We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Tuesday, June 12. 2007
I happen to be one of the few people who dislike going to Whole Foods (except for their cheese department), but they will, no doubt, have an impact on Brit marketing of food. Samizdata. Brit marketing is like American marketing in the 1930s, from what I have seen.
America takes the art and science of Marketing very seriously. Americans can sell anything, from Snake Oil to Windows software to Ford automobiles to Global Warming Hysteria. America creates and invents like crazy, but our ace in the hole is our sales and marketing genius. What good is an idea if you can't sell it?
Whole Foods, like the A&P's Food Emporium years ago, is all about Upscale Marketing: you take a little Balducci's, a little Food Emporium, plus a little Yuppie Health Food Store ethos to make the customers feel like they are eating wholesome stuff and therefore their precious selves will stay young and live forever - and stir.
"Organic" is the "New! Improved!" of our era.
The art of retail sales, I have been told by master salespeople, is all about appealing to people's narcissism - and never letting them admit that they have been "sold". "Let them feel good about themselves for choosing our stuff."
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Whole Foods is overpriced but their free samples and loss leaders are okay. One of the appealing things about it is that you don't have to trek thru miles of aisles full of truly awful junk food. Plus the organic vegetables do taste better. I have done blind taste tests with my kids. In summer, I grow my own and go to Farmer's Markets, but in winter I resign myself to overpriced stuff there. Sometimes I would rather have less selection but more appealing stuff overall.
Plus, when I go to the GIGANTO super cheap chain grocery story near me, it takes three times as long to find what I need, and I don't bump into any of my friends, just illegals. I kid you not, for an exhausted working mommy, it helps if the grocery store provides a lift to one's spirits, and is attractive enough to entice one's friends there. SO you get the chutney and veggies, see a friend, and get inspired to try some new eggplant dish...
On balance, however, I prefer Trader Joe's. They are tiny, so you can get your shopping done in 15 or 20 minutes with a couple of things to taste, and almost everything you need. They are reasonably priced and pretty decent tasting stuff. And you can always find something new and different to make supper more interesting. THe staff are SO nice and helpful, often unemployed neighbors (Yeah, Maggie's Farm, HBS and you end up bagging groceries, all part of the constant escalator up and down in American society) or friends' kids, and you have fun there.
Grocery shopping, like hunting, is about a process as much as the obviously desirable end result: cheap, nutritious food...Having said that, 90% of the time, I just go for the cheapest available, and grit my teeth at Shoprite. Nasty store, but easy on the wallet...
Good evals R. I agree about Trader's. Though the thing that bothers me about shopping there, at least in my city, is a certain air of snobbishness. Almost like you have to be wearing the correct political T-shirts, or certain length hair, or appropriate tattoes... probably just me.
Hey, LM, just ignore them. They probably all envy you for things you are oblivious to, or take for granted...I take a perverse pleasure in observing the contents of particularly faddish shoppers and speculating about their secret eating habits. For example, the wraith-like female ahead of me one day with macrobiotic crud piled high and several incongruous containers of chocolate covered fruit and cookies: pegged her bulimic. When she is not posturing about vegan diet and hemp clothes and no leather...I look at her with a momentary pang over my lost youth, looks and figure, then embrace my adorable, smart, conservative and practically perfect in every way middle kid and je ne regrette rien!
Costco is another place I shop a lot, but need to bring a kid with me to whack me if I go for too many impulse buys ("Mom, do you really need another large text Spanish Bible??
Get away from the Cheesecake! No, we do not need an ice cream maker!"). But, like the cheap grocery chains, it takes so long to get around. I am glad of the exercise on a rainy weekend, but those concrete floors aren't great. Also, their fruits and vegetables aren't properly refrigerated, and often rot in a day or two, so the vast quantities can't be used. But at my church, which has a high concentration of very frugal mommies, there is often much laughter as several of us show up at coffee hour in the same cheap Costco sweater/tshirt, whatever. And the price of their glasses can't be beat. Costco is fun because you never know what amazing bargain you will find. Also, with the exception of the fruits and vegetables spoiling, I have never been disappointed with any purchase from there. Good middle of the road stuff. Not the very latest of anything, but solid. Saves me hours of shopping for the best buy on certain things when I am in a hurry. You can get better prices from the supermarket loss leaders, but only if you hit the store on the right week.
