Ah your darling Whole Foods got fined by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). The store was caught red handed (or should we say green handed) running a contaminated food prep plant. Water from the plant ceiling was dripping over fruits and vegetables. SOME news for the store that claims to be the ultimate standard of hygienic and healthy groceries!
Now don’t let this opening fool you that I don’t like Whole Foods. I love them and who wouldn’t; A store that has turned the mundane chore of grocery shopping into the highlight of your weekend! But I only go there when in the mood to splurge and pamper myself. For rest of the times us minions head to Walmart.
For those not familiar with Whole Foods brand, this food chain is the King and pioneer of upscale grocery shopping. One can spend their whole paycheck and whole Saturday at Whole Foods for this wholesome experience. Recently at their Allen, TX location I saw an ambulance parked right outside the store in a crowded weekend parking lot. There was no apparent emergency. Perhaps it was just a precautionary measure in case anyone got a heart attack right after seeing their price tags. And then there is their guilt appeal marketing, the attempt to woo customers for a higher cause. Many of store’s high tag items e.g. $20 per pound fish, advertise their partnership with low income farms in South America and Asia. A typical display would read “By purchasing this item you are helping the farmers in Ecuador or Vietnam produce the best possible products”. No wonder by the time you are done paying for groceries and head to the food court to feast on your fresh Quinoa salad your wallet feels like it actually fed an entire continent before feeding you.
Anyways jokes and complaints apart, browsing thru their shelves and aisles is a wonderfully pleasant experience. Special perks on weekends are the different vendor stalls offering yummy food samples. You can try gourmet salads, breads, juices, and desserts at no cost. A friend of mine is very particular about his weekly ritual; spending Saturday mornings with his wife at either Whole Foods or Central Market. He says it’s his weekly outing. One can splurge on beauty products, mineral oils, delicious soap bars (yes you almost want to lick them) and what not. On my last trip they let me make my own signature essential oil cool mist and sugar hand scrub. What a splash. You can pretty much make your own breakfast cereal combo too.
Goes without saying that my husband or for that matter any man is not very fond of such trips where his woman turns into Alice in Wonderland. He is more like a Walmart and Dollar Store guy and can’t get why I am so amused by product labels and display show cases. But you know ladies, who wants to see the Walmart parking lot on a weekend – a recipe to ruin it right there!!!
Not sure how it is now, but back in the days when I lived in Pakistan grocery was just grocery. You make a list, give it to the shopkeeper and monthly stock would be delivered to your home. As for fruits and vegetables you buy fresh everyday from street vendors. Fresh tasted so good and it was not labeled organic either. Why? Because there was nothing inorganic to begin with. It took me a while to adjust to the American ritual of weekly groceries and also to get used to inorganic. Fruits and vegetables in America look wholesome, shiny, and attractive but taste quite bland. It’s the opposite in Pakistan. Items look small, slim, and dusty but taste like heaven or is it nostalgia taking me over? Anyone not originally from the first world, what do you say? Do share your thoughts.
In one of my favorite books “Poisonwood Bible” the heroine after much struggle with African drought and famine when finally lands in America and goes to a grocery store she gets flabbergasted and overwhelmed by choices. Months later she decides to move back; put off, ironically, not by the scarcity but abundance of resources. Yes grocery shopping could be overwhelming and as my daughter aptly puts it “You need to recalibrate all 5 senses” to pick that right shampoo, ketchup, or toothpaste out of the hundreds of choices beautifully laid out there.
Happy shopping to all.