≡ Menu

Dear Whole Foods- We’re through. It’s not me. It’s you.

You know how it is, Whole. You know. And I know you know. We just can’t pretend it is what it was any longer.

Bad things have been happening between us whenever I’ve tried to get into your sack for quite some time. It’s time to face the fact that we just don’t have that old natural spark between us any longer. We’ve faded from organic to conventional. It’s time to move on to fresh fruits and vegetables new — elsewhere. Ditto your firm, moist, and alluring meats of many flavors. None of what you’re doing to me is doing it for me anymore.

I ignored a lot of your irritating habits, Whole — like keeping that entire wing of the dairy case jammed with your revoltingly raw vegan pastes and six flavors of tofu, that sloppy second of soy. I rationalized you were just trying to keep your green ass from getting so fat you couldn’t get into that tacky green apron you insist on wearing all the time, because “they go with my Earth shoes”.

I put up with your petulant insistence on “helping me” find things I wasn’t looking for whenever I paused in an aisle to ask myself “Johnson Grass and Brayla Suet Sausage? What the hell is that and what life form eats it?”

I put up with your plucking money from my wallet while I slept, so you could blow it on wind power and floats in the Green Pride Parades. I figured that every Whole needs a hobby.

Yes, I put up with your junkies’ greed as you whined for more and more…. especially in the cheese department where you had no shame in marking up English and French and “local, sustainable” cheeses first to $20 a pound (Or as you coyly say, “$19.99!”)…. and then up to $25 a pound… and then — since somebody was evidently paying you to screw them this hard — when you went whole hog and started into the $35 a pound range with no end to your cheese needs in sight.

Yes, I just looked the other way, Whole. I figured I could always just skulk around the deli counter cadging slices of salami and smidgens of cheese off your perky crew until they grew tired or I was full. But the feeling of being used by you — especially with the Euro cheeses which went up and up regardless of how heavily the Dollar was sitting on the face of the Euro — kept on pinching me in the pocket.

Even then I accepted your “Give More Green to Be More Green” smarm. Why?

Was it because your moist and juicy fruit always looked so tender, sweet, and tasty?

Was it because you always reminded me, in your organic, vegan, tofu-sodden shelves, of those unshaven but passionate hippie girls of my youth? The ones with the faint Frida Kahlo mustaches like the fuzz I once licked from your peaches.

Was it because I thought I was demonstrating my successful status by shopping at a grocery store whose motto might as well have been, “Whole Foods: Why Pay Less?”

Was it the frisson that compulsive gamblers feel as I watched a single paper bag of your goodies climb relentlessly over the last few years from $50 to $75 to over $100 with no sign that I was at least going to get a French kiss as a reward?

I even put up with your ceaseless whining about the friggin’ environment, being green and all, and your constant nudging about bringing my own bag to carry away your noodle soup, and your waxed cardboard containers for the salad bar that would always leak dressing onto my leather seats.

I suppose it was all of these things about you, building up slowly… and yet… and yet…

Whenever I’d leave you, after depositing a C-note or two in the register by the door, I’d think, “No more. No more. We can’t go on meeting like this.” But in a couple of weeks, my yearning for you would rise like the yearning I often have for a Korean massage. And I’d be back, slipping into your embrace, and always…. after scraping the detritus of my plate into the garbage a few hours later… I’d feel used. Even after a shower.

But today was it. That’s enough. We’re over. Finito. Kaput.

What was it? Like the end of all sordid love affairs, Whole, it was a little thing that did it.

There I was, after buying a slab of your succulent meat at a mere $28.99 a pound, adrift in your kitchen supplies aisle. I remembered that I needed aluminum foil. I scanned your bursting shelves and then I saw it… the “If You Care” Aluminum Foil. It was made, it breathlessly told me, of “100% recycled aluminum.”

The “If You Care” was a 50 foot roll of the silver stuff. It was priced at $4.50. Next to it sat your good old new aluminum foil. Yours was a 75 foot roll of the stuff I’ve faithfully used and recycled all these years. It was priced at $2.25.

It dawned on me then, Whole, that as it was with so many other things about you I was screwed no matter which I chose. Somehow, if I “cared” enough to spend $2.25 more for 25 feet less “If You Care” foil I’d just recycle that caring foil again so that it could come back for more caring at a higher price.

I could take it, Whole, when it was just you and me and a little extra expense for a small tickling moment of splendor in the wheat grass. But now you were sharing your shelves with the high-price whores of recycling and I knew that if I stayed with you a moment longer, I would turn green with bankruptcy.

That’s why I abandoned you and your succulent meat in your shopping cart on Aisle 5. That’s why I left that chunk of Neal’s Yard Cheshire at $32.99 moldering in your private collection.

