I went into my local Whole Foods last weekend. You know the one. It used to be Wild Oats and before that, Alfalfas. To your average shopper, Whole Foods looks ideal for a quick market spree. The layout, as seen from above, strongly conveys the plan of a board game. Anally precise pyramidical arrays of avocados and potatoes create a khaki cropland divided into sectors of plumb-straight paths for shopping carts. There is no funnel. From the entrance, arrayed walls of fruit and vegetables look laned like sprinting tracks of olympic proportions, the strategic design replete with modern angles and colorful signage. By then, either the impulse to fill a cart with an assortment of health and health related items has either just materialized or soon will.
For some, the objective of this game might not be about speed rather than navigating the circular experience without falling victim to the annoyingly enticing hot food bar or sleek brands of organic cotton articles of interest protruding from any unadorned patch of polished stone floor. I can’t help but to ponder over the variety of health orientated brands. How could I easily escape the refrigerated section on a hot Virginia day while envisioning my afternoon with any one of the fifty yogurt varieties featuring milk from coconuts, almonds, cows, or goats. No sooner had I chosen a yogurt, had I conceived a brand of my own using the next trendy nut or fruit ingredient with milking potential. Walnut milk? This familiar self conflict is made possible by the comfortable ambiance not unlike every one of the 342 Whole Foods across the country. In fact, If I were transported to the cafe section, near to the brick oven pizza and burrito bar, which is predictably the same in every WFM, and asked what to order, with the possibility that I was anywhere in the country, I would know exactly what to say. That is okay because the affinity of shopping the whole court creates enough welcomed dilemmas such as which variety of Kombucha will go best with my vegan cheese pizza.