Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Journey to the Dark Side

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.


thelifeofdesmondriley said...

Every time I go to Whole Foods I fall in love again. The coffee really is so very good. And here they sell these locally made vegan doughnuts that are out of control. Yes, it's expensive, but nowadays so is Safeway. Trader Joe's is still my go-to market though. Texas needs to get some of those.

Catfish said...

Right? Do they put crack in the coffee? How can it be so good?

Yes, we do need a Trader Joe's. I have no idea why they haven't hit Houston - maybe because we already have so many grocery stores.