Whole, I’ve given you some of the best, and certainly expensive, grocery purchases of my life. But we’re done now. Like all tawdry retail sluts tarted up with those French plum tarts near the cash registers, you’ve finally stepped over my food love line of death.

I’ve left, a shattered man, with whatever shreds of dignity and solvency remain. Don’t write. Don’t call. And especially don’t offer to take me back to that Devon Clotted Cream in Aisle 2 that we once smeared over our shortbreads together in that wild, hot Summer of 2006. We’re quits. Deal with it.

Hungrily yours,

P.S. If by any chance you want to dump that Neals Yard Cheshire cheese at fire sale prices when Washington refuses to bail you out… twitter me.



Gerard Van der Leun // 1692 Mangrove Ave Apt: 379

Chico, CA 95926

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • BillH April 18, 2018, 10:30 AM

    My wife, who having raised six kids on very limited food budgets early on, has been a practicing dietitian for 60+ years, and regularly checks out every food store opening in town, has said on several occasions that Whole Foods is a scam.

  • John A. Fleming April 18, 2018, 10:35 AM

    I don’t normally go into WF, it’s not on my usual convenient resupply route. However, they do have some foodstuffs that are really good for wilderness trips that I can’t find anywhere else (and REI can go pound sand). So I have to make the trudge over there, in the frantic last-minute dash about town picking up stuff before we head out.

    Seems like the libertarian dude that built up WF and cashed out to Bezos, did good for himself. He’s probably right now enjoying the well-deserved fruits of his labor at his manses in Jackson Hole and Aspen and other such tony spots.

  • Snakepit Kansas April 18, 2018, 10:42 AM

    Asparagus water. FFS.

  • pbird April 18, 2018, 10:44 AM

    If you could make money by selling asparagus water to fools, Snakepit, would you or wouldn’t you do it? I’m sure WF understands what they are doing.

  • MOTUS April 18, 2018, 10:56 AM

    I’m with you; even though their post-Apocalypse Amazon takeover resulted in price drops to make them more “competitive” – if your idea of competitive is takeout from the French Laundry. I can live without their baby Brussels Sprouts and 5-Step® Animal Welfare Rating meat.

    But those deliciously addictive Breton pastries, Kouign Amann, that literally melt in your mouth… for a mere $4 a pop! And I’ll bet I can get second day delivery on Prime…

  • Dan Patterson April 18, 2018, 11:15 AM

    Whole Foods shopper?
    Man card: Give it up.

  • ghostsniper April 18, 2018, 12:58 PM

    Never even seen a WF let alone go in one.
    No I wouldn’t, pbird – I have a conscience.

    People sure make a fuss over everything food.
    The other day I heard a younger dood tell someone he had went into “Big Woods” and bought their best plate with all the trimmings and paid +$40 for it. Really? I hope he enjoyed it. Around here the 2 of us can eat all week and most of the next for that kind of coin.

    It’s just food.

    • Denny August 5, 2022, 11:14 AM

      Ghost, Are you sure about the $40, all week + trimmings?
      When’s the last time you went shopping?

      • Mahtomedi August 5, 2022, 3:35 PM

        That comment is 4+ years old.

      • ghostsniper August 5, 2022, 5:13 PM

        It’s jumped up since that was written Denny.
        I haven’t figured it out but I’m guessing it’s maybe $50.
        I’m an expert at eating for less, but decent.
        There’s a art to it, took years to get to this point.

        • Denny August 5, 2022, 5:34 PM

          Sorry Ghost, I’ve got to remember to check out
          the dates on the posts.

        • Vanderleun August 5, 2022, 6:55 PM

          Just so you know, Ghost, your envelope arrived. Formidable! And thanks.

  • Old Surfer April 18, 2018, 5:25 PM

    Around here it was known as “Whole Paycheck” and has recently left town, apparently unable to compete with “Lazy Acres”, an even bigger and fancier store for the local foodie millionaires. $40/lbs Ahi and waigu beef just for starters, along with a variety of spring water from Fiji.

  • Mike Austin August 5, 2022, 8:47 AM

    I never got the attraction of the “Whole Foods” thing and all its knock-off wannabes. It seemed like a cult, along the lines of Vegans and Cross-Fitters—and you can find legions of those weirdos shopping there. And the entire “organic” movement is a scam right up there with recycling and “sustainable” this and “sustainable” that.

    I ventured forth into one of those progressive dens of “foodism” and found that, because I was an old guy with long hair on a bicycle, that I could pass for one of them. Not only that, but they considered me on “their side”. They had no idea that this old man with long hair on a bicycle would, if he could, send them all to the camps.

