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16 June 2006

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People who shop at Whole Foods are soccer moms with $200 haircuts and driving Range Rovers. They don't count pennies or use coupons so they don't even notice the outrageous prices at WF. The other type who shops there doesn't make near as much money, but they want to rub elbows with the wealthier and shop where they shop so they're willing to pay high prices for that privilege.

Well, I don't make very much money, but I shop at Whole Foods (and, yes, call it Whole Paycheck) for certain things that are hard to find other places. In New England, the farmers' markets are just starting up now - some won't start for a few more weeks. To get organic produce in the non-market season is tough. The big grocery stores have a few basics, but Whole Foods has a lot more. They also have a great selection of organic meat. I buy most of my beef, pork and lamb directly from local farmers and store in my freezer, but I get chicken, chicken livers, and turkey at Whole Foods, along with nitrate-free bacon and so on. I don't buy fresh tomatoes out of season or other premium vegetable, so I don't end up spending that much more than at the regular grocery store for produce -kale and potatoes and chard stay cheap even at Whole Foods. It's not my favorite place around, but it's useful, particularly for an urban-dweller without a car like me; all-in-one-place shopping can be really helpful for the half-year that markets aren't available.

In truth, I can't afford to act-
ually shop at farmers' markets very
often, either, but I love looking
at beautiful, well-grown food.
I go to Whole Foods & farmers mkt.
with same expectations/mindset as
to a good art museum or crafts
show--to look & admire.

This will end, of course, when
WF starts charging admission, as
most of the good crafts fairs now
do. Just a matter of time.

Thanks for your wonderful blog.

This is a difficult and complex issue, I have to say, and I think there are a multitude of reasons people shop at Whole Foods--not only b/c they're weathy soccer moms or wannabes (and frankly, I think that kind of stereotyping is really counterproductive). I try as much as possible to shop at my local farmers' markets and keep my food dollars local. I also live in Los Angeles and work more than full time at a non-profit. Sometimes in the middle of the week I realize I didn't plan my trip to the market perfectly so I'm out of food at home or I didn't have my weekends available to drive out of the city to a nearby farm--and I still want to make the best choice I can for a yummy, healthy dinner. I still try to make the best choice I can and that sometimes ends up being Whole Foods.

I really respect and admire and love the work Tana does on this site and in her life re: food and farms. I have concerns about "big organic" and have taken Michael Pollan's book to heart like many other foodbloggers, and ideally would like to get all my food locally. But I worry about developing a "holier than thou" attitude about food--I think many folks shopping at Whole Foods are probably doing it b/c they think it's the right thing to do, for their health and the planet, not because they're consumer whores. Doing the right thing food-wise is a time-consuming and intensive journey, and many good people--people who work very hard at solving other problems we face on this planet--are doing the best that they can with the time and info they have. That doesn't mean we can't educate these folks and work to change the system, but we gotta be willing to meet people where they're at.

My mom is the biggest Whole Foods fan, ever. It has become the only place she’s willing to buy groceries. Last week she bought a $4 head of cauliflower! She has always bought into perceived quality from high prices; she just won’t trust any other source if it’s less expensive. Another thing is she finds shopping there leisurely, because it’s “bright, clean, and well-organized.”

I also saw a 60 Minutes piece of Whole Foods a week or so ago on the history of the store, its pricing, and how big it has become--an 8 billion dollar business, to be exact. Do you know when exactly Walmart is going organic?

I shopped at Whole Foods when I lived in Vegas, and I was thankful every day that we had one nearby. The truth is, I completely envy you for having a farmers' market where you can buy local produce. I would do it in a heartbeat; but you do understand, right, that other parts of the country aren't as blessed as where you live in CA? Vegas has no such place, and the only options that I had for buying organic produce and meat were stores like Whole Foods and Wild Oats.

It is not only the very rich who shop at Whole Foods -- people like me who want good food and have no other way of getting it also do.

I live in Florida now, and while we do have a market on Saturdays, that is only one day a week. I have no way of buying organic meat, and I haven't found a bakery yet that makes good bread here. What I wouldn't give for a Whole Foods right down the street ...

Thanks everyone, and let me make it clear that I am not anti-Whole Foods. I just don't need one. I realize people do, and that's fine and dandy with me!

Honestly. I'm aware that I live in a bountiful region of the world, and I am aware that people often envy California produce. I don't believe in envy, myself, though sometimes I experience it...I envy people who get to see lightning bugs (Yankees call 'em "fireflies") and people who regularly get thunder and lightning. I am never envious of a pair of shoes or most anything "fancy."

Nothing's perfect, and we do the best we can. I'm sure if I lived in the desert, I'd been shopping at a Whole Foods, too.

Hello, I don't need it either. I feel a little sorry for those that do.

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