My Love-Hate Relationship with Whole Foods

Honestly, it’s mostly hate—but, oh, those bulk-bin nuts.

Whole foods produce section

Photograph courtesy of Whole Foods Market

It feels good to discover that I’m not alone in my sometimes ambiguous Moral Opposition (yes, capital M and O) to Whole Foods Markets. Fellow Philly Mag staffer Christy Speer Lejeune wrote an elegant diatribe over on the Philly Post today, outlining her mixed emotions when it comes to the grocery chain. Carrying the pros column is convenience: Whole Foods is the closest grocery store to her house. Then there’s the cons list:

Over the course of the last year, the pressure of multiple monthly Whole Foods trips has taken its toll on me: I have begun to resent this sort of double life that’s impossible to maintain—well, impossible to maintain without copious amounts of eye-rolling and giant wads of cash, anyway. I resent everything from the cashier who looks on me with obvious disappointment when I forget my own bags (hey, it’s just like this Portlandia sketch!) to the 47 different kinds of chard in the produce section (but no frozen snowpeas, really!?) to the chalkboard sign that smugly proclaims the 10 healthiest produce items I should be buying.

My Moral Opposition stems mainly from finances: whenever I shop at Whole Foods, I feel like I’m overpaying for what I’m getting. How in the world a few oranges and some maple syrup end up costing $25 is absolutely beyond me. And like Christy, sometimes I want some name-brand junk food (the horror!) instead of all-natural, gluten- and salt-free alternatives. Can’t a girl get a Cheez-It?

But here’s the thing: the bulk bins at Whole Foods are the absolute bomb (hello, 1998). You can get exactly the amount of walnuts, pecans, chia seeds or quinoa you need for a recipe without overpaying for the prepackaged stuff, half of which ends up sitting around unused for months, anyway. I’ve also been known to spring for Whole Foods’ fresh-cut flowers, which last—despite my incredibly non-green thumb—for weeks.

So yes, I’m torn (or a hypocrite—whatever). Go read Christy’s Whole Foods rant (trust me, it’s totally, hilariously worth it), then tell me: Are you in a love-hate Whole Foods relationship, too?

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  • Scargosun

    I am not a millionaire, heck I am not even a hundred thousand-aire but I shop at Whole Foods and it annoys me when people say that it is SOOOO expensive. Not when you compare, actually do the math and compare. If you are buying organic maple syrup every week and truffle oil and artisan cheeses, yes, you are going to do a lot of damage. If you are buying good food for your regular meals, you are not overpaying. It is a place where you actually get what you pay for. That is refreshing considering certain companies want you to believe Froot Loops and Lucky Charms have healthy whole grains.

  • http://www.milescovered.com Carrie

    I have to agree with the comment above. I actually think Whole Foods is quite reasonable if you stick to the basics. Their generic brands are often on point (or cheaper) than the generic brands at ShopRite. Sure their prepared stuff costs an arm and a leg, but that’s expected. (Maple syrup is crazy expensive anywhere you shop.) I honestly think WF got wind of the “whole paycheck” idea and lowered prices on a lot of the basic items. I have a love/hate relationship with them because often when I shop there I can hardly walk down the aisles because it’s so packed. (And I totally agree about their flowers. They rock!)