Last November around Thanksgiving I found myself in the Whole Body section of Whole Foods, wearing a beret I had crocheted by hand. The hat was supposed to be a present for my little sister for Christmas but it wasn’t Christmas yet and I thought I’d test it for fiber-poisoning, while covering my greasy unshowered hair. Who has time to shower when family’s in town? I also wanted to appear earthy while shopping at Whole Foods, like I’m not one to waste water… or soap.
“Now why was Kathryn in Whole Foods?” you might ask. If you guessed it had something to do with my good friend the homeopath, then you were correct. If you guessed it was because I like paying 10 dollars for a single apple, you were false or incorrect or something.
When I’m in there, I feel like a bit of a poser in Granolaville, like someone is going to stop me in the isle, point a judgmental finger and yell out, “THIS WOMAN EATS AT MCDONALDS. SHE SMELLS LIKE NON-ORGANIC BANANAS. STONE HER WITH HER OWN GRASS-FED GOAT CHEESE CURDS!”
I do occasionally eat fast food and sugar (referred to as The White Death by my naturopath) and food that has been processed by someone other than myself. I don’t recycle EVERYTHING and at least half of the lights in my house are not fluorescent energy star bulbs. I do not turn off the water while I’m lathering in the shower. My kids think Nuggets are a food group. I wear yoga pants but I’ve never actually done yoga. Raw milk scares me. I don’t weave my own cloth to make diapers. Sometimes I shop at the mall.
For these and other reasons, I’ve always felt like a bit of an imposter when I’m shopping at Whole Foods.
But lately I’m getting more comfortable there. I’ve been cooking more healthful whole foods, items that I can picture living and growing in nature. Who’s ever heard of a Dorito tree or a free range Slim Jim? I’m trying to think about the food I’m eating, where it comes from and what’s in it.
My neighbor’s been a huge influence on me. Because I respect her so much, I’ve opened myself up to thinking more about the choices I make every day and I’ve started to realize that I’m putting things into my body that do nothing to help it and can even be harming me and my family.
We’ve also been seeing a naturopath and after 12 rounds of antibiotics for Laylee for previous ear infections, we were finally able to manage one without drugs. We did it with herbs, dietary changes and home remedies and she got better quickly.
I didn’t set out to be some kind of raging homeopath or all natural woman wandering through Whole Foods dressed in a hemp muumuu but things are just starting to make sense and I love feeling like I have a little more of an active role in my family’s health.
My current goal is to find ways to feed us well without breaking the bank. We’ve found a lot of great deals on whole organic foods at Costco and the bulk and health food sections of our local grocery store and I hope to join a local farm co-op this summer. I’d appreciate any tips you have to offer. Organic is not the most important thing to me and it’s honestly not financially realistic for our family but as we incorporate more whole grains, fruits and vegetables our health is improving.
I also believe that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Every good choice we make benefits us and we just keep learning more and doing better. That alone should qualify me to walk into any grocery store with my head held high. I may have stopped at McDonald’s for lunch on my way to Whole Foods but dadgumit, I ate peaches and millet for breakfast.
Good for you!
I have sticker shock every time I go into our new Whole Foods. After this week’s menu, though, I’m going to do a week’s food shopping there and see how much more it will cost us for a true week’s food.
Welcome to the club! We here in Granolaville aren’t so scary and we love to welcome new people in! 🙂 I mean, really, when we out-live everyone, it’s going to get lonely. So the more people to share the earth after everyone dies from eating Burger King the better!!
Welcome to the club. I think that what you are doing is great! It just takes a little courage, and compromise. We spend more on food that is goos for us and spend less on going out. That doesn’t mean we don’t go out anymore, it just means that we don’t so it as often and are a bit choosier when we do go out. For me, I just do my best. The best way for me not to break the bank is to cook less meat. We only eat meat once a week, and if there are leftovers from that, then a couple more times as leftovers. Here is a great vegetarian website. It has a little bit of everything. This is my favorite recipe website ever! vegweb.com. If you want some of my favorites let me know and I’ll email them to you. I’m not saying you have to cut back that far, but if you only eat meat 3-4 times a week you’ll be saving money. Buying bulk is good to. Try to eat locally, food grown near you, it is more important than organic. Organic isn’t as organic as you think. Be careful at Walmart, I don’t shop there at all, they tend to be a bit deceiving in their marketing. Dry beans are easy to cook, you just need to know how to do it. Use the fast cook method on the back of the bag but add a 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to the water and beans during the first boiling. It really helps to soften the beans. rinse well and cook again. the cooking time will be less so check them more often. you can freeze them for convenience and use the bean water when freezing. They thaw pretty quick. Anther thing I do is make a menu for a month. Then I use it every month. I will re-evaluate it when the spring comes. Then I can just look at it and kn ow what we are having. I have a shopping I put all my recipes together in a binder in order. Then everything is all set and I can work it out through the budget. There are easy ways to make bread by hand. I like this one http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=5716.0 for loaves I cook at 375 ,I think, for about 35 minutes. You can even use 1/2 wheat. Making bread can save you money. Well I guess that’s all for know, I have kids fighting, oh how I love school break. Email me and we’ll chat.
