Holy bean sprouts, Bat-friends, I almost short-circuited most of my neural pathways in Whole Foods today.
But we knew that would happen, didn't we? When it comes to things I love (good food, well-crafted prose, and Jon Stewart), I am incapable of any sort of critical distance. And one of my very favorite things to do, especially when visiting a foreign country, is to spend an hour or two looking at every single item on the shelves of the local supermarket. Actually, that's more of a hypothetical since it's so hard to shake my family while on vacation, and they don't share my unbridled passion for grocery stores. Even distracting them with something like rabbit dog food or chickens with their feet and heads left on is only worth five minutes, tops. Short Pump might as well be a foreign country to me, since I never seem to get any farther west than Target at Libbie.
Nonetheless, I thought, as a veteran of the Whole Foods in Charlottesville, I wouldn't be that impressed with the new one here in Richmond. I wanted to go to the press opening the day before the official one, but someone forgot to register me and the only tours they had left were after 5:00 pm. With my demanding chauffeur schedule (thank you, Richmond Ballet), that just wasn't going to work. It probably would have been a good idea, however, to do few little desensitization exercises before I went today. The visual overload was profound. Not to mention the number all those choices did on my psyche.
I can barely believe how much I spent on dry-aged beef. Even with the $10 discount if you spent $40 or more (!) at the meat counter, it was a very, very foolish thing to do. Ditto the avocado oil, the Pellegrino sodas (lemon), the chocolate, the duck, the many different kinds of greens, and the fish--particularly bad since I was overcharged $5/pound for it (I know, I know). Please don't tell any of the many CSA's I belong to that I was there. I'm deeply ashamed of betraying them like this.
Whole Foods is, indeed, very far away. That's good for me and good for everyone out there in Edge City. I don't need to waste the gas and wallow in regret on a regular basis. I think Ellwood Thompson will be just fine when the excitement dies down, and its carbon-conscious customers start to feel as guilty as I do. Actually, they've probably all beat me to it.
Ukrop's, I'm confident, will again up their game. They always do, and I love them for that. With its expansion, we know E-T is already on top of the new competition, and I'm grateful for their foresight. It's a great big new world out there in the grocery store universe!
In addition, the two stores have one thing that Whole Foods has yet to understand is a deal breaker for most Richmonders: Bag boys. Or bag people. Or maybe bag-granddads. Who sometimes sing. Richmonders like to chat AND they don't like to push carts in parking lots, so the bag carrier serves a unique and much overlooked social/utilitarian function in the daily rounds of local life.
In conclusion, I'd like to thank Whole Foods for coming to Richmond, or at least coming near our dear city. Even though I don't have the time or money or mental fortitude to shop your aisles, just knowing you're there makes the food world better for everybody. I like choice, even if I choose to abstain.