Wholier than thou

2014-03-19 17.40.45After opting out of the culture it has come to us anyway. We’re getting a Whole Foods. I am both overjoyed and rueful.

The younger daughter will be thrilled. She loves the health and beauty section. The older daughter enjoys the prepared foods and we might be able to find her flageolet beans at $20 an ounce.

This is a kid who in an interview for camp, where she is being assured there will be lots of food for picky eaters, asks, “Do you have vegetables?” (And this being America, the answer is yes, in the form of raw broccoli florets in the salad bar, like at school. Americans, as a people, see vegetables as something that are best liquified and disguised as fruit juice rather than something anyone would go out of their way to eat.) This is a kid who happily eats quinoa. We are very much part of the target market for Whole Foods.

2014-03-22 08.04.36What I am told is that when a big-time store like Whole Foods comes to a city like ours, they don’t ask what sites are available, they simply figure out where they want to be and the city makes the site available. They have chosen a location that means the end of a two-story office building I photographed about a year ago. A building with a name that is painted on the glass in gold, outlined in black. A building occupied by beauty parlors, but which suggests smokeDSCF5558-filledĀ  accounting offices, with heavy, teal-colored adding machines.

It is exactly the kind of building I am always looking for, part of the city that time forgot dreamscape, in a city that is waking up and throwing the covers to the floor. Meanwhile, the Bad Wal-Mart will abandon its site for a building that is going up as we speak, the Enormous Wal-Mart.

Last weekend, I went out to Earth Fare, because we needed yellow lentils to make a Nigel Slater recipe. You can use red lentils, which are not quite as hard to find, but the yellow ones provide the nutty earthiness, which can accordingly be found at Earth Fare, which compared to the supermarkets near us might as well be Portland. It is much like Whole Foods, but too long of a drive to do often. The coming Whole Foods will be very centrally located. I can refrain from Earth Fare, but the Whole Foods will be hard to avoid.

I buy rainbow carrots, a piece of French cheese and the most right-on milk I can find.

My husband asks me to pick up charcoal and has a really negative reaction to what I end up getting, which is some kind of green briquette that is made out of coconut shells. It never occurred to me that these might impart a coconut flavor but I end up googling it (they don’t). But he is still affronted by them.

Fine, I say, I’ll take them back.

No, he says, that is a waste of time to drive all the way out there, for what, $14?

$7, I say.

Well $14 was about the most ridiculous amount I could think of, expletive deleted, revisits concept of charcoal made out of coconut shells.

It’s no trouble, I say. I’ll have to go back to for the deposit on the milk bottle.


I revisit the doomed building. There are a few hair places that still look operational. I stalk around it, peering into windows. To my surprise, the building door is ajar. I go in. There is a man cleaning out his office and a silent, angry woman with him, who won’t speak to me, saying she is just a client. His office is two small rooms and just heaps of papers. He seems unsurprised by my presence. He has only been there a couple of years. There are two imitation paintings on the wall, flowers, a harbor, and a half-full two-liter bottle of off-brand soda. It’s an accountancy office but no teal adding machine, just hideous grey fluorescence and paper.

2014-03-22 08.14.16In the corridor window of another… business?, are some hand-lettered signs. This is one of them. Have these been written in light of the eviction or do they just reflect the irony that catches up with all of us at some point?

Farewell, building, with your punning hair salons, your sadness, your philosophers.

Whole Foods, our people, have found us. Aren’t you relieved to be rescued? We have six times as many legumes as the supermarket and we bring you locally sourced biltong. Have we arrived just in time? Or is it too late?

Tread softly, Whole Foods. Just leave out a basket of rainbow carrots, a sourdough baguette, ethical shampoo, a selection of artisanal cheeses, some lavender-infused chocolate and wait for me to come creeping back in.


4 Replies to “Wholier than thou”

  1. Too funny! It is not the potential for coconut
    Flavor but the loss of charcoal flavor that husband misses. Stand your ground Jim. No matter what the Wertis says.
    Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


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