The thing about Whole Foods is that you don’t have to be a hippy to shop there. I love Whole Foods, and not because I am a hippy, and not because I do all of my shopping there. Whole Foods helped save my life. How you ask? Well, most foods make me really, really sick right now and Whole Foods is who carries items free of the things that make me so sick. I am a realist and I have a budget and so I only buy the necessary items there. I now know what all the chemicals are in my foods and why they make me sick, but it’s dizzying for the average consumer to know that much about their food. So the general rule is, stick to buying foods that have six ingredients or less on them and buy and cook fresh whenever you can. If you can buy your fruits/veg from local farmers or grow your own, even better. Eating healthy shouldn’t be a big production or headache. I learned the hard way that that cooking from scratch (I mean all the way scratch) is equal the effort of cooking from a box or can. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Good luck. (PS – I have a gazillion recipes posted on my blog that are usually easy and healthy, and ALWAYS yummy — I’m known for it really).
I don’t really see Whole Foods as a hippy Granolaville place because it’s so… corporate and clean. It’s more the upscale-high-income-dsigner-label grocery store to me. For good granola-crunchy, I like the Farmers Market, when it’s in season.
My rule for Whole Foods is, “ingredients only!”. I can afford to get, say, a piece of fish from the fish counter, but not the pre-made, ready-to-eat Salmon Dinner from the hot foods section. I can get plain fruits and veggies, but not the salad bar. Otherwise, it costs more than I can pay! I’m totally with you on the natural foods thing, though. I’ve made a big effort to incorporate more veggies and things into my diet– originally to help with getting pregnant/staying pregnant, but I’ve noticed a lot of other advantages as well.
I haven’t seen the hemp muumuu dressed women in Whole Foods (and I live in Austin, the birthpace of Whole Foods) but really I don’t go there much anymore. Too pricey. For organic veggies, why not start a garden? Kids love gardening! And, you could try to cultivate some of medicinal herbs, too. We can talk about starting a compost pile another time…
Thorny Tree Lady says
The #1 reason to shop at Whole Foods in Seattle? It’s the only place in the United States to buy Blue Gouda cheese. It’s the only gouda based bleu cheese, and the only bleu made in Holland. Ate it by the wheel when I lived in Holland. Really. Go get it. You’ll thank me.
One of the things that we’ve started doing is sprouting our wheat! It’s so yummy in salads… also, I like to cook up wheat berries. Then I can throw them in anything… tacos, lasagna, soups… and the kids don’t seem to notice! Simple things, but it’s a good way to use food storage too!
We have to shop at health food stores at lot because of The Baby’s celiac disease and whenever I’m in one, I pretty much have to lay down on the floor and hyperventalate because of the prices.
“Smells like non-organic bananas” – hahahaha.
The Wiz says
That many ear infections sounds like it could be a food allergy that’s causing reflux that’s causing the ear pain.
Poor Laylee – glad you found something that works.
You will probably outlive me by a long shot (as I drink my Dr. Pepper).
How disturbed should I be that I’m reading this post while scarfing a double cheeseburger with fries from MickeyD’s? (But in all actuality, I’m only eating it because my homemade lunch – cajun rice- is sitting on my counter at home, where I accidently left it when I headed out to work. I’d rather be eating the cajun rice, thankyouverymuch.)
Seriously, I like the idea of eating better via organically grown food, but I also like the idea of having extras in life, like water, electricity and the occasional fun time having money to pay for my ever-growing kids. I can’t afford to do both.
So in the spring and summer, we hit farmer markets while we can and try to eat more fruits and vegetables when they’re in season. It’s little, but it’s something to do that will help our bodies.
Emily C says
I’m munching on Girl Scout ice cream myself.
Raw milk? The bomb. TASTES FANTASTIC. Providing it’s from a reputable source.
“The white death.” I like that. My husband grew up in a house NEVER SEEING WHITE FLOUR OR WHITE SUGAR. His whole life.
They make cookies once a year, using wheat flour and honey.
I’m with you. I shop at Trader Joe’s for most things, then Fred Meyer for what I can’t find there (we live in SW Seattle), but TWICE I have pulled into TJ’s with my toddler eating McD’s chicken nuggets and I was definitely embarrassed! I totally agree with you that it isn’t an all or nothing thing and I’m hoping that the amount of whole and organic food will increase and there will be less and less of the filler foods.
I love Trader Joe’s because the prices are so good! Some things are expensive, but it all seems to balance out because of good values on things like dairy products.
I also sometimes visit PCC, but the prices seem a lot higher. My husband (a chef) spends a lot of time at Whole Foods, but I got burned there once by a $5 apple, so I’m a little wary.
Anyway, I’m inspired by all you are doing for your family – kudos! I am lazy about our nutrition much of the time and I’m sure that you are sacrificing the desire to do whatever is the easiest (or is that just me?) and taking a little bit of a financial hit to do what is best for your family.