  • Hyland August 5, 2022, 9:03 AM

    Two words are all you need to never spend a nickel in Whole Foods ever again… Jeff… Bezos. The wonder boy from Albuquerque is building a super yacht so freaking huge that Rotterdam is going to have to dismantle an ancient bridge in their city to allow this behemoth to sail away. Carbon footprint, anyone? Same Jeff Bezos who was secretly syphoning 10 bucks a month out of my bank account because I purchased one book from him. FJB… forever.

    • John the River August 5, 2022, 3:26 PM

      Thunder rising so get this out before the next power failure…

      It might warm your heart to hear that the people of Rotterdam put a kibosh on Bezo’s plans. His “unfinished” yacht is slinking out of town to be finished elsewhere, the bridge is intact.

  • robert kendall August 5, 2022, 9:10 AM

    that is hilarious! I have to send it to friends in Santa Fe, where WF rules the land

  • Aggie August 5, 2022, 9:13 AM

    Last time I was in WholeFools, in Dallas, I asked where the Blue Bell ice cream was (‘The National Ice Cream of Texas’). The young stocker put his nose in the air, I kid you not, and informed me that WholeFools did not stock Blue Bell ice cream, because they use High Fructose Corn Syrup. I think he even sniffed a little, disdainfully.

    Anyway I think I said something to the effect that this was a stupid position for a retailer to take, that I considered myself fully grown and in charge of my own decision-making, then I moved on. I haven’t been back to one since, and in fact prefer Central Market, which is an H.E.B. offshoot with better selection.

    • Mike Anderson August 5, 2022, 1:45 PM

      We cheapskate frugal Texans only patronize the Central Markets for exotica, like Branston Pickle or a favorite brie, otherwise any big ol’ H-E-B will get ‘er done. My up North acquaintances* nearly swoon on their first encounter with the variety of a neighborhood H-E-B produce section.

      *Yuppie gringos the lot. Poblanos, mangos, jicama, andouille, boudin, and cilantro are not in their dietary palette.

      • Mike Seyle August 5, 2022, 2:54 PM

        That H-E-B in Temple needs a stop light everywhere: the entrances/exits, the crosswalks, the entrance to the store. Chaos. When I visit Temple, I prepare myself for the H-E-B visit to get a case of Shiners. Once I’m inside, it’s calmer, but not by much.

  • Pebo August 5, 2022, 9:56 AM

    Several years ago I was doing A/C work on that side of town where women of a certain economic status went to practice yoga in rooms heated to a minimum 110 degrees F. I did, though, venture out of curiosity across the street to the Whole Foods shebang to see what a $20.00 loaf of Artisinal Bread actually looked like only to also discover there on aisle 4 the largest assortment of homeopathic cure-alls known to mankind.

    • Mike Anderson August 5, 2022, 1:50 PM

      Amen, brother! As one of my wilder ex-girlfriends said “If all that organic stuff is so good for you, why do they also sell so damn many pills?”

  • LP August 5, 2022, 10:25 AM

    I might actually go there once if they have clotted cream. I’m curious.

  • pbird August 5, 2022, 1:44 PM

    I have never been inside one! Its just food as entertainment.
    Sounds like fun if one could afford it.

  • Ashby August 5, 2022, 1:52 PM

    Agree 100 percent! It is a strange, unWholesome place. Haven’t been in years.

  • captflee August 5, 2022, 2:12 PM

    Hmmmm…”faint Frida Kahlo mustaches”. Maybe it was the time I spent as a single man along the Gulf Coast, with the somewhat Mediterranean genetic admixture found there, but I’ve long harbored a certain fondness for those, finding that to be a fairly accurate predictor of a certain level of, erm, friskiness.

    For run of the mill staples I frequent yer urban “Foo’ Lion”, as much for the entertainment as for the prices, and am generally armed when doing so. Harris Teeter suffices where quality matters, though some years back I did darken the door of the local Whole Paycheck whilst seeking some rather obscure ingredient for a cheesecake.

    • Mike Austin August 6, 2022, 5:06 AM

      You are exactly correct in your description and appreciation of the “Mediterranean genetic strain” found in some women. I will not go into details, but they are indeed “frisky”. Enough said.

  • My two cents August 5, 2022, 3:32 PM

    My parents came of age during the Depression and lived through WW II while raising 4 (ultimately 5) kids. My mother’s Scot mother, on a farm, fed big haying (and other crews) a major homemade meal (with pies) at midday in the summers. No freezers then; she canned a lot of vegetables and fruits. My father’s father ran a grocery/general store in a small PA town; hard work. Stuff in barrels, and on high shelves, that the clerk had to get down. We visited in the summers, late 40’s and 50’s. No A.C., of course. Did he have a meat freezer room? Hard to imagine that he did, but he sold meat. He was an anxious sort. He urged us to “have some more” at the big homecooked midday meal; “you never know when you’ll eat again” (or words to that effect). I was the designated dishwasher (by hand, of course) in both grandmas’ kitchens, as I recall (being the one girl with 3 brothers). (I was also designated supper dishwasher for all(?) my years at home, most of which were without a (store-bought) dishwasher. My sister, born in 1954, never knew that world.

