Stephen J. Dubner
01/17/2012 | 10:02 am
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Whole Foods is thriving because it gives the yuppie Starbucks people a place to buy groceries. These folks LOVE Whole Foods because they think that organic food will help them be healthier, although there is very little evidence to support that. Additionally, bc everyone knows how high their prices are, poor people don’t shop there, so the Yups don’t have to mingle with the underclass like they do at Wal-Mart.
The organic craze is just another status symbol. It’s the same reason people buy $200 jeans, not because they’re better, but because it shows other people they have money.
There is probably something to your status argument and you are correct about the supposed health benefits of organic food.
But I think a shopper at Whole Foods would give you many other reasons: quality, ethics, and aesthetics come to mind. You probably can’t buy Gruyere cheese at Wal-Mart (no, it is not the same as medium cheddar). The way Whole Foods treats its employees and the way its suppliers treat their animals are arguably better. The overall ambiance of a Whole Foods might make shopping there more pleasant.
I rarely shop at either place. Wal-Mart makes me inexplicably grumpy while Whole Foods makes me feel like I just got ripped off.
Both of you are wrong about organics. Even if you don’t believe the nutrition is better, which it is, you can’t deny the effect of pesticide use and residue on both the environment and our bodies. Not to mention GM Frankenfoods that are so dangerous they’ve been banned in Europe (no testing done before experimenting on humans with them.) So we’ll just inherit your earth, thank you very much.
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