Whole Foods Is Expensive. You’re Poor. Stop Going.

Whole Paycheck.

Whole Paycheck.

It’s really and truly that simple – just stop going – but I understand; it’s much easier said than done. Millennials, I’ve said it once before, but it’s really true – you’re all poor. No really. But you must understand beloveds, Whole Foods is partly to blame as to why you have no assets. I get it; it’s easier to buy Maple water for $4 and feel solvent than it is to actually be solvent in this economy. And when your student loan balance is the size of a small country’s GDP, what difference does $10-a-pound buffalo meat make?

There’s a convincing argument to make for that argument. However, today is not that day. What I’m talking about instead are the dreams, unrealistic life expectations that keep you mired in the artistinal feudal system. Buying your way into the upper classes through Whole Foods and other aspirational stores (J.Crew junkies, I’m looking at you) is why you have no car, though you live in cities that claim you don’t need one or that the Metro is cheaper than owning a car. (Okay, New York.) Whole Foods is why you can’t afford a mortgage. Whole Foods is partly why you have three roommates. That’s simplifying things a bit (like overlooking your B.A. in Medieval English), but it’s essentially the truth.

Note: As we’re taking this pixelated tour of the ridiculously priced items in Whole Foods that stand between you and solvency, (or at least, a full grocery bag for less than $100) you’ll also have to excuse the quality of the photos, as when you’re busy taking photos and documenting Millennial poverty not buying food, you have to move quickly, lest you arouse suspicion. It’s one thing to be poor, quite another to act it, but capturing reality, or whatever.

People in New York will say that Whole Foods isn’t that expensive. Some will even say that there are statistics showing this to be the case. These are all facts. To someone. After Fairway, Whole Foods is the second cheapest grocery store in Manhattan. But this is all relative. Relative to the fact that people in New York and San Francisco are paying nearly $3 for five sprigs of kale. This is absurd folks and could be argued as a form of produce terrorism when people in Dallas and Houston are only paying $1.50 for a real, full bushel of kale.

better and cropped kale

the price one pays to eat in the People’s Republic of California

A while ago, I went to a Whole Foods in San Francisco with $10. Just to see. Laughable, I know, but what can I say – I’m a gambling woman. (But, to be fair, I now have a more empathetic view of what it feels like when men attempt to date notches out of their league.)

Whole Foods and I have never had a great relationship, but I still go, because in SoMa, it’s the only grocery store for miles. As far I’m concerned, Trader Joe’s doesn’t even carry produce when you must pay 75 cents per apple. It’s actually ironic; most poor Americans in this situation are subjected to K-town with bananas as spotted as plantains, but the poor in San Francisco, they’ll just have to make do with their $4.99 a pound hybrid fruit.

hybrid fruit limequats

As John Steinbeck would have said, I’m a temporarily embarrassed millionaire – with a very strong addiction to Siggi’s yoghurt.

siggi's yoghurt

At a $1.69, Millennial holistic crack Siggi’s ain’t cheap. But, it does come in a “basic” flavor, so, that’s a bonus, I suppose.

basic bitch yoghurt

does not come with “Pink” sweatpants.

Ten dollars does not go really much further than this. That said, the coconut, spiced pear, vanilla and acai & mixed berries flavors are BOMB. Try them all, though not all at once unless you can afford it. If you are truly destitute and have to pick one, I’d say go with the coconut and print coupons from the Siggi’s website. Because, again, $10.00 does not go much further than this, especially if you do not bring your own reusable bags. So, I begin backpedalling/doing the running man away and bump into the cracker aisle. Yes, the sustenance of The Poors. The BAF gods (Broke As F*ck) are looking out and this is fortuitous. But of course, crackers aren’t just crackers at Whole Foods. First, I find these dishwashing sponges Green Crackers, which I thought were for dogs at first given the Purina grade of green, but I was wrong. And they were $7.39.

Continuing to back pedal, I bump into alcohol. I’ve never been known to find myself at the bottom of a spirit glass, but I am also approaching an age in my life where I shouldn’t be against it. But what does one do exactly when it’s the prices of libations that makes you want to drink?

Christmas beer

And how is it, nearly a month after Christmas, beer from said holiday is the same price as regular beer? And this “sale” is going on until February 10th? Look. If Beaujolais can lower their standards prices after the season, surely this maison of craft beer can make some adjustments. I have no skin in this game; I hate beer. My grandfather called it “peasant piss” and though I agree, it’s neither here nor there. I just want to know what I could drink if I were destitute and despondent. This is not the drink of the actually poor. I keep the search moving.

