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Pleasures and Politics of Whole Foods Market

July 24, 2014 , , ,

Whole Foods, the behemoth distributers of the natural lifestyle, started in Austin. A visit to the flagship store is both awesome and creepy. The produce, no matter where you are in the country, comes mostly from California. Right there you have strike one against the concept that by shopping at the store you support happy, healthy, local organic growers. Get real, folks. Whole Foods is responsible to the shareholders of the corporation. Their mission (and their mandate) is to make maximum profit for those shareholders.  I think that is all good.  I do not begrudge any healthy business a healthy profit.  When I enter the door I expect to pay more for what I buy, but I also expect a vast selection and very high quality products.  In history, before the rise of the hipster class, hippies managed the distribution of health food and natural products, often by forming cooperatives.  I was always involved with a coop in my youth.  This meant that you actually had to contribute some kind of labor to the cause.  We saved money on our healthy foods, but most importantly, we provided a source that did not exist in the retail market.  I am still a member of the Food Conspiracy, which I actively helped found in Tucson, but I am also the poster child for the Whole Foods Market customer.  I now have more disposable income and less inclination to organize a group buying effort to obtain what I want.  I am still a hippie, but a lazier one.

This is how I look at the whole picture at Whole Foods.  I do grow food in my garden, prepare many products at home, and shop extensively at farmers’ markets.  I would be pleased if all my food could be obtained locally and make some effort to keep my purchasing power close to home.  I visit my Tucson Whole Foods about 10 times a year for the specific purpose of buying certain items I can only find there, as well as to go on a splurge.  When I arrived in Austin I went directly to the flagship store to buy supplies because I am on a holiday, which implies I will be splurging in any way I please.  I did not travel here to save money.  I am here to enjoy the cultural delights of the city.  I love to be able to buy interesting things I do not find where I live.  The Whole Foods does not disappoint in that regard.  They carry everything from clothing to cosmetics, local brews to baked goods…it is all available for a price.  Speaking of price, I generally ignore the cost and just realize that it is not a place to buy day to day items, but is the ultimate shopping heaven for natural products and foods.  I can’t help but notice that there are three very large skyscrapers being constructed in the vicinity of the store at 12th and Lamar.  I believe they will fill with tenants very quickly when they are finished simply because of the proximity to all that highly sought after merchandise.  This is what they call the trickle down effect, I think.  Money will trickle down from those buildings right into the Whole Foods cash registers.  Bon Appetite.

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I like Whole Foods but within their own branding and featuring those.. they substitute corp products that aren’t up to the standards that they require of other companies. and those products. VERY disappointing.


Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

July 26, 2014

They are not all they are cracked up to be.



July 27, 2014

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