Hello, my name is Rian, and I am a Whole Foods Market addict. Some people have a shoe budget; I have a Whole Foods budget. And I blow right through it on a weekly basis. I love everything about Whole Foods, from the fake chalkboard signs and the dim lighting, to the employees who trim the endive into perfect little cylinders.  I know that it’s all a ploy, that a hundred suited executives have assessed the juxtaposition of wild orchids and fresh spring daisies. But do I care? Not a whit.
I revel in the eco-pretentiousness of people filling their tiny cloth sacks with imported Turkish figs. The smell of organic produce wafts through the store like a heady perfume, tempered with a note of, what is that…money? Ten dollars a pound for satsuma oranges with stems still attached? I was just musing the other day about how devoid the marketplace seemed of leafy, stemmed fruits. Thanks for rectifying the situation, Whole Foods. I’ll take ten.

Thank god. I thought I was going to have to figure out how to cut a mango.

I wander the aisles and imagine I’m in a French market, sussing out the subtle differences between triple cream brie that has been aged for five weeks and double cream camembert that has been aged for seven. Where else can I find dried lobster mushrooms and sea salt smoked directly in the sea? Or a pig that was gently caressed as it took its final breaths? What’s that you say? Shh, don’t speak. The Animal Welfare Chart doesn’t lie.
Fair trade coffee and bananas. Gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, sugar-free pies. Hand carved soap, twelve kinds of meatless sausage, guilt-free hamburger. Nowhere else can I pick up a baby gift made out of hemp, a bag of chia seeds (presumably to grow my very own chia pet), and a pineapple with a purpose in one go. If it looks like it’s packaged in beat up card stock and has the words “printed with vegetable dye” slapped across it, my knee-jerk reaction is to grab six. Sure, the chemical-free dish soap doesn’t suds, and my clothes are stiff and scentless after a wash in their store brand detergent, but I feel so good about myself for saving the baby panda bears that I just don’t care.

At Whole Foods, you learn something new every day.

I’ve tried to venture back to the  other grocery stores. As many people have so helpfully pointed out, it would be a heck of a lot cheaper to do the bulk of my shopping at an affordable big box and only pick up the odd organic item at Whole Foods. But since I don’t tolerate fools, I pay them no mind.
When I do step foot into one of those meccas of despair, usually because I need something like Heinz ketchup or iodized salt, I have an adverse physical reaction to the harsh fluorescent lighting, the lingering smell of plastic bags,  and the overall sense of impending doom. The sound of anxious, miserable babies fills the air. Their non-organic diapers must be chafing them, poor things. I dash about the aisles, trying to make it in and out in under ten minutes, but I can’t find a damn thing. The shelves are too tall, the packaging so unrecognizably un-recycled. I attempt to track down a member of the staff, but they hide behind pallets stacked high with trans-fat filled Ritz Crackers. There’s no African Violet flower arranging going on here. They’ve never heard of wasabi hummus or watermelon aqua fresca, and kale chip recipes are conspicuously absent from their store flyers. When I finally make my way through the fray to the finish line, the checkout lady ignores my brightly colored Envirosax bags and starts shoving everything in plastic. My obvious throat clearing and gesturing do nothing to slow her down. Well played, checkout lady. Well Played.
Luckily, there’s a Whole Foods right across the street from my local Safeway, so after my brush with unmitigated terror, I can book it back to civilization. I grab a miniature cart and wander amongst the micro-greens and heirloom tomatoes, breathing a sigh of relief. “Would you like to sample some fresh buffalo mozzarella with an orange-infused balsamic vinegar from Modena?” Why, yes, Whole Foods. Yes, I would.

It's like you can see straight into my heart. Best Friends Forever?

I pay for my Thai basil and my agave sweetener, mark my calendar for the upcoming in-market kale spa, and tote my organic, overpriced treasures home in a reusable bag that reads, “I Helped Save a Farmer Today.” I’ll be back again soon, Oh-Kingdom-of-Pesticide-Free-Purple-Cauliflower. How does tomorrow sound?