And at Costco, I feel slim as a gazelle compared to the majority of the customers...All those chocolate muffins settling...
Whole Foods is not overpriced – this is assertion is laughable. The reality is that for comparable products Whole Foods offers the lowest prices – check for yourself instead of expressing an uninformed opinion based on perception and/or what you’ve heard. The company also offers the highest quality and greatest variety of product in the market. It is truly a remarkable company with an unmatched commitment to its customers, the environment, and employees.
What I hate about Whole Foods is having to battle the enormous crowds at my local stores. I surely do wish all the people who "hate them" would shop somewhere else. That might thin the crowded aisles a tad!
HA, great R. If not a book in your future, perhaps reviews :-)
Yes, I do the same things at Trader's. Evaluate the shoppers that is. Though my "middle kid" is long gone. Lot's of 'adolescent' left though.
I look upon Costco as cheap (though its never) entertainment. Usually $200 minimum a trip. Yes, that is expensive entertainment. But we normally buy stuff we can use.
But they have figured out the 'man' price point on tools. 19.95 gets me nearly every time. The 'female' price point is somewhat similar I think. We could store the Chinese army's kit in our 'storage' containers.
I love seeing 'capitalism' at work.
Just now saw your assertion in preview, Robert.
I do compare prices, at times, though I don't always. I would still agree that "Whole Foods" is overpriced. Rather sad that you come in here and accuse folks of being "uninformed". You almost sound like a stockholder.
What junk food, Retriever? I could do a line of those little white Hostess donuts right now. Soo good with a cold Coke. Yum. And don't give me any home-on-the-range chicken that's been eating bugs and scorpions. I want only those fat ones that have worn pink contacts to avoid pecking so they're happy and content boids.
Okay. I'm not into organic at all. I confess.
I've been grocery shopping three times this year. Usually, I get my kids to go or my ex will go. I so hate it I haven't the words to describe the experience. I can't stand seeing someone I know because you have to talk, and then you see them in the next aisle, so you skip an aisle and on and on. I pick mid-morning on Wednesdays. It's very quiet then and I don't worry about seeing anyone. I always have a great list that I leave it in the car. Always. I should pin it to my shirt.
I have no use for snotty salespeople. A friend of mine and I, dressed in jeans, went to Tyson's Corner and happened to see a jewelry counter right at the huge open doors of the ritzy Garfinkles. We walked in and a very smartly dressed woman ditzed around and finally deigned to ask if we wanted anything. My friend wanted to see a ring and then another one, and the woman let out an audible sigh of 'such peasants'..... She was so rude to my friend that I got mad and said very quietly: "Lady, if you had the right to be so rude, you'd be on this side of the counter."
Then I pulled out a pen and piece of paper and slowly and deliberately wrote her name down - glancing several times at her breast to get it right. Stupid woman. Just ask for their names...... it changes the whole dynamic.
Must qualify that: I live in horse country where someone with horse poop on their shoes could be worth thirty million dollars. In other words, what you look like is no indicator of anything.
Darn, I could really go for a giant chocolate muffin. :) Maybe two.......... I need to gain a little weight.
Ahh, the "Mink and Manure" set.
I don't mind Whole Foods, I just don't like the marketing angle. Too much of an angle. Robert sounds like a PR guy, but he well might be right about prices and employees. I have no idea. I have never looked at a price in a supermarket, nor have I ever spent more than 15 minutes in one. I zoom through like a rocket and get the heck out.
Robert, do you work there or something? Just because a place is overpriced, doesn't mean it isn't worth going there....Healthy food is worth paying somewhat more money for. In general, I go there and check the prices frequently, and buy things when they are cheaper than they are anywhere else.
A store is not a church or a family that you have to be loyal to. Is that uninformed? I keep price books of everything I typically buy, so I know what I am talking about. Overall,I like Whole Foods' stuff, and consider it good guality. But I can get many items (apart from the Whole Foods 365 brand which is reasonable) such as Arrowhead mills and others far cheaper at local supermarkets.
