The 26 People You’ll See at Every Whole Foods
Everyone needs food to survive, but only a small, sometimes-shameless segment of the population needs Whole Foods to survive. You probably call this group “upper middle-class white people,” and that’s probably accurate. But beyond that monolith of near-certain alabastrousness, Whole Foods’ loyal patrons have all sorts of subtypes -- and even if you didn’t realize it at the time, you’ve definitely encountered all of ‘em.
So if you find yourself wandering the aisles of your local store in search of the “right” quinoa salad to pair with your rustic spaghetti squash, take a look around. These are the people you’ll see at every Whole Foods.
The "Whole Paycheck" Joker"The thing is, the place is called Whole Foods, see? But the food costs so much, I think it should really be called... hello? Guys? Is anyone even listening to me?"
The Neophyte Who Wandered In By AccidentThinking it's just like Publix, this poor doddering soul will circumnavigate the entire place looking for a brand they recognize. When they inevitably fail, they will slowly trace their steps back out, then just buy that Count Chocula from Walgreens.
The Holistic Supplement StalwartLegally, his name is Steve, but he prefers Loki, and the way this delicate creature goes through rose hip & St. John's wort will make you question whether Western medicine even exists at all. (It does; Loki doesn't trust it.)
The Lunatic Who Thinks the Food Quality Isn’t High EnoughOh, at your favorite farmers' market, the heirloom radishes are actually still covered with the nutrient-rich red clay native to WHAT ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT BRO?
The Guy at the Meat Counter Who’s in WAY Over His HeadThis lamentable sap knows that a nice cut of meat will make a big impression when he hosts his girlfriend's parents for dinner next week. Unfortunately, he has no idea how to purchase one, and is currently deliberating over how many grams of "sirloin, beef" are in a whole steak.
The Employees Who Are So Knowledgeable & Friendly They Make You Want to LeaveFive minutes ago you asked the nearest employee where to get olive oil, and this green-aproned angel has been talking to you about the various pressing methods he learned during his olive-orchard apprenticeship in Greece ever since. He's not even trying to upsell you! He just cares that much.
The Guy Wandering the Aisles on His PhoneDespite the fact that this is a supermarket, and not the spacious interior of his Daewoo, this dude has no qualms about staring blankly at sea salt pita chips & fingering hand-picked eggplants while jabbering away. The conversation is usually way too personal, way too loud, or both. It's almost guaranteed that he leaves without actually buying anything.
The Hippie-Dippy "Hands-Off" ParentAlso known as "the breeder," this idealistic Mom/Dad sees the aisles as a playground and other shoppers as willing participants in the rearing of their expansive brood. "It takes a village," they say. "We don't like to tell them 'no'; there's enough negativity in the world." Super! But this is not a village, and all four of your children are playing full-contact tag in the cheese section. New rule: if you are in a place where havarti costs more per pound than lobster, your children need to be leashed or left home.
The Free-Sample SavantLike a hummingbird, he flits from stand to stand, gathering up a chunk of Jarlsberg here, a dab of red-pepper hummus there. He's been known to assemble entire meals this way. Similar to Phone Talker, he often has no intention of purchasing anything.
The Evangelical VegetarianShe loves Beyond Meat's Beefy Crumbles so hard, she got their logo tattooed on her foot. MorningStar bacon is OK, Quorn meatballs, sure. She tells you all this by the hemp soap. Most of these have to do with "more energy," which she evidently uses to seek new converts.
The Crunchiest Girl You've Ever SeenIt doesn't matter where you are, or what time of year it is -- if you set foot inside a Whole Foods, you'll see her. Sometimes she'll be wearing her Oberlin hoodie; other times, tights with paint stains on the butt. Her cart is full of infinity kale, her hobo bag contains an iPhone 3s, Burt's Bees, and Birkenstocks (she enjoys shopping barefoot). It's entirely possible you are in love with her.
The Girl Wearing $400 of LululemonWith a perennial ponytail and a headband headache that never quite goes away, she is a lean, mean, green juice-guzzling machine. Whether she owns non-workout clothes is anyone's guess, but her bitter, unspoken rivalry with Crunchy Girl is a scientific fact. Make the mistake of referring to SoulCycle as "that spin class," and she will gut you like an extremely expensive, locally sourced lake fish.
The Clipboard Petitioner"Hi, do you have a moment to talk about undersea wind farming for charity? Seriously, this will totally be a discussion, and not just me lobbing dubious claims at you about a topic you have no interest in for 12-15 minutes. Sign here, please?"
The “Can You Believe This Place?!” GuyUncle to many and Father to none, this middle-aged bloke just cannot wrap his head around a store that would charge $17 for apple cider. Are they nuts?! This has to be a mistake. Easily identified by his scoffing head-shake.
The Salad-Bar SuckerThe bamboozle goes one of two ways: either he doesn't realize he's paying by weight, and heaps 9lbs of Thai dumplings into the cardboard carton; or he doesn't realize that despite coming from the "salad" section, Thai dumplings are not a particularly healthy choice. Sometimes, the bamboozle goes both ways, and he buys 3,000 calories of Thai dumplings for $27.
The Squatter Who Uses the Dining Area Like a Coffee ShopHe used to hang out in coffee shops, but now the baristas in town recognize his slothy chicanery as soon as they spot his lazy beanie. Then he found the Whole Foods dining area, where the Wi-Fi is strong, the baristas are non-existent, and all the employees are too nice to ask him why he's been there for nine hours without buying anything.
The Super-Rich Woman Who Literally Could Not Care Less About the Price TagsYou know that part at the end of Entourage, when Ari gets the call from the studio exec offering him a job that would make him more powerful than he could ever have imagined? Yeah, so this woman either is that, is married to that, or is just completely unfamiliar with the going rates for raw cauliflower platters.
The Guy Who’s Just There for the Girl in $400 of LululemonHe knows every trick in the book, which he owns in hardcover, softcover, and on Kindle.
The People Who Are on a DateAfter navigating the salad bar and its many perils, they retired to the dining area to discuss how off-beat and hilarious it is to go to Whole Foods on a Tinder date. Depending on the quantity of Thai dumplings consumed, the outing may end in some heavy petting by the BPA-free water bottle display.
The Guy Who’s There to Tell People He's Not Dumb Enough to Shop There"Ha, look at these morons. Don't they know that this place is crazy-expensive? I would never get groceries here. Sure, my only alternative is a Stop & Shop, like, 30 minutes from my house, and most items there are just slightly cheaper, but who cares? It's not like I have any idea what 'opportunity cost' means!"
The Aggressive Bag-Shamer"Um... are you serious? That's just three items. Are you telling me you don't have a single reusable tote bag like this that you can use? No you can't have it."
The Sourcing FetishistLike a foodie journalist, he knows the who/what/when/where/why/how of every single piece of gloriously local foodstuff in his basket, and is thrilled to tell the world about it on his Wordpress, FoodieJournalism.com. