Healthy Foodie Fiasco

I love going into health food stores.
I love going into health food stores because just walking around in one makes me more healthy. That’s how it works, right? Inhaling the air and atmosphere of health food stores is bound to improve my overall health. I walk out a little taller, a little paler and delightfully crunchy.

Now that you know that I love going into health food stores, I need to be honest: I love going into health food stores ALONE.
On Saturday, we took the family into the city to bulk shop for toilet paper (and other essentials worth trading for valuables: chocolate, for instance) before the big storm hit. We like to make sure we’re prepared. Also, there’s a Pita Jungle in the city. I like to be full as much as I like to be prepared.
Pita Jungle is like a health food store in that all I have to do is INHALE and I’m healthier. Everyone who works there is healthy. Everyone who eats there is healthy. Danny and I spent about 15 minutes trying NOT to look at the tanned calves of a man wearing 5″ long shorts in 5 degree weather. We failed. Calf envy is no respecter of persons.
NOTE: “tanned calves” in Pita Jungle are WAY WAY different than the tanned calves I grew up around. Moo.

Whole Foods is conveniently located next door to Pita Jungle, and after we’d sort of filled our bellies and felt pretty healthy albeit ashamed of our white calves, we took a brave stroll into the health food store to look around.
With all of my health issues and chronic stomach pain and inflammation, I’ve been spending more time in health food stores and in the health food section on Amazon.
“Let’s go walk around and get a feel for the layout of the store,” I suggested. Danny went along with it because he’s my best mate.

The first thing you see when you walk in is SUPERIOR PRODUCE, and they put red produce next to green and yellow produce, and everything looks shiny and tempting.
Red carrots?! I felt a sudden need to own them, just because. There were tiny potatoes and leeks!

Behind all of the produce, we found milk. MILK IN BOTTLES. ORGANIC. There was kefir, all manner of kefir! And yogurt! My brain started racing at all of the options. I finally have to turn away and run straight into a kindly, pale woman offering samples of vegan tamales.
What is this world?
There is a gluten-free option for everything, and the kids I get lost in homemade soaps that smell like the woods and honey and lavender and also old ladies and musk. The kids almost knock the display over, but we recover just in time.
We finally have to turn away and run straight into a kindly, pale woman offering samples of green smoothies.
The kids inhale them and I take a sip.
That taste. I lick my lips. It’s familiar. What is it? I like it, what IS it?
Suddenly it hits me: The Feed Store. It tastes the way The Feed Store smells… The one where TANNED CALVES are of the MOO variety, the one where I’ve made many happy memories with my father, the one where I play with baby chicks and buy baby plants and admire the saddles and rakes and piles of alfalfa bales.
The children want to buy the mix to make the drinks, but I know I can just take them to The Feed Store and let them inhale the air… it’s cheaper and tastes better, more authentic.

My eyes run all over the supplements, and my mind can’t digest everything happening to me.
So many vitamins. So many minerals. So many supplements. So many powders and oils and pairs of sweat pants hanging next to them, begging me to work out with them.

Just before my brain explodes, I find them.
In a tiny, tucked away corner there’s probiotics. PROBIOTICS. Shouldn’t they be AT THE FRONT?! WITH A SIGN?!
Like, “Hey, we have store filled with treasures that will not stick to your system if your guts are screwed up which they probably are unless your mother is crunchy… so buy some of us, take us home and swallow us whole. After a month, come back with happy guts and let us fill your body with what you need.”

I look for a good probiotic, and my mind again begins to heat up. Seriously, one more spark and the whole thing will go BANG.
Probiotics for health! Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Kids’ Health, Calves’ Health. Danny picks up probiotics for prostates, and I remember that one month in 1994 when I read an article in the Reader’s Digest about Prostate Cancer and was racked with horror over the fact that I had FOUR OF THE FIVE SYMPTOMS. I had no idea how to tell my parents.
They’d be devastated, and I couldn’t handle the pain of being The Person Responsible for Causing My Parent’s Devastation.

Shouldn’t there be “Start Here” aisle in Health Food stores?
When I land on a new blog written by a stranger, there’s always a handy “START HERE” tab I can click on for direction. There’s directions in the furniture I buy.
And I will say that it is not a little bit disturbing that there’s maps to make my way around most cemeteries BUT NO MAP FOR THE HEALTH FOOD STORE.

We pick up two small bags of dehydrated fruit and make our way to the check out line where Alice tried to steal a healthy caramel.
We feel pretty holy, walking out of Whole Foods. After inhaling the air, our posture is decidedly better. We check our calves and decide there is marked improvement.

Two hours later, I’m standing in the check out line at Sam’s Club.
Two hours in a warehouse.
That means all of the healthy, holy air has circulated OUT of me and into The Building That I Swear Houses 3 Zip Codes.
My lungs are filled to capacity with consumerism at this point, and my calves are smaller. Paler.

The woman in front of me has at least $300 of food… and I long for it.
Pre-made dinners and corn dogs and packaged stuff to put in lunches. It all added up to about 4 hours more free time than I’d have with my gluten-less purchases.
I sneer at my carrots. Stupid, red-less carrots.
I sneer at my rotisserie chicken. Stupid, corn dog-less chicken.

I try practicing gratitude to pull my out of sneer mode.
“I’m grateful for the food we have, the family we have to eat it, the family who gets to learn about cooking because I *get* to prepare all of the meals instead of sticking them directly into the oven…”
My Gratitude Game is slipping, so I re-center.
“I’m grateful for Danny’s job that helps pay for the food and my job that helps fill the gaps and gives us enough to buy magic honey at the health food store.”
Suddenly the honey in my cart looks dumb.
Suddenly I feel like the milk in my cart is poison because it isn’t hanging out in a glass bottle and it has horrormones in it.
Suddenly, quite suddenly… I realize: I hate going into health food stores.



  1. I hate Whole Foods. The prices are absurd and the people who shop there are gaunt and angry. And who hate children, and I think that’s the biggest problem. I always go in with my children and get dagger-eyes from the gaunt people. Hence, Trader Joe’s! Where I can feel like I’m making virtuous food choices without having to (wanting to?) sell off my children!

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