3.22.2009

What If I Don't Want to Buy Organic?

When Whole Foods opened up in Roseville recently, I was overjoyed. For me, Whole Foods brought back fond memories of living in the Chicago area, and of finding new and exciting things to eat on my lunch break from Starbucks. Yeah, I know there is one in Sacramento, but I just never found myself taking the time to go. My husband and I decided to do our weekly grocery shopping trip at Whole Foods on week, and realized one thing: there is nothing there that is not organic.
Now, I don't have anything against organic food, or the people that try to eat a fully organic diet. If you want only non-GMO produce and crackers with only whole wheat flour and no high fructose corn syrup, more power to ya (not that I'm a fan of high fructose corn syrup. I feel like I'm having to explain myself a lot here. Hmmm.) I am just saying that I think organic milk tastes funky, and the organic yogurt sat uneaten in the back of my fridge for about three months, after I ate one and decided that a) I don't like stirring my yogurt and b) it tastes just as funky as organic milk. Also, what if I don't want my crackers to have flax seeds in them, and what if I want my tampons to have applicators? I'm aware that tampons are not food, but that was just one more grievance that I had after taking a look in the soup aisle and realizing that I wasn't going to be finding any soup for my lunch that was going to cost under $3.

For all my ranting, though, checking Whole Foods out is definitely worth it. The first time we walked into Whole Foods (not for groceries, but for the experience) was pretty neat. Their selection of cheese is amazing, even though some of it looked questionable. We were impressed by the fact that they roast their own coffee daily, and there is also an area where you can put together your own customized trail mix.

The best part happened in the bakery, though. We were standing by all of the desserts, and we must have been drooling because the guy behind the counter offerred us a sample of whatever we wanted, and a sizeable one, too.

I don't think that we will ever shop for our groceries at Whole Foods again, though. I think Safeway has found the right balance for organic shoppers, offereing a decent selection of organic foods with everyday items. Trips to Whole Foods will probably be reserved for getting free dessert samples and experimenting with different cheeses and wines.

4 comments:

Maxamillian said...
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James C. Wilson said...

While I definitely wouldn't shop at Whole Foods every day for groceries, I'm actually surprised you didn't like the organic milk or yogurt. Granted, not all of the suppliers have great product. There's a difference between say Strauss Farms and Horizon. Horizon does classify as "organic," but I wouldn't go so far as to say they actually are organic. Especially since most of their dairy cattle is fed grain. Strauss on the other hand is almost entirely grass fed, except in the winter when they graze on what little grass remains outside, but receive mostly hay in the winter. This leads to a more inconsistent product, but a much more enjoyable experience. At least from my perspective. I wasn't a big milk fan until discovering milk from grass fed dairy cows a couple years back. Now, I can't stop because there's just better depth to milk as a stand alone beverage and for use as an ingredient in cooking.

You do have to be careful with "organic" brands at any supermarket, as the labeled product may meet the legal standards for being "organic," but it may not meet the spirit of the term. That is, a company like Earthbound Farms may have "organic" lettuces and such available for purchase, which have not been grown with pesticides, etc. But the organic movement is more than that. It's also about sustainability and locale. And while people try to differentiate between the two now, when this green food movement was started in the Bay Area (Alice Waters & Co), it was about getting stuff from as close to you as possible that had the least touching by corporate battery farms (yes, Earthbound is still a battery farm).

If you're really looking towards green/organic produce, you're better off going to a Green/Farmer's Market and start building a rapport with any number of suppliers. It does mean you can't have certain things year round, but that just makes you look forward to them when they are in season and really enjoy them for that brief window they're available.

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