“What do you think it’s like to work at Whole Foods?”
I asked my friends Melissa and Susan. I was checking out the cashiers with their white girl dreadlocks, nose rings and grungy sweaters. The impulse section had granola bars made of bulger wheat and Adbuster Magazine. I thought to myself: This could be a sweet gig!
What? But these cashiers are hipsters! Surely they’re unionized! But if I really thought about it, of course Whole Foods was super corporate. It gathered the progressive, idealistic liberals close to its bosom and told them: “Shhh, don’t worry, you can buy your free-range, organic, brown eggs here.”
My husband and I are frequent Kroger shoppers. We like Kroger a lot and I’m increasingly using their “Frouffy Organic Section” for my dairy free products and my ethnic TV dinners. That’s about as fancy as it gets for me. Before that, I went to Wal-Mart religiously. It was a one stop shop for me even though I have a certain resentment towards Wal-Mart (we’ll get to that another day).
Before that, during tougher times, my mom and I would go grocery shopping at Aldi. The highlight of these shopping trips, was getting my quarter back from the shopping cart. Back then, I suppose the company was trying to stem shopping cart theft. Don’t worry, you always got your quarter back! Now even before that, when times were even tougher, my mother was on WIC, (Women, Infants and Children) a federally funded health and nutrition program. In fact, my husband’s mother was on it too. We’ve bonded over government cheese and King Vitamin cereal.
So this is the long way through my story just to say, I should have been a little more realistic upon entering a Whole Foods. That’s to say, I shouldn’t have so fuckin’ impressed. For a girl who couldn’t afford to eat Tater-tots, but had to eat Tater-babies instead, I should have kept my shit together.
These are the reasons I need to keep my shit together inside of a Whole Foods:
- Things can get pretty damn pricey! (Duh, Charish, duh) You can go in there thinking: I’m helping the environment by eating these Michigan grown plums! But then it’s gets slippery. You can easily pay $13 for a loaf of bread. In fact, everything in WF seems to cost $13, from goat’s milk soap to Sobe noodles! I spent $50 on five items. I don’t usually do that but my sense of reality was slightly altered.
- Clear division of class. The Ann Arbor WF clientele consists of middle-aged women in fur coats, yuppie parents who WILL NOT tolerate gluten, peanuts, dairy or taste in young Jimmy’s diet, and hipsters who belong to or fuck members of the band “Bulger Wheat Junkies.” What you WILL NOT see are: many minorities, People wearing flannel because the have to, people who work blue collared jobs, ect.
- According to the dumpster diving documentary, Dive!, WF hates dumpster divers. Now think what you want about “freegans,” it might not be your thing, but they aren’t hurting a company who’s just throwing out $13 loaves of bread. If it’s expensive trash, then it’s expensive trash. The point is, WF is so against dumpster divers that some locations put locks on their dumpsters, letting their expensive trash go bad. Read more about Freeganism here.
- Don’t let the cool cashiers fool you. WF may call their employees “team members,” don’t let yourself believe that there are Teamsters anywhere on WF grounds. Like Starbucks, another company that lures progressive, bulger eating liberals, WF is totally anti-union. They bust that stuff up rather quickly.
Now does this turn me off of shopping at Whole Foods? Financially, I don’t have choice! Ha, do you think I can actually buy weekly groceries there?? However, I do enjoy going there, occasionally, to see how the other half lives. The first time my husband and I went there, we may have sounded like hillbilly hobos, ’cause we were damned impressed. “This steak is $30 dollars!”
I know that I don’t belong there. No, don’t cry for me. I won’t take the pity. I’m happy going to my unionized Kroger and getting regular eggs. It’s what I can afford and when we live in a nation where ALL citizens can afford good quality-made food products, then yeah, maybe I won’t feel so conflicted about Whole Foods. But for now, I’m going to slooowly use this $13 carton of coconut milk coffee creamer, because I’m a progressive lactose-intolerant liberal, who’s on a budget.