This is just getting depressing and as such, the idea of sharing alcohol with people is even more depressing, so I begin to look for cheaper yet elegant ways to privately humiliate and depress oneself. Prosecco. Yes. Introducing American women to fake drunkenness since their spring semester studying abroad in Italy.

Eventually after fine tooth combing the entire wine selection like I’m looking for a last ponytail holder, I find some $5.99 house Chardonnay. It’s probably for the best, because at the point where I’d be willing to drink this, I’m not paying attention to the taste anyway.

Basically, breathing self-destructive behavior at Whole Foods is expensive, so I took it as a sign that perhaps I should look for more constructive ways of dealing with poverty in Whole Foods. Naturally, my mind wandered to that time that I heard Miranda Kerr, truly one of the Baddest Bitches in the Land, drinks noni juice religiously and puts maca powder in her green smoothies and thus, has not aged. (Disclaimer: as a Black woman, I will look 25 for the next 25 years, but still. I’m setting my bar at Thandie Newton/Tina Turner levels.) What can be more constructive than self improvement? I had actually been thinking of switching up my green smoothie routine and maybe this was just the nudge to do it.

Wrong.

prosecco

maca powder

noni juice

How the f*ck is this an everyday deal? Who is buying this sh*t everyday? Can they buy me some? Can Miranda Kerr buy me some? How does one achieve levels of Miranda Kerr bad bitchness when $31.00 juice is a requisite? I begin wondering if there’s a bar that I can go to that just mixes vodka with noni juice, but then remember even if this drink does exist a.) I hate vodka and b.) this drink is probably $15.00. c.) disregarding point “a”, I still will probably need three drinks to feel its numbing effects, cancelling out any therapeutic or budgeting effects.

The system is rigged beyond reproach.

it is what it is.

it is what it is.

$7.39. Yes, seven hundred thirty nine pennies. Plus the five cent California bottle tax. And I left my reuseable tote at home? Add another ten cents for the San Francisco paper bag tax. That’s obscene right? I can’t imagine any artists surviving in San Francisco off pasta sauce that costs $7.54. I mean, that’s like a two day eating budget for a real renegade.

Looking at the actual pasta was not worth the bother. Instead, I thought crackers were a more worthwhile pursuit. Can’t go wrong with crackers right?

this is what we've come to.

this is what we’ve come to.

Nevermind I couldn’t find Saltines and we won’t even talk about how one of the employees didn’t know what I was talking about. What the fuck are you doing in Whole Foods on a budget? At this point, I’ve spent close to $30.00 of my $10.00 budget. Onto the quinoa. No hipster diet is complete without this grain and though I didn’t have the time or money to make a $15 quinoa salad, I couldn’t help but to take a peek.

cropped quinoa

It wasn’t nearly as bad as what I thought it’d be – pasta sauce is more?! – but still. This budget is way over budget. In fact, the free honey and agave at the $4 coffee bar was the only thing that I could *truly* afford.

Are Millennials poor because of Whole Foods? No. Not technically. But, it’s also dumb to pretend that it’s not a status symbol, a consumer good onto itself and a means of projecting class ideals. Most people, let alone Millennials, can’t afford the upper-middle class aspirations that Whole Foods represents. It’s not just the whole foods they’re buying. In a time where higher education is out of reach for many, home ownership seems fantastical and living without roommates and saving for retirement simultaneously seems impossible, Whole Foods kind of represents buying a slice or two of the gluten-free American pie.

Don’t forget the $2 bottle of herbal water to wash it down, of course.

herbal water

4 comments

  1. However . . . you can also get decent $2.99 bottle of wine at WF, $4 pizza, $1.69 burritos, and so on and so forth. I go because it is literally right around the corner from me–and I just don’t buy the expensive stuff!

    1. When you can find a sale, Whole Foods is great! I think they’ve gotten much better about having more competitive price points. The sandwich bar at the SoMA location – so expensive, but so bomb.

  2. Get distilled water by the gallon, and a basil plant, or plant a little herb garden, and make your own herbal waters. Also, look at the 20 or 25 lb. bags of organic carrots, lol.. they are quite a good deal, and great for juice fasting. Get some organic fruit and make infused waters. You have to shop the sales, and use whole foods for ideas, not just physical product. Also, make sure to sample the olive and food bars, and find out when your local store has wine tastings. You can also sample any cheese at whole foods. WF is a great resource, but you just need to approach it a bit more imaginatively.. 🙂

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