Whenever my boyfriend and I mention to some of our friends that we spend a ridiculous amount of time and money at our local Whole Foods, their jokey response usually involves the expression "Whole Paycheck." Yes, we get it, ha ha, it's pricey to buy organic. But now, the occasional teasing actually has my boyfriend feeling a bit concerned. He says maybe we shouldn't be dropping so much dough there? Maybe we'd be fine just going back to the regular grocery store? It's gotta cost less, right, and then, we wouldn't be those "obnoxious" people who only shop at Whole Foods. You know, the ones who drive dueling Priuses through the parking lot and get irritated in the quinoa aisle, as featured in the oh-so-clever viral "Whole Foods Rap" video.
But every time he campaigns to stop shopping there, I say, "Hell no!" (or something like that). Why? Because I'm PROUD to be the "kind of person" who shops there.
I only see the benefits in being the kind of person who opts for natural stevia over man-made Splenda or aspartame, who is leaning more toward veganism (although I confess, I won't give up fish!) every day, and who worries about pesticides on her fruits and veggies. Why should I be ashamed of the fact that I care if there's BPA lining my cans or rBST in my yogurt? Should I feel guilty for spending a little extra money, so I don't have to have endocrine-disrupting fluoride in my toothpaste or poisonous chemicals in my sunblock or facial moisturizer?
Some of the foods and products I can only buy at Whole Foods I buy because I have hormonal issues that I'm doing my best not to exacerbate with environmental toxins and my diet. But aside from that, I'm lucky that a lot of the reasons I shop at Whole Foods are personal choices (like skipping meat) and philosophies I believe, like "you are what you eat" and "food is medicine" blahblah. In other words, it's not actually a matter of life or death for me.
But for some people, like those who have celiac disease, it sure is! They have to eat gluten-free foods that only Whole Foods or similar stores carry, or else they run the risk of not only feeling like crap but getting cancer, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis. And what about people with a serious lactose intolerance or a severe nut allergy? At Whole Foods, you can actually find almond/soy/coconut/hemp milk or nut-free foods.
Although regular grocery stores are making progress and slowly but surely stocking some more natural, organic, allergy-friendly products, Whole Foods and similar natural health food stores are the only places most health-conscious or allergy-affected to find everything they want and need under one roof.
In short, falling under the category of "health-conscious" or "allergy-affected" doesn't make someone a snob or a pretentious jerk. It means you don't mind budgeting or scrimping on other things so you can spend on "smarter" groceries, which may actually help you save more money in health care costs down the road. It means you prioritize your well-being. There's absolutely no harm in that.
What do you think of people who shop at Whole Foods?
Image via Leon Brocard/Flickr