It’s not quite Groundhog Day but I’m already feeling déjà vu: Not only are my three kids home from their three Evanston schools for the 3rd time this winter, but there’s talk that a third Whole Foods might be coming to town.
I fully support and appreciate the school closings. Yes, it’s an inconvenience in every conceivable way: students lose classroom time and daily physical education and parents tear their hair out finding ways to adjust their schedules and address cabin fever; the school calendar has become a flexible document as teacher inservice days (normally half-days for students) become full-days and the last-day-of-school becomes an ever elusive target. Still, there’s no way a child (or a crossing guard) should be outside for more than one minute in these temperatures. I know my high schooler isn’t the only one who refuses to wear gloves or a hat or several thermal layers…I exchange knowing glances with parents and bus drivers dropping kids at ETHS and we all seem to say, “What are you gonna do? They’re kids.” It’s the right call to cancel school on days like this, and I’m trying to make the most of it. I just hope they get out in time to see the 4th of July parade…
Now, whether I support a 3rd Whole Foods in Evanston is still up for grabs. Let me just say for the record: I am a fan of Whole Foods. It’s not my primary shopping destination, but I like to go there when I can. We’re lucky that we're able, at times, to afford it. In my heart, however, I’m a grocery "dabbler". I go to Target for packaged goods and beverages because they tend to be cheaper. I shop at Jewel whenever I’m picking up a prescription at Osco and I go there for most last-minute trips because it’s easy and familiar. I also go there for our junk food (Halloween candy, chips, frozen pizzas, frozen waffles, etc). I go to Trader Joe's for most cheese, milk, lunch meats and frozen items; the produce at the Evanston Trader Joe’s has been inconsistent at best. I try to hit up Whole Foods for produce and (I’m just gonna say it) FFOP.
What’s FFOP? It's what I call Food For Other People. It’s the food I don’t budget for but desire because it’s so good. It’s the food I don’t think I can afford but am willing to shuffle the expenses around for but it’s so consistently convenient and/or high quality that I’m willing to spend the extra money to get it. My examples of FFOP include ready-made guacamole that I can bring to someone’s house, or the fruit tray that costs more than our medical deductible. Why do I even buy FFOP? In the case of the fruit tray, I know that everything on it will be a) ripe b) delicious c) something my family will finish and d) a healthier alternative to six bags of potato chips. FFOP includes crackers that look and taste like someone carved the grains and nuts and berries by hand in such an artisanal manner than they’re almost too pretty to eat. FFOP includes the cheeses and honeys and olives in varieties I never knew existed. My husband and I work hard to afford these items, yet I still feel guilt every time I see the register receipt. The money I spend at Whole Foods could go to so many other more worthy things...
But then I remind myself that ALL food should be this good, this fresh, this healthy and this appealing to the senses that it makes you want to try new things all the time. And, when I consider all the amazing community outreach that our two existing Whole Foods accomplish…or the extended reach that a third one might bring, I think it's great that we may get another one. I think about all the kids I know who have serious food issues and can only find what they need to live healthy lives at Whole Foods.
My husband and two teenagers went vegetarian in the past 30 days (I blame -- er, thank -- Mr. Cohen at Nichols Middle School for kicking off this movement. After he showed his 8th grade English class a movie called Food, Inc., the Wolf meat-boycott was born). I’m now in the position of looking for nutritious, meatless options for meals. Grilled cheese and scrambled eggs and veggie pasta dishes only go over so many times. I walk into Whole Foods and find inspiration and ideas. I can ask anyone there and they offer suggestions and understand the challenge. There’s a price to pay for that level of service. Whole Foods sets a very high bar. They’re often seen as the gold standard in groceries, but will a third Whole Foods help or harm our community's grocery options in Evanston?
Fresh, healthy food shouldn’t be a luxury -- but it still is. Whole
Foods is known as the “whole paycheck” grocery store, but I hope that changes.
I want see the low supply and high demand for healthy grocery items trade
places in Evanston’s grocery matrix. If a third Whole Foods comes to Green Bay, will
What's your take? What do you think of Whole Foods buying the former Dominick's location on Green Bay Road?