Noe Valley Voice November 2009

Opinion: Epiphany at Whole Foods

Twenty-second Street resident George Dugan makes a juicy discovery on his first foray into the Whole Foods Market at 3950 24th Street.

Whole Foods--A Temptress in a Teapot

So I decided to do a commando recon op on the new Whole Foods, in preparation for boycotting the hell out of them for casting aspersions on the "public option" and effectively declaring their tea-bagger jihad on quiet Noe Valley.

Better to blend in, I thought, to pick up a handbasket. I found one up front, where you'd expect to in this cookie-cutter conclave of consumer indifference.

After I got past the feeling that I was somehow underdressed--even though the bourgeois shoppers filling their baskets with apathy and karmic distraction showed up in flip-flops and bed-head too--I snuck down one aisle after another, dodging wide-eyed consumer-zombies with webs of spittle strung between their gape-mouthed lips.

The technicolor earth tones of the produce section tried to infiltrate my peripheral vision, with the improbable promise of natural vitamin nutrition and minerals from vivid peppers, apples, and a medley of leafy greens--all too turgid, crisp, and blemish-free to be believed.

"Don't look, don't," I mumbled under my breath, like the mantras that I'd read in the pamphlet suggested.

The temptation was insidious when it wasn't diabolical, but I knew what would confirm my worst fears. The processed vegetarian products would be in the usual place: right by those hanging slices of gory lives-taken, cold-hearted cruelty, cleverly-labeled "cold cuts," so the sheeple won't realize they're eating somebody's baby, mother and father, sister and brother, and friends. Yes! animals have friends, damn it!

That's what the pamphlet said.

It said I should brace myself, so I did and darted down the far left aisle, where the beer used to be when this God-forsaken place was still just another cold, mom-and-pop-killing local chain awash in flickering florescent light, devoid of any life besides a gazillion industrially coerced super-germs colonizing radiated flesh wrapped in plastic.

Yeah, I'd been to Bell. It was a garish place, full of congealed corn syrup molded into any shape you can imagine before it's packaged in--I kid you not--boxes and plastic packages also made from industrial-processed corn mash.

It's in the pamphlet.

Fake plastic, people...that's the dangerous world in which we live. We can't even trust the danger anymore, but this place, masquerading as wholesomely organic health-interest and global awareness in place of the hues of cold gray self-interest that once monopolized the pantries, cabinets, and refrigerators of my hoity-toity neighborhood...but there it was!

And there I was, all too suddenly, standing stooped, in slack-jawed shock and awe at the effrontery of the processed vegetarian product section--not where I expected to find it at all. Back in the far left corner of the store, where the wine section used to be, where the $6 to $10 bottles were, to be precise, where now they stock...Gimme Lean!

OMG! They carry Gimme Lean! Fake ground beef and imitation sausage you can mold into breakfast patties or little, gnocchi-shaped dumplings that I love to fry in olive oil and put in just about everything I eat!

The pamphlet warned me about nothing like this.

Gawd, I thought, do they have Morningstar fake chicken nuggets in the frozen breakfast section? So I went to see if these tricky bastards dared to stock only the best soy-gluten nuggets I've ever had--outside of the Jasmine Tea House, of course (itself on the edge of Noe Valley at Mission and 29th).

As I stepped outside, feeling a little sheepish underneath the low fog of an October sky, with Noe Valley's dependable second spring about to arrive, my free hand fumbled with the pamphlet in the belly pocket of my worn-out, hemp-based, moss-green hoodie, and I wondered how I would explain it when I got home.

A free cup of coffee, just for shopping? That's ingenious! And to think, the guy actually talked me out of buying the expensive one.


--George Dugan