Whole Dollars

 You are what you eat.
You eat what you grew up on.
And I’m from the South where, if it ain’t fried, it ain’t food! 

I confess that my upbringing is taking a toll as my metabolism takes a dive, so I’ve begun reducing the sugar in my coffee and denying the call of dry Frosted Flakes as a late-night snack while watching Mad Men.  

Time to step it up a notch.   

Off I went to a bright, shiny Whole Foods that recently graced my little town.  When the first signs went up, I gotexcited about a new store, until it was months overdue.  Then my eyes glazed over the empty storefront and, much like any other regularly traveled route, the building became part of the landscape.  Like other ‘soon coming’ signs that are still languishing, maybe poor Novato wouldn’t get its Whole Foods.  But finally, it opened.  It was an additional two or three months before I thought to check it out, even though I literally had to pass by it every day.

As I ventured through the doors from an underground parking lot illustrated with a simple earthy mural of a Marin map (nice), I wondered whether I am really willing to add a 5th stop to my weekly shopping destinations.  I already go to Target for kid’s lunch stuff and snacks, Grocery Outlet (yes, I said it) for cheap Sara Lee bread and almost-expired deals, Trader Joe’s for my Naan, General Tso’s sauce, canned boneless salmon and the bulk of my groceries, and Safeway for last-minute stops, like the tomato I needed last night for tacos. (Hell, it was 6:30 p.m. before I left work, so dinner had to be quick.)

I started roaming the aisles, slowly, in a get-to-know-you fashion.  At the very least, I was confused.  I grew up with certain brands, so I already knew which brands to trust (or distrust).  Betty Crocker, Kelloggs, Sara Lee.  I know Gorton’s isn’t good fish.  I know Banquet frozen dinners don’t even look like food.  (The first time I saw a ‘frozen dinner’ was when I babysat at 17 years old.  I had no idea what to do with that plate o’stuff.)

But Seeds of Change? Pacific Foods? Muir Glen Organics? 365?  What manner of names were these?!  But then I saw some old familiar friends, like Cheerios.  And look, there’s milk. And eggs.  I mean, milk is milk, right?  Eggs are eggs, yes?  No.

Apparently, Whole Food’s eggs are sumpin’ special at $3.99 for the lowest, and upwards of $6 for 12 eggs.  I think they’re cage free.  Matter of fact, I think they were laid on 800 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets.

But I want to get up at the break of dawn for yoga, wear dreads with ribbons strung thru my braids, wear tribal tattoo bands, toe rings, thumb rings, and smell like I am in tune with mother earth.  I want to eat only organic, wholesome food and think that tofu flan is a better dessert than french vanilla ice cream drizzled with Hershey’s syrup.

I want to accept nothing less than pure food.  But alas, I realize I cannot afford to consistently eat the better foods that Starbuck baristas and music store workers are so committed to.  I do not carry a Timbuktu messenger bag, nor have gauges in my ears.  I do not smugly ride my bike, or skateboard, everywhere for a minimal carbon footprint. I do not usually drink green liquids, unless it’s lemon-lime Kool-Aid.  How do they do it, with low wages and high principles?

To shop exclusively at Whole Foods takes a lot more than the desire to eat healthy.  It takes a whole lot of dollars.


3 thoughts on “Whole Dollars

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  1. This was so funny – I loved your description of the Whole Foods / Organic food movement. You are absolutely correct it does take a lot money to shop exclusively at WF, but organic is becoming more mainstream so you can find it at different places. The trick is also to only buy what’s on sale. To eat healthy and within a budget does mean shopping at multiple places. But, just think by eating healthy, you’re hopefully reducing your future medical expenses because you won’t have as many ailments.


    1. Thank you, Anji, for reading and ‘getting’ my truth sprinkled in humor. After I got home from my foray into the unknown, I talked to a friend who told me the same thing – buy what’s on sale. And never buy the eggs. I promise not to give up my hunt for affordable, healthy (and quick) dinner alternatives. Frosted Flakes be damned.


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