Shopping at Whole Foods has always been an interesting experience for me. Back when I was a vegetarian living in Phoenix, it was about the only place to find good non-meat options. The shoppers tended to be skinny granola types, quite a change from the average grocery store in that area. Once I moved to Seattle though, the holistic/organic/whole-earth/mother goddess/probiotic/homeopathic/non-GMO/gluten-free/artisanal thing was ramped up to a whole new level. Many people here take that shit very seriously and they’ll buy anything that has any of those words on the label. It’s fascinating, but also a bit depressing because it’s all just marketing. That’s all it is.
I will admit that there are benefits to buying certain organic produce (studies have shown that not all organic veggies are worth the extra cost), and I personally buy only no-hormone meats and eggs from cage-free hens…because I think it’s shitty to treat animals inhumanely for our own benefit and I won’t support those companies. But honestly, unless you grow and raise all your food yourself, there’s really only so much these food companies can do to make their products any healthier than their competitors’. Slap the word “organic” or “artisan” on a package of corn tortillas with a premium price, however, and you’ll have these Whole Foodies slapping their money on the counter in no time.
But you don’t have to schlep all the way to Kentucky in order to visit America’s greatest shrine to pseudoscience. In fact, that shrine is a 15-minute trip away from most American urbanites.
I’m talking, of course, about Whole Foods Market. From the probiotics aisle to the vaguely ridiculous Organic Integrity outreach effort (more on that later), Whole Foods has all the ingredients necessary to give Richard Dawkins nightmares. And if you want a sense of how weird, and how fraught, the relationship between science, politics, and commerce is in our modern world, then there’s really no better place to go.