By Nic Stone
Welcome to Whole Foods, the Wal-Mart of organic food, and the best place to find an overpriced turnip imported from Bulgaria. I recently went shopping with my family to the new Whole Foods in Flower Hill Mall and was fascinated by the experience. Now, Whole Foods itself has a reputation for being rather pretentious, but a Whole Foods in Solana Beach, that's some next level chayote (an edible plant belonging to the gourd family, sold for $2.99 a pound).
First of all, valet parking, at a grocery store, and the first car I see is a $300,000 Bentley. I'm not sure that my Toyota Corolla meticulously dusted with a fine layer of neon pollen is quite valet caliber, so I decide to park in the rather large parking structure behind the store. Now, there are many occasions where the unique people from our local area look like a fish out of water (especially when the cosmetic surgery doesn't go as planned), but something about a parking garage made people forget how and where to park. I saw Range Rovers and BMWs scattered around the parking structure like hot wheels in a kindergartener’s bedroom, parking lines were ignored, and “compact” was just a suggestion.
Eventually, I reached the second level of the parking structure, where lo and behold, there were hundreds of available spaces. Outside the front entrance of Whole Foods is a typical angst-y 20 year old aggressively trying to get me to sign a petition, and right next to it just to throw in some upper class spice, a huge pile of sand being skillfully transformed into a Victorian style castle by a sweaty, sunburned squad of sand sculptors.
Finally I get into the store, and there are people standing there looking around, not grocery shopping, just standing there in a trance-like state, empty shopping basket in one hand, bowling ball sized Palmetto grapefruit from Italy in the other hand (also $2.99 a pound). We picked up a few salmon steaks that were apparently “sustainably farmed” (whatever that means) from a tattooed bodybuilder dressed up in rubber overalls like an Alaskan crab fisherman on the Discovery channel.
Then we got a loaf of bread and went to the register to overpay, and then left. I saw a few more unique driving decisions on the way out of the parking garage, but that was the end of my Whole Foods shopping experience. Even though my dad almost blew up a propane tank trying to barbeque the sustainably farmed salmon, everything was quite tasty, and we'll probably go back to Whole Foods next time we get a hankering for obscure imported cheeses, or expensive, locally grown weeds.