Off-topic, as usual: fluorescent bulbs seem a little out-of-place with young children around, given the mercury content. It’s hard to figure out if there’s enough to cause a problem. It seems that once environmentalists manage to get government and the media involved in something, it’s no longer possible to ascertain the truth. Yes, they save energy, but is there enough mercury to cause problems if one should break? Who can tell. It may be OK, given that I used to play with mercury when I was young and it didn’t affect me at all. Other than that third eye in the middle of my forehead…
Alli ~Mrs. Fussypants says
I’m with Pops on the light bulbs. Seriously if they break, people have been told to call the local rep for the EPA!
Also, I’m a Whole Foods Poser myself.
I love the visual of a free range slim jim. Brilliant, as usual.
I’m adding a ‘Natural/Green” Contributer to Blissfully Domestic. I think we all could use a good dose of Whole Foods Posin’! 😉
Love to ya!
i love trader joe’s and the farmer’s market. i have the same attitude of trying to buy things that are healthy and whole for my family, but i won’t spend much more for organic. we are planting a garden this year, which will help, and since december i’ve made all of our bread (i dabbled in bread before, but never made it often enough to not buy it in the store. ) it’s kind of fun to see how healthy we can be without spending more. and it’s easy to save money if you stop buying chips and goldfish crackers:)
With all the allergies in our family, I spend far too much time cruising the isles of Whole Foods (or sending dh with a list). It’s grown on me–may have to make one of those hemp moomoos. I bet it would still fit after I gorge myself on a hot dog and Rhodes 60 second cinnamon roll or a few. *ahem*
anyway, to save money, go more for the local than the organic. I mean, seriously, if it had to come from a bazillion miles away, didn’t that kinda defeat the purpose of buying organic in the first place?
So, find a few farms or people who have land. Just drive around the countryside and you’ll see dozens of signs advertising eggs, chickens, veggies, fruits, whathaveyou. I sometimes take the kids out to do U-pick in the summer. We brought home 120# of fresh, ripe peaches for $70. Yup, we had a canning/freezing/drying party with some friends from the ward.
The garden is a great way to save $$. Even putting some plants in old containers works great. I shoved 2 tomato plants in an orange Homer bucket from Home Despot and they were happy as clams.
And Michal is right–passing on the processed food with automatically save you money. As Michael Pollan pointed out in his new book, chips with a health claim are still junk food.
Kimberly (sassy piggy) says
Good girl. I try to do little things…it’s tough in a small rural town in the winter (I’m a bona fide city chick). But in the summer we eat fresh foods daily and all our produce comes from the local farmer’s market. I even, (gasp) learned to preserve said produce on my own! limit our Wendy’s Dollar Menu meals (but really, there are just some days when fries and diet coke are the only way to get through!) We’ve just survived a second ear infection for my 17 month old. Tell me about your naturopath recommendations for Laylee! Please!
Whole Foods Poser! That’s great. I’m one ,too. But you know what? By your criteria,mainstream as it is, I think WF is FULL of posers.
It’s interesting to look around at other customers and realize that we all may have such different, even incompatible, goals for being there and selecting the products we do. For some, it’s the just the closest store (God bless them and their strained wallets). Others are there getting products for a special diet, like gluten/casein-free. Others are seeking organics. For still others, “buy local”, “be environmentally conscientious”, “eat raw” or “buy fairly traded products” is the goal. Some are scanning ingredient lists to avoid A, or to avoid B, C and D, or to FIND special ingredient X. Everyone on a mission.
Anyway, you eat quinoa AND know how to pronounce it. Hold your head high. You’re not a poser! Small steps, with occasional slides backwards, that’s my goal.
Haha! The first time we went into Whole Foods, my husband told them they didn’t have to bag our stuff because the cashier had just breated the previous customer for not having cloth bags! Haha!
We are also trying to “switch”. I don’t need everything organic, but I do want to be choosy about what we’re doing to our bodies. I am interested to read your comments and see what people have said!
Asia Snow says
After all the fields required to fill in above, I’ve not only forgotten about the content of your ever-so-intriguing post, but I’ve forgotten my clever response as wellïŠ
Thank you for your entertaining, absolutely delightful depiction of an everyday scene that I have felt before. Now I know what words to use to express my uneasy feelings in such a circumstance (Imposter!).
Being a sibling who drinks self-juiced carrots and onions for fun and won’t use silverware (only plasticware) and will only drink water that has a specific title of processing attached, I am a bit wary of health food kicks. However, in my own moderate way, I’m choosing better foods. In the last two years we have started making less hamburger helper meals and more meals focusing on wheat and fruits and veggies. I just bought $100 worth of red wheat that I will grind (as soon as I get a wheat grinder) and make home made bread. For now, I make homemade white bread with Liquid Lethicin in it which is supposed to be healthy or why would it only be sold in granola stores?
Pam in Utah says
“Every good choice we make benefits us and we just keep learning more and doing better. Good thought! Hey, if you get a chance, want to know what you did for Laylee’s ear infections. 🙂 Love ya!