Why I Love, and Hate, Whole Foods

What’s not to like about Whole Foods? A store full of organic fruits and veggies, hundreds of different kinds of chocolate bars, an entire freezer section dedicated to gluten free bread- and did I mention the chocolate? But one of the main draws for the Mt. Washington Whole Foods in Baltimore is that there really aren’t a whole lot of grocery stores in the area. The Save a Lot doesn’t even sell sliced cheese, and presents another set of problems when you have a run-in with the lawless characters who shop there. Or should I say, who don’t shop there- according to the armed guard who is always standing by the check out lanes.

But Whole Foods presents another unsavory group of characters: the yuppies. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term ‘yuppie’:

Yuppism… is not definable entirely by income or class. Rather, it is a late-20th-century cultural phenomenon of self-absorbed young professionals, earning good pay, enjoying the cultural attractions of sophisticated urban life and thought, and generally out of touch with, indeed antithetical to, most of the challenges and concerns of a far less well-off and more parochial Middle America. For the yuppie male a well-paying job in law, finance, academia, or consulting in a cultural hub, hip fashion, cool appearance, studied poise, elite education, proper recreation and fitness, and general proximity to liberal-thinking elites, especially of the more rarefied sort in the arts, are the mark of a real man. –Victor Davis Hanson (thanks Wikipedia. Donation made.)

I was in line this week at Whole Foods, awaiting the ‘mystery customer’ who had left their groceries on the belt unattended. When I arrived, the cashier was ringing up the groceries and tapping his hand on the belt impatiently. When she finally returned (arms full of expensive teas, the cold kinds at the end of the registers, full of acai berries and pine needles and fungus), she proceeded to berate the cashier for ringing up the other half of her groceries, as she had clearly made two designated piles. She then cherry-picked through the already rung-up groceries, deciding what she actually wanted to buy. Then, while I waited in line behind her, she activated her credit card on her iphone 4, paid for her groceries, then watched as the cashier finished bagging everything.

It’s the sad truth of Whole Foods. Even if you like the scent of the cinnamon pinecones, or the neatly stacked squash out front, it will always be inhabited by people who are willing to pay $16 for a pound for shrimp. That will go grocery shopping in a Victoria’s Secret yoga suit, or will buy a pound of scented salt for $20. In my heart I will always love you Whole Foods, for all the things I can’t buy at Save a Lot. But when it comes down to it, I don’t really need sliced cheese.

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