I actually have big problems with all their hype about the environment given that they ship the vast majority of their produce thousands of miles to the market near me. How good is an organic strawberry grown in a foreign country with dubious sanitation standards and shipped thousands of miles? The nutrition of foods that spend too long in shipping is diminished. My personal preference is for local food, and I mostly eat seasonally. I gladly pay more money to buy directly from local farms and support family businesses rather than Agribusiness. I will not buy any food products imported from other countries, and I buy only organic produce. I do not buy instant meals, prepackaged mixes or convenience foods. A store like Whole Foods probably makes no money off me. My friends and I may enjoy the ambience of a given store, but we will compare prices on everything.
Call that uninformed, if you like. I call it careful shopping, and stewardship of my family's resources.
Hi, Phoenix! I don't mean to sound Organic Holier than Thou...Like everyone, our family is inconsistent. We bake better goodies at home than we can buy at Costco...Sugar and fat make you happy and fat whether they are organic or conventional!
Love the story about the jewellry counter. When my parents were newlyweds, Dad was in the Navy and they were living on about 90 a month or some such pittance. Mummy used to go into Neiman Marcus and spend an afternoon trying on evening gowns with a befuddled salesperson sure she was an eccentric Boston millionaire. Then she would say "OOOOH! Have to consult with my dear husband, and see which one he thinks I should get!" then whisk away, trying not to laugh....
Now I am hungry thinking of junk food. Could really go for one of those COstco bags of Lindt truffles (2 pounds or some such) that the kids would be all over me for...
Wish I needed to gain weight. The kids and I all love to cook, and it shows...we eat as if we were off to plough the back 40 in the afternoon, then head back to our computers. Tho middle kid and I are seriously working out even more than usual, and trying to motivate youngest one, the one assimilated to the Borg.
To Luther and retriever
I am neither a shareholder or an employee. The company often offers a wide selection of wide selection within a given product category, which I believe is the source of your confusion. And within a product category, there is a range in prices. But the fact is that on a like-for-like basis Whole Foods offers the lowest prices or at worst comparable prices. In the case of 365 -- the prices are almost always the cheapest in the market...whether you like the product or not is obviously a personal decision.
As for the assertion that "they ship the vast majority of their produce thousands of miles to the market near me" -- go check again and come back to me...this is clearly an uninformed statement. Some products can only be grown in certain regions of the world or are clearly the highest quality in a certain region and in some cases WF will supply these products because customers want them. But when there is a sufficient local supply, Whole Foods sources locally -- just take a stroll through the store.
No desire to offend. Whole Foods is truly a rare force for good in our society and, as a result, I believe such entities should be supported not torn down. You may still decide that you don't want to shop there but I think you'll question the merit of your negative comments.
That settles it. I have to go see what a Whole Foods store is like. I have heard people rave about them, but we don't have one in my town.
You weren't acting all bad about organic food. I am impressed by your dedication to shopping and preparing good meals. Meals, cooking, for me are a drag. That's from cooking for a doctor for 20 years whose presence at the table I could never count on. Plus, my mother was such a witch about manners and my 'need' for salt, that sitting down family style has always been difficult. My hat is off to you. I'm like... when are we getting a Boston Market so I can drive up for dinner?
I laughed out loud at all you leaving the table for computers. We email each other in the house. My office is upstairs as are the kids' rooms - right across the hall and down the hall... I'd email one of them and ask them to go get me a Coke. Or even funnier, "What are you doing?" When I bought this house, it was under construction and I had it wired for sound and for TV. I have satellite TV and I got each child their own box. My box is for the living room and my bedroom (first floor). None of us have ever been TV watchers, and I only watch the news or TLC or the History Channel - channels they'd not watch. So, they got their own TV and box. One night I was laughing at "Whose Line Is It Anyway" and I heard laughing from upstairs. Both kids were in their separate rooms watching the same show I was. It was a one-time shot, but it's a clear signal about contemporary life. Now with our computers, the TV only comes on for Brit Hume, and the kids don't watch at all.
