahem) cars of my kind, I found my much-sought-after tangerines in the produce department, which was just slightly more busy than the mall on Black Friday. Whole Foods doesn't sell much else of anything that makes my grocery list--I am never at home in a place where Diet Coke is not welcome--and so I started trying to make my way through the huddled masses to the checkout.

And that is when I ran upon the kids club display. You know the one that, in every other grocery store you've ever been in, offers bored children something like a cookie or some candy to numb the pain of the food shopping experience? At Whole Foods, the kids club has fruit instead of cookies. Sorry, little Johnny, no chocolate chip anything for you today. Just your delicious choice of apple, orange, or banana. If my mother had drug my brother and I to the grocery store and then offered us a banana for our trouble, she would have had an angry, chubby kid mutiny on her hands. No, no, Whole Foods, this will not do.

Think about this kids club situation this way: do you want your children to think of junk food as their unicorn? As some delicious, mystical creature that they hear about, but never enjoy? Some kid at school will take them on a magic cafeteria carpet ride one day at lunch, and the next thing you know, your kid is stealing money from your wallet to score some Cool Ranch Doritos in a deserted corner of the playground when no one is watching. Give the kid a cookie and save him from a future of buying Chips Ahoy on the black market. I paid my dreadlock-covered cashier for my purchase, which he deemed "groovy," and trudged to my car.

And so, Whole Foods, I hate you. You seem to think that I am not smart enough to make sensible choices on my own--and a lot of the time I'm not--but even so, I don't need my grocery store doing it for me. Food freedom for us all! No more automobile segregation! United we stand, divided we get stuck eating naval oranges for dessert.

As consolation (because I know the Whole Foods corporation is devastated by this revelation), I would like to add that Whole Foods is terrible, yet still not as quite as bad or weird as Earth Fare, who sells things like crystals instead of deodorant and something called the Diva Cup for ladies (I'm not even going to elaborate on that one, I'm only mentioning it to you because I saw it once in Earth Fare and it scarred my psyche. Google it, and prepare to be grossed out). Oh, and you know that special escalator in Whole Foods, the one that you can take your shopping cart on? It turns out that disappointingly, it only goes to the parking garage. Which is where I'll be, in a dark corner selling dime bags of Doritos to disgruntled kids club members.

1 comment:

  1. THAT:'S why you hate Whole Foods?? Because of bad traffic, car hypocrisy, and trying to get kids as excited by tangerines as you are? You don't say anything about how this evil empire is slowly and systematically replacing teriffic organic brands with their own terrible Whole Foods label -oatmeal, tortillas, and now prepackaged spinach. Even the non- whole foods brands they will carry is shrinking to be the terrible huge companies, like Bob's Red Mill. if you want polenta, now you have to buy Bob's Red Mill, which i hate almost as much as Whole Foods, instead of the wonderful spanish brand they used to have. So they buy out perfectly good local organic markets and then seed it with their Whole Foods "made in a facility that manufactures peanuts" spawn which much of the time makes me ill.


Remember: brains and looks will only take you so far, but flattery will get you everywhere.