The Whole Foods Guide to Improved Self Perception
I'm a bit ashamed to admit it, but Whole Foods has totally got my number. If it was a politician, I would vote for it. Today, E. and I needed some vitamins and we don't have a trip to Petaluma scheduled so I searched for the nearest Whole Foods and found one about 25 minutes north of us in a very pricey little burb whose name means the plural of cats in a language other than English :) You see, E. and I live in a town that has no health food store, only stores with health food "sections."
Whole Foods knows me better than you might think for a corporate chain that pretends to be eco-friendly and that charges $8 for an eggplant by affixing an "organic" label to it. It knows that I like to see myself as healthy-- that I prefer foods without preservatives, fillers, sugars, chemicals, etc and that I like my food to be as close to its source as is humanly possible without beheading my own chickens and mashing my own cornmeal. Yet it also knows that, despite what my brother-in-law persists in believing about me, I am not a hippie. Indeed I have more liberal-leaning views on things than some--like my belief in the need to invest in/rely upon alternative fuels to oil (though this is quickly becoming a mainstream viewpoint), humanity over the bottom line, and community before corporations--but I draw the line at the true "au naturel" ethos of the hippie mentality. I'm not vegan or even vegetarian. I don't always care if there's synthetic fabric in my wardrobe, and I slip into obedience of "the man" on plenty of occasions. I'm just not an idealist set on trying to change the world.
I don't fit the more traditional "outward" stereotypes of hippie either. Rather than the patchouli oil and unshowered dreadlock look (and trust me--we saw plenty of that in Santa Cruz this weekend if you think I'm making blanket generalizations), Whole Foods knows I prefer the yoga-taking, J.Crew-wearing, independently--wealthy look that you see on all their posters even if I do/am none of those things. Whole Foods knows that I would like to see myself as those things.
It also knows that the lady who boxed me in in the parking lot by parking her Chevy Subdivision so tight that I could hardly get into my side, while talking on her cell phone and drinking coffee at the same time; and the man emerging in loafers and madras shorts from his Hummer want to see themselves in the the above-mentioned way as well.
So even though I might pay $5 for 1 bell pepper; $60 for three different vitamins; and $30 for 4 chicken breasts (this really did happen to me!), they also know that I can't resist those pristine-looking rows of shiny vegetables, with just enough dirt left on to make it seem I'm buying them fresh out of the organic farmer's dirt...the seed and nut filled breads; the rows of bulk bin oats and rices...the very un-Safewayness of their stores--they know that they are improving my own sense of self, and for that I, and the hundred other people crowding the aisles, will gladly fork over the ridiculous amounts of money it costs to shop there.
I do it even though I feel slightly guilty by the time I get onto the highway.