Whole Food Shoppers Are Rude.

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I buy my family’s groceries mostly at large chain supermarkets like Giant and Safeway. When you go through eight gallons of milk each week, economy is essential. But the freezing cold aisles and excessive neon lighting ruins the shopping experience for me – I’m in and out as fast as possible.

 

Every month or so I splurge at the Whole Foods a few blocks up the street from the mega-markets. The one in my neighborhood has the most wonderful organic strawberries, lettuce medleys, and the yummy turkey meatballs my three kids pop in their mouths like bonbons. I often take my six-year-old because she loves sampling the exotic cheeses, cut kiwi and jicama that are in scarce supply in our household. The colorful, holistic atmosphere at Whole Foods (along with all the organic cotton baby clothes and endangered species stuffed animals) makes the place feel extremely welcoming and child-friendly.

 

But here’s the unpleasant, repeat reality: my fellow shoppers at Whole Foods look at my curly haired munchkin as if she were a rat carrying bubonic plague. Meeting their gaze, I offer my best “isn’t she cute” mama-smile. Without fail the well-coiffed, well-heeled patrons sniff, turn away, and scowl as if children should not be permitted to despoil the holy land of fresh figs, kumquats and Fat Bastard wine. (I have to note that Whole Foods employees always grin warmly at the smallest Whole Foodies.)
Now I understand there are places where kids can wreak havoc and legitimately should not venture. I do not take my six year old to the opera at the Kennedy Center, where she might well ruin the evening for everyone (including me). Same experience combining children with a costly restaurant meal, as babies do not go well with béchamel sauce. Or the first class section on an airplane, where I have never taken kids but I have witnessed richer-than-me parents doing. I once led my troop into Neiman Marcus for 30 seconds before realizing my mistake. No matter how beatifically behaved, children do not belong in certain venues. And of course it is understandable (although definitely not nice) to shoot an annoyed glance at a toddler wailing in the Amtrak Quiet Car or one with green boogers streaming out his nose. But I feel like shouting at the haughty Whole Foods patrons: this place is called Whole Foods because we’re buy life-sustaining food at here, not Limoges china or high-end stereo components!

 

workingmomofthree
02.10.09

workingmomofthree:
I don't think it Whole Foods shoppers - I feel like it's most people everywhere you go (store, airport, cafe, etc.) that cannot handle kids. I feel most times like I am greatly inconveniencing people with our presence. When did we become this type of society? I do not take my kids to adult places like nice restaurants, art museums, etc. (I have three kids under 3.5 years) so am amazed when I still get attitude from folks in kid friendly places like malls, etc. My dog gets more love than my kids! :)

ARLn3kids
02.10.09

I guess each Whole Foods Store crowd is unique, as far as welcoming little guests goes (prob. depends on neighborhood of store). But, I live in Virginia, and I'm laid back (i.e. jeans, air-dried hair, & chapstick is my everyday makeup). I must say that I've never taken all 3 of mine to my local W.F. store, as I feel like the "richies" are dissing me enough by myself. I'll take the neon lights, and cold aisles any day to the stiff atmosphere, and cold gazes.
Though maybe I should wait til a really "fussy" kid day and visit, to really give them all something to stare at--lol.

phillymama
02.10.09

I'm pretty surprised by this post. There are kids all over the Whole Foods in my neighborhood (Philadelphia) and I often take my toddler there. In fact my Whole Foods is one of the MOST kid-friendly places I've experienced.

junebeatle
02.10.09

I am very surprised by your experience at your local Whole Foods. My 17 month old son has terrible food allergies so this is our local savior for his special dietary needs. I have always taken him with me in tow & see lots of other parents and kids being toted in slings, grocery carts, etc. It's great to see families and little ones taking part in saving the earth and being more green friendly:) We live in Tampa, maybe location has something to do with it.

MamaKaren
02.10.09

I agree that children should be welcome at any grocery store. I'm surprised, though, at your experience, since the Whole Foods near my office is always full of kids. Kids whose mothers like to stand in the middle of the aisle chatting with their playgroup-mom buddies about which new daytime activities they've found to enrich their babies' lives, and scowling at me when I try to get past with whatever I've chosen for lunch, as though my mere presence is offensive and my desire to finish shopping in a timely manner is out of line.

Trader Joe's, on the other hand, is a store in which I've never gotten any negative feedback about my kids (no matter which location I visit.)

riotbrrd
02.10.09

Wow, I've had exactly the opposite experience at my local Whole Foods. My 2-1/2-yo and I wander the isles, sampling way more than we should, and we often get into conversations with other shoppers. I've never had a bad, anti-kid experience there.

leslie morgan s...
02.10.09

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Romantic Mom -- you are absolutely right. Do they think moms LIKE to be in elegant, quiet places with fine breakables, shushing and threatening our kids? Does that sound FUN? It takes years off my life, confuses my children, and I avoid those situations like a lice-infested hairbrush.

leslie morgan s...
02.10.09

Leslie Morgan Steiner

I had to run into Whole Foods last night (Sunday) with a total of four children -- two of mine and two friends. Total Sunday pm crowded shopping pandemonium. I felt braver having written the essay. Like -- get a life, kids need to eat too! Went through the Express Line. As usual, the Whole Foods cashier was lovely. As usual, not a single fellow shopper deigned to meet my gaze. Grow up!

ROMANTIC MOM
02.09.09

HERE! HERE! MOST MOTHERS KNOW WHERE SMALL CHILDREN ARE ALLOWED AND WHERE THEY AREN'T. EVEN SO, THERE HAS TO COME A TIME WHEN THEY HAVE TO BE INTRODUCED TO THOSE ENVIRONMENTS SO THEY CAN LEARN HOW TO BEHAVE IN PUBLIC. AND TO ALL THE SNOOTY PEOPLE WHO TURN THEIR NOSES UP AND ROLL THEIR EYES AT LITTLE ONES, I SAY "GET A LIFE!" MINE IS MY FAMILY!