Oh....they both have phones that email. That's wonderful because without calling, I can talk to them anywhere. I'm not a phone person. Could easily live without one.
I'm not sure what spurred all this chatter... must be getting tired. Time to go read. I'm reading "I am a Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter. I love that stuff. It's about how we think.
They have discovered that lithium grows brain matter. They have gone so far as to experiment with non-therapuetic doses as an adjunct to other meds for depression and schizophrenia and....this is the best - Alzheimer's. It's worth Googling if you're interested. I recall you mentioned bipolar..... this is very reassuring on all fronts.
Phoenix, our TV fare is similar tho husband does not find much funny. But we will all gather absorbed over a documentary on sword making or some military history (tho if husband makes us endure the sinking of the Yamato or Remember the Hood one more time we will all smother him). Daughter and I will email each other across the living room when husband is pontificating.
Re: doctors. My best friends have always been doctors. Perhaps because I never married one? :) Husband used to be an investment banker and still has a self-image as Darth Vader (sigh!)
Still somber over a recent Time news piece (the cover said "The Science of Appetite" on why people eat too much with pix comparing the weekly diets of a bunch of people around the world. The Americans with our sodas and chips and pizza. The hearty Germans with ninety nine bottles of beer and lots of solid stuff. The African family with a couple of sacks of relief grain. Now, feeding them and helping them feed themselves better is what someone who's a "force for good" does. Not make a profit from spoiled over-indulged types like me and my buddies like Whole Foods...It is funny how we all get so het up being loyal to where we spend money. In a way that we used to about God, country, family, our homes...
I never phone anyone (hate phone calls) except necessary conferences with lawyers about wacko relatives threatening harm...or possibly teens overseas. Am lusting over the new Iphone but refuse to pay Cingular's outrageous data rates, or deal with their rotten customer service.... The cheapest way to email easily from a phone so far seems to be one of TMobile's Blackberry addons to a cheap phone plan. An extra 19.99 a month compared to 50-70 approx on all the other cell carriers. At least my corner of the galaxy. Uhoh, who will now tell me AT&T is a force for good...
Will check out that book you mentioned. Love that stuff also. Anything on the brain, consciousness, etc. It's always a trip when visiting one of the kid's shrinks to see a popularizing book on one of their conditions on their desk and have them patronisingly suggest that they are just reading it and we might struggle thru Chapter X. At which I smile sweetly and give a review, with citations to the other views in the field, research studies, etc. and offer suggestions for further reading if they are interested...A distraught, devoted parent is often highly motivated to research more than a clinician who has a gazillion patients with other diagnoses and whose worst stress is PARENTS!
Have read that stuff on lithium. Never did buy all those sermons in original recommendations about how only a dose close to toxicity could be therapeutic (relative near killed several times by this nonsense).
Robert is a serious fan of Whole Foods. As I mentioned, I am one of a small few who don't seem to love it.
Have hubby come over to our house and we can watch the elderly HMS Hood survivor Ted Briggs retell his story for the seven kazillionth time. Fine by me. Buddy, are you reading this? You too.
Whole Foods is OK if you are in a certain snotty Boomerish mood that I find increasingly difficult to sustain. I was once stationed in DC and working very long hours for many days at a time. After one excruciating day that produced a pounding headache, I walked in to the then new Whole Foods on Duke Street in Alexandria and asked if they had any Tylenol PM. "No, nothing like that, but we carry a great selection of herbal..." "Hey, thanks anyway" I said and walked over to the CVS for my Tylenol and Oreos and Stouffer's Mac and Cheese. And so to bed.
Hey, skook, there are times when only Oreos satisfy!
Re:the Hood, as a Navy brat,I just get too upset hearing about all those sailors drowning...probably gets to me so irrationally because of being swooped up as a tiny girl by my father in uniform?
The naval story I cannot bear is the one where the sailors were left in the sea surrounded by sharks. Many were killed by sharks. I can't remember the name of the vessel. oh, sad.
AT&T just bought Cingular. My daughter is getting the iPhone, but if you wait a couple of months, the price may come down. I doubt it, though, considering Apple doesn't play by the rules of the market as it is its own market. Full disclosure: I won't buy or use anything but a MAC. My son has TMobile and that seems reasonable. I don't know what the iPhone will be for the monthly service. Plenty of copycats coming online, though.
