Whole Foods is, to me, at once the seductress, the source of life, and the enemy.
Every time I stroll in the vicinity of one of these specialized, high-end grocery stores I find myself feeling more fit, breathing more deeply, aware of a tan and healthy glow on the faces of everyone walking out of those swishing glass doors. Once I go inside, it’s over. So what if the steak costs $25 per pound and the fruit is imported from across the globe during the winter?
I become convinced that this is what I need, that if I only had the money or time or energy to cook up a feast made entirely of Whole Foods ingredients at every meal, I would be the healthiest person on earth. So I’ll try it for a day or two, and inevitably end up discouraged when I’ve spent $50 on trendy foods that go bad in my refrigerator while I make peanut butter toast for dinner three nights in a row.
What are we to do? How can we care for our bodies in healthy ways without spending loads of money or buying into a health craze?
There may not be one simple response to this question, but over the last few months I have gained a deep and significant appreciation for:
My local farmer’s market. It has allowed me to take on the risk of a totally new food with little cost and has the added benefit of connecting me with the people who grow, harvest, and cultivate the food. I learn from the time I spend there, and I learn from these people. They are quick to share their favorite recipes with me, quick to give tips and listen to my complaints and remind me that we are all human.
When we trade in the pretense of perfection for the reality of connected imperfection, we all benefit.
It may be that Whole Foods is that place for you. Or Costco, or Lucky’s, or your neighbor’s garden. But the more we can connect with the people involved in the food we eat, the better off we are as we remember that it doesn’t take much to feed ourselves well. We can make clumsy attempts at new recipes and have conversations with new friends and learn new things as we take care of our bodies and steward the resources of this earth.