a.k.a. Whole Foods
In Texas, you're encouraged to choose sides.
UT (Hook 'em!) vs. A&M.
Rick Perry vs. Everyone Else
Texans vs. Cowboys
And one thing Texans like to take a stand on is which Texas-based grocery chain is best: Whole Foods or HEB. Each has a different image. You're probably familiar with Whole Foods, which is "lovingly" known as "Whole Paycheck" by many fiscally-minded shoppers - it's seen as the grocer-of-choice for hipsters who wear knit hats in summer and boho-chic mamas who name their kiddos things like Lotus or Tangerine. If you don't live in Texas, you might not be familiar with HEB (with its slogan: Here Everything's Better), but it's the suburban mom's palace, mecca for the modern family. They also have a Whole-Foods-like sub-brand, called Central Market.
I've never really thrown my loyalty in with either, since my neighborhood didn't have either store. I usually go to Randall's, which is the name that Safeway stores have around here. And I still do, for my weekly shopping. However, I'd consider myself more of an HEB-type person, someone who likes to save money and do one-stop-shopping.
But about two months ago, a Whole Foods opened just down the street from my house. It's now the closest grocery store to my house. Even though I know that there are lots of problems with Whole Foods' green stance, and particularly with its Ayn-Randian founder John Mackey, I find that I'm now going to Whole Foods for almost all of my mid-week shopping.
Whoa. That is a big pumpkin outside the Whole Foods.
Here are a few reasons I've been sucked in:
- The store already has a neighborhood feel, even though it's part of a giant chain. The employees are so friendly and kind (unlike those at my other neighborhood store, which rhymes with "go-girl" if you take off the L). They thank me for bringing my own bags instead of glaring at me. They even recognize me, unlike the employees at the Go-Girl market I've been frequenting for SEVEN YEARS.
- This particular location serves a diverse clientele, because it's in a diverse neighborhood. Yes, there are a lot of hipsters and yupsters, but they don't rule the store.
- They have the best selection of vegetarian options of any grocery store in the neighborhood.
- The coffee is really good.
I like school gardens. I'm less happy that the ads for this program only feature white children.
No, it's not the Farmer's Market, where I'm going to go in a few minutes here. But if this is the dark side, I don't want to go to the light.