Whole Foods Worship

Michael Schulson wonders why educated liberals “get riled up about creationists and climate-change deniers, but lap up the quasi-religious snake oil at Whole Foods”:

At times, the Whole Foods selection slips from the pseudoscientific into the quasi-religious. It’s not just 12755775344_3b75e31f4e the Ezekiel 4:9 bread (its recipe drawn from the eponymous Bible verse), or Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, or Vitamineral Earth’s “Sacred Healing Food.” It’s also, at least for Jewish shoppers, the taboos thathave grown up around the company’s Organic Integrity effort, all of which sound eerily like kosher law. There’s a sign in the Durham store suggesting that shoppers bag their organic and conventional fruit separately – lest one rub off on the other – and grind their organic coffees at home – because the Whole Foods grinders process conventional coffee, too, and so might transfer some non-organic dust. “This slicer used for cutting both CONVENTIONAL and ORGANIC breads” warns a sign above the Durham location’s bread slicer. Synagogue kitchens are the only other places in which I’ve seen signs implying that level of food-separation purity.

Look, if homeopathic remedies make you feel better, take them. If the Paleo diet helps you eat fewer TV dinners, that’s great – even if the Paleo diet is probably premised more on The Flintstones than it is on any actual evidence about human evolutionary history. If non-organic crumbs bother you, avoid them. And there’s much to praise in Whole Foods’ commitment to sustainability and healthful foods. Still: a significant portion of what Whole Foods sells is based on simple pseudoscience. And sometimes that can spill over into outright anti-science (think What Doctors Don’t Tell You, or Whole Foods’ overblown GMO campaign, which could merit its own article).

(Photo by Flickr user Bookchen)