My best friend keeps a list of random things I say that amuse her. She read the list out to me once and the first item was, “I don’t know how to get home but Whole Foods is that way.”
There is no quote that describes my personality more than this one, except maybe one involving frozen kefir or Timothée Chalamet. What better way to introduce this column — its name borrowed from our fearless editor-in-chief’s former sports column — than with 600 words about Whole Foods?
Whole Foods Market has become a big part of my life in more ways than one. If the business ever foreclosed, I’d have a hole in my heart. So this piece of work is my love letter dedicated to the grocery store.
Grocery shopping is one of my favorite pastime activities, which even I consider odd. I have no problem roaming aisles in search of mayonnaise, avocadoes or the best lime tortilla chips, and many of my friends and I end up grocery shopping together at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. One of them may as well be on the same level as me when it comes to Whole Foods — he’s bought $100 worth of cheese there before.
I’ve spent countless hours in Whole Foods with my high school best friends, getting sushi dinners and mochi, grocery shopping and just going in to lounge and talk about life. It was our most frequented after-school hangout space.
Some of my favorite moments happened at Whole Foods. During my time working for my high school’s newspaper, my co-editors and I worked on a story about the best pizza places in Chicago. On a rainy day off from school, the four of us went to three pizza places in a timespan of four hours and ended our dough-and-tomato-sauce-filled day by drinking kombuchas and off-brand Coca-Cola at Whole Foods.
Appropriately, Whole Foods also falls on the opposite end of the spectrum of good to bad moments. Whole Foods in Lincoln Park (1550 N. Kingsbury St.) — also my favorite Whole Foods in Chicago — is a lunch spot I often frequent because the made-to-order menu offers chicken teriyaki burgers, which I love. Once, my food came after a 20-minute wait, and my clumsy self knocked over the tray holding a teriyaki burger and bowl full of french fries. The fries sprayed all over the floor, and the burger was beheaded — one bun was feet away from its partner. Not one of my finest moments, but all my spectators got a laugh.
You can find almost anything under the sun within the store’s four walls. Gluten-free soap. Bacon and barbeque potato chip chocolate bars. Jalapeño pineapple hummus. These oddities sitting on the neatly organized shelves, likely not noticed by many, have contributed to my peculiar cravings.
Anyone who knows me knows I basically survive on kombucha and frozen kefir, a Greek-yogurt tasting ice cream. I’m a major proponent of kombucha — something passed down to me from my mother — and Whole Foods sells the most varieties of kombucha I’ve ever come across.
During the polar vortex Chicago faced two weeks ago, I didn’t go outside, at least on that Wednesday. Although I did want to so I could say I experienced 55 degrees below zero, I decided to stay inside, bundled up in my oversized black hoodie. Thursday though, I ventured out only to one place, and you know where I’m talking about. A trip made specifically for bread and kombucha.
Whole Foods used to sell pints of Lifeway Kefir’s frozen kefir. When I discovered this late one night, I immediately placed an online order through Instacart to get two pints delivered straight to my front door. I patiently waited for my order to arrive only to realize my credit card didn’t go through. Instead of eating my kefir for a midnight snack, I had to have it for breakfast. A shame.
This item has since been discontinued, much to my dissatisfaction, but the minor setback was not enough to deter my love.