• An open letter to the CEO of Whole Foods

    Attention: Mr. John Mackey

    Dear Sir,

    I have a question to ask you. But before I do, let me tell you how much I do enjoy the Whole Foods experience. I live less than one mile from your Glendale, California store and I am there at least five times per week. I particularly enjoy going there in the morning before work for a cup of tea, a piece of fruit and a daily dose of people watching. Your customers are among the most eclectic and interesting, and observing their rituals and tendencies has become something of an obsession to me.

    It is for this reason that I write.

    Last Sunday, I was in your store at an hour atypical for my usual visits. As I began my happy hour a tad early on this particular day, I found myself in need of a pick-me-up around 6 p.m. When my girlfriend suggested we go to your establishment for a Yerba Matte tea, I jumped at the opportunity to visit the store and see a new collection of humans happily spending their money on your fine products.

    Upon arrival, my girlfriend told me she needed to purchase some coconut flour and shredded coconut for a new macaroon recipe she wanted to try out. One of our friends made a batch and claimed the cookies had amazing bowel cleansing properties.

    Alas, this is not the subject of my letter.

    As I had exactly two Jack Daniel’s Perfect Manhattans in me, I was feeling rather curious and perhaps a little bold when it came to my interpersonal skills. Before assuming the worst, let me assure you that I did not offend anyone who did not deserve it. Again, not the point of my letter, but if you will be patient, I’m getting there.

    As I happened by the bulk bins that hold your nuts (well, not your nuts per se), legumes, dried fruit, flours and other grocery items, I noticed an older woman, perhaps in her late 60s, with engorged cheeks. To be honest, she looked like Monsanto had genetically mutated a squirrel. Upon closer examination, I noticed the woman was gnashing her teeth and from her proximity to the open containers of food, I surmised she may have helped herself to a fairly large sample of goods.

    Here’s what you need to know. I have a pet peeve against people who can’t abide by the honor system. My disdain is not limited to the patrons of your store. I find I cannot tolerate people who fill their purses at all-you-can eat buffets. I loathe people, who upon asking for doggie bags, proceed to take every condiment on the table even if it has no use for their leftovers. I know there are bigger injustices in the world to fight and these are not the true terrorists of the world. What can I say? When the sign says, “No sampling” it means no sampling. I also think it means, “No storing food for the long impending winter in your wrinkly old jowls”. But I could be wrong.

    With this injustice in front of me and my good friend Jack inside of me, I decided to defend the honor of your store and do so in what I thought would be a rather innocent way. Instead of approaching her, I decided the best way to combat my arch-enemy would be to lay claim to the area by pretending to be interested in every item in the food bins. I stood directly next to her for approximately five minutes, examining the Goji berries, red lentils and whatever the hell else was near by. My intent was to be the fly in her ointment by not providing her any opportunity to stuff her fat face with more of whatever it was she coveted.

    Unfortunately, old people have a lot more patience than I originally estimated and she was more than willing to stand and pretend she was likewise as interested in the 10 varieties of granola. What we had was a good old-fashioned bulk food cold war with neither party willing to flinch but both willing to die for their respective, futile cause.

    After a short time, my girlfriend approached and asked if we could leave.

    “No,” I said. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m fascinated by these carob covered almonds.”

    “What the hell are you up to?” My girlfriend knew something wasn’t right.

    “Nothing. I’m not leaving this area. Ever!” I said loud enough for The Covert Chipmunk to hear.

    “Stop being an ass and let’s get out of here,” my girlfriend said as she pushed me.

    I knew it was do or die if I was to save your merchandise, Mr. Mackay.

    “But that woman is robbing this store blind with her sampling!” I shouted.

    I had launched the first WMD. Hostilities were on.

    The woman stared at me with all the hatred a freeloader could muster. Although she said nothing as I was being hauled away by my girlfriend, I knew it wasn’t over. As I looked back I could see she was invading the object of her desire – the Medjool dates.

    A few minutes later, we were sitting in the front of the store enjoying our Yerba Matte tea when I saw the old woman standing in line. Of course, she was not buying dates but rather a single water for a measly 49 cents. Then the woman did something completely incomprehensible. She walked over to a pile of reusable shopping bags and casually helped herself to one.

    I immediately went back to DEFCON 5. I wanted warheads armed and all birds in the air! Fortunately, one of your security guards was standing right next to me.

    “Did you see that woman?” I asked him. She’s taking a shopping bag. She’s robbing you guys blind! My girlfriend buried her head in her hands, regretting the notion of taking me and Jack Daniels to your store. But I was undaunted.

    “Do something!”

    But your guard looked right at me and said, “I didn’t see her take anything, sir.”

    “What? I saw her, man. I also saw her foraging through your bulk bins like some demented, AARP card-carrying rodent.”

    Regardless of this additional intelligence, the sentry simply smiled and walked away. The woman departed your store free of any consequence.

    So here’s my question as a loyal shopper: What is the exact age when it becomes acceptable to enter your store and help yourself to whatever you want?

    Please let me know when I can expect to get this awesome senior discount.

    Very truly yours,

    Gary Huerta

    • Try Sprouts much better and cheaper than Whole Foods. I sold all my stock and wrote to the asshole who is the CEO about all his comments on every subject. Won’t walk into another whole foods a long as I am alive. Steal away I say.

    • Haha, Madge! I love it! When I started out writing this piece, I did a little research on the CEO. He is a bit of a tool but he’s done a couple of good things. I wouldn’t call naming Obama as a fascist and wanting to subvert unions as some of the good. But they do make a good breakfast burrito!

    • They are very environmental friendly and that is good for those who go there. After he makes one of his asinine comments he always says it won’t affect his customers or stock holders. I wrote him a letter after the last comment and his PR wrote back with all the great things they do. But didn’t do it for me. Sold Whole Food and bought Annie’s and now they just opened a Sprout’s in WLA which is just as good and cheaper than Whole Foods.

    • I think you nailed it. The company does some good things and makes an effort to raise awareness in the right places despite what the executive leadership says.

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