Being that it's an uber-successful, nationwide grocery chain many Americans swear by, there's no feeling bad for Whole Foods. But it is an easy target -- and one that's quickly becoming the punchline to jokes about #WhitePeopleProblems. Where do spoiled, self-obsessed, phony greenies shop? Whole Foods. Where do people go when they have "rich, white person problems" ... you know, like gluten intolerance or Candida overgrowth! I'd venture to guess heavy metal toxicity (from too much sushi, obvs), nut allergies, or lactose intolerance all fall under that category, too, right?
That seems to be the thought of comedian Kelly MacLean, who made quite the impression on the web this week with her HuffPo story "Surviving Whole Foods," making fun of the store she sees as "a microcosm of everything I hate about our new green culture." Uh huh ...
Next I see the gluten-free section filled with crackers and bread made from various wheat-substitutes such as cardboard and sawdust. I skip this aisle because I'm not rich enough to have dietary restrictions. Ever notice that you don't meet poor people with special diet needs? A gluten intolerant house cleaner? A cab driver with Candida? Candida is what I call a rich, white person problem. You know you've really made it in this world when you get Candida.
While I can laugh about greenwashing and phony-baloney Gwyneth Paltrow types who are on an obnoxiously expensive, restrictive cleanse every other week, this was the part that really galled me. If it's only rich people who discuss their dietary restrictions -- gluten intolerance, Candida overgrowth, nut allergies, etc. -- it's because they're the ones with access to health care that has helped lead them to that conclusion. There are TONS of lower-income people who have special dietary needs, but unfortunately, our system is so broken that they're living with them and far less vital than they could be. Or they're aware of them and cutting back in other parts of their budget so they can afford gluten-free, yeast-free, nut-free, dairy-free specialty foods.
Sure, MacLean was ripping Whole Foods and rich, gluten-challenged people in jest. But she also admitted there was some truth to her rant -- like the part about a Prius with a "Namaste" sticker almost hitting a pregnant woman. Sad. And I believe it ... Similarly, there are some spoiled, ridiculous people who frequent organic grocery stores and spend obscene amounts of money on self-diagnosed dietary restrictions. BUT they're not the only ones perusing aisles of gluten-free bread or vegan cheese or organic produce not doused in pesticides. There are also people who are there and spending whatever they can on whatever foods they can afford so they don't get sick or so they can heal their illness or so they can adhere to their ethical beliefs. Nah, that's not necessarily something we can giggle about and share on Facebook, but it's still something true and worth bearing in mind.
What was your take on MacLean's column?