    I have been essentially on my own, financially and otherwise, since age 21. I have worked at whatever I could (for 50 cents an hour as a teen). I have raised four children; 3 of them have done, and are doing, well. We have always eaten balanced meals. I shopped and saved carefully. Today I have no worries about food or other necessities (although now the world may be entering a food crisis).

    All of this to say that I went into a Whole Foods in CA several years ago, wandered around with a friend, and very likely left empty-handed. Paying stupid prices, for me, triggers instant guilt and remorse. So I don’t do it.

  • John the River August 5, 2022, 3:36 PM

    Whole Foods earned the undying enmity of middle income neighborhoods in Chelsea, Sommerville and Weymouth when they bought out and replaced the beloved supermarket chain, “Johnnie Foodmaster”.
    Johnnie’s had nothing high-end, nothing crappy; just good food and products that the middle-class use every freaking day.
    The only time I’ve been in a WF is to troll for ‘free samples’. Covid killed that. I wonder if that particular America custom will ever return or will it become something like drive-in movies and cigarette vending machines we’ll try to explain to the younger generation, but fail.

    • captflee August 5, 2022, 6:12 PM

      Costco here in SE NC are back to slinging samples. They have to, though, it’s how they make more zombies, shuffling from aisle to aisle fo’ they nex’ fix.

  • Jim August 5, 2022, 6:02 PM

    another side to WF. On Maui, WF is filled to the brim with rich hippies. and yes, much of the stuff there is way over priced. But….
    Bread is 3.99 to 4..29 a loaf. local markets start at 7.00 per. loaf. Eggs, at WF, 3.99 to 4.29 for mainland eggs. local stores start at 6.00 to 12.00 a dozen. ground beef at WF is 4.99 to 5.99 LB of 90/10. local prices at least $2 more.
    Vegetables, like tomatoes, lettuce, are slightly cheaper than local stores, and much fresher.
    Flour tortillas, are 1 to 2 dollars cheaper at WF.
    the store is very busy, and has fresher produce, eggs etc than the local safeway.
    I was surprised the first time I went there. the things I buy more often are much much cheaper than at local markets, including Foodland and Safeway.
    Plus, I get 5% back each time, and that 5.99 ground beef is 4.99 with amazon prime card.
    At least here on Maui, WF is a better deal.

    • Vanderleun August 5, 2022, 6:57 PM

      I guess WF has resisted the ever-present native Hawaiian reparations tax scams.

    • John the River August 6, 2022, 7:24 AM

      We spent a lot of time on Maui and coming from the Boston area I never found the prices to that high. And my wife’s family knew how to find the non-tourist spots. Some of which were devoid of outside signage. Her family really liked spaghetti.

  • Dirk August 5, 2022, 6:26 PM

    We routinely stop for deli sandwiches or wraps at the Whole Foods market in Alturas Calif. by far the best deli sandwich between Klamath falls and Reno Nv. It’s that or Subway, which sucks.

    Frankly could care less wha names on the store, as long as I get a dammed near perfect sandwich!

  • Brio August 6, 2022, 4:45 AM

    I can open the back door of my apartment and see the Whole Foods sign a short block away. It is always packed which I expect in this college town which has two WF stores.

    When it opened a few years ago, I went on a Friday evening to check it out. It was a zoo. I don’t have anything to do on a Friday night but wondered why no one else had better things to do than grocery shopping. I walked every aisle to check out the selection and prices—nothing enticed me but the bakery goods.

    My landlord lives in another city and is envious that his tenants can walk to WF in about three minutes.

    The only thing I buy at WF is their panini loaf of bread. It is $1.99. The employee in the bakery department told me the breads aren’t even made there.

    I can live on bread alone, but WF bread isn’t as tasty as the baguette from H Mart about five miles away.

    I go to WF a lot but only for the bread and to pick up deliveries from Amazon—too many porch thefts for home delivery.

    I wouldn’t mind living in the apartments over WF but they are out of my price range.

  • AbigailAdams August 6, 2022, 10:53 AM

    You can make many cheeses at home.

    I’ve been in a Whole Foods once, I think. I’ve been in Trader Joe’s a half dozen times — for their licorice. I don’t like being around the people who shop in these places.

  • The Plutonium Kid August 6, 2022, 12:20 PM

    I was thinking about checking out Whole Foods to see what they had to offer. Thank you for saving me the trouble.