My brother emailed today to tell me that Ritalin is now being used for people with Parkinson's. My father has it, and I am very excited. I researched it, and it seems to block the dopamine receptors so more dopamine remains in the system. It said that the results are fairly astounding in how patients respond. That is wonderful news as my father developed it late in life - he'll not die of it - and he cannot walk very well. He uses a walker or a cane. This may help his walk which would be the best thing.
I saw that food article in TIME. I cannot get too serious about it all for some reason. Best thing I ever read about diets and health, I read in the '70's in a Redbook magazine. It basically said diets are doomed to fail because the take a psychological toll on you. The only way to stay healthy and to 'diet' if one wants/needs to is to do everything with moderation. It included exercising, drinking, eating....every thing. The point was never to feel deprived because that messed with your head. Moderate behaviors are always tolerable. Except when I want a Krispee Kreme chocolate drizzled glazed donut and drive into town at 10 P.M. to get one.
I read another article about Big Pharma and though lengthy and detailed, one thing struck me: A large percentage of their work now is on tangential uses for drugs that have been on the market and are now being used for things other than their original purpose. Good news keeps coming in.
Skook's story made me think of a snotty little restaurant in our Renaissance downtown area. It is very nice but not that big of a deal. The owner is a handsome man who stands around in too-tight jeans and says hello or helps out occasionally. He came to ask a friend and me what we'd like to drink. I asked for a frozen Margarita and he flinched back and moved forward with his chin tucked and his bulge bulging and said, "Oh. We don't serve those here." Fine. Except I didn't like his tone of voice - as if a froo-froo drink on a hot day was too bourgeois for his fine establishment. I said, "Would you mind repeating that in a different tone of voice?" My friend, my lawyer, almost slid under the table.... He said, "I beg your pardon." I said, "I know." and stood up to leave and handed him my fine linen napkin and said, "Do mop your brow."
Okay...that's it. I've told of the only two times I was a brat in public. I'm always nice in public. It's the snot thing I can't deal with.
Time for bed.... Sure wish I had a line of Oreos to do. :)
Pass me a nice cold Margarita with a side of Oreos.
I think it was the Indianapolis. Hubby tells me they were eaten because of clerical error. A problem in the way the Navy accounted for ships. In theory, a search would have gone out in 24 hours. But in that instance, it wasn't until 3 days...Don't know if this is true.
Puts all those "Your call is very important to us...." frustrations in perspective....
Off to the salt mines...
Yes! The clerical error thing and the long wait for help. oh, That made the story, event, so much sadder. No doubt those who survived are traumatized for life.
Here's another off-label almost-miracle story about drugs. Propanolol, a simple, inexpensive, blood pressure medicine has changed the lives of people with PTSD. When a person gets a flashback (or one is induced in therapy) take propanolol. Or, if you're doing it in therapy, take it before you go... The propanolol deactivates the receptors that keep adrenaline and cortisol flooding the system during a flashback, and that helps the memory become processed in the amygdala as opposed to floating around waiting to screw you up with some bad mojo memories. The point - if the body does not respond as if it is reliving the trauma, the memory lessens its effect on the person. You don't forget the memory - it just does not affect you or your body in the classic trauma reaction. A woman participating in a blind study happened to be one in the study who was taking propanolol though she didn't know it. She'd been violently raped as a young girl and had suffered terribly from the resulting PTSD. She was home one evening watching TV with her husband and something triggered a bad flashback so she took a couple of propanolols. To her and the researchers shock, the woman had a mere, non-reactive memory of the rape. It was like magic.
Trauma units in Iraq are using it. War makes for the worst PTSD, and there are huge efforts to ameliorate it before it becomes full-blown.
I think 30 10mg. pills costs five bucks.
What a great yuppie restaurant story. Come to Seattle and within a 10 block radius in downtown you could repeat that performance at least 30 times!
I might get arrested. :) I hate a supercilious attitude from someone waiting on me. I'm paying. They're working. Now get it straight. :]