Dearest Whole Foods supermarkets,

In retrospect, I feel like I knew how this would end before I even met you. I mean, seriously, your very name distinctly implies that other foods are somehow incomplete and inferior by comparison. I should have realized then how spoiled you were. Even before you started taking me on as your sugar daddy, you were already more spoiled than week-old pesticide-free arugula.

Of course, you wouldn’t have gotten that bad if you tried adding just a few preservatives … butylated hydroxytoluene comes to mind … but not you. No, your apple-smoked turkey-artichoke sausages rot at both ends. You beat on, your Gorgonzola-stuffed endive boat against the current.

Which is why this just can’t last. I mean, look at me. I clip coupons. I buy dress shirts at Ross. Ever buy a plastic bottle of vodka? I have. And I don’t go pouring it into marinara sauce, or muddling it with fresh pomegranate and basil. I sip it. I sip it and I think about my student loans, my failing fantasy-league teams, my numerous and glaring faults.

And I guess that’s why you’ll never be alone; you do make whole, albeit fleetingly, the tortured life of the disaffected urban ex-rebel. Your herbal-supplements section, like your excuses, seem to offer a solution for everything. You offer me organic vegan unflavored gelatin, and I think, “Maybe that’s what’s been missing …”

But mark my words—it will all come crashing down upon you, Whole Foods. Your oils, unguents, and tuna cans all say “cruelty-free,” but you and I know just what sadistic depths you’re capable of plumbing. The FDA may not have evaluated your statements, but I’ve had all the time in the world to do just that, and there’s more hypocrisy in your promises than in a beef-flavored soy patty.

Even writing this, I feel, is a sign of the weakness I have for you—a passive-aggressive attempt to revive that spark I once felt when pensively regarding the heft and bearing of a $7 jar of peanut butter. You have stolen my youthful zest and replaced it with free-range-yak’s-milk Wensleydale, which, as any yak will tell you, only goes so far.

But I’m moving on. There’s a new man in my life, Whole Foods. You might know him; his name is Joe, and he’s big in the trade industry. He and I will line my cupboard with a love stronger than your chelated nondairy nonanimal protein lozenges, deeper than the roast of your fair-trade mountain-grown shade-grown Ethiopian Yergacheffe, and bulkier than all of the bulgur wheat and buckwheat groats in your bulk-foods aisle.

It’s been real, Whole Foods. But it’s been anything but whole.

Zachary N. Howard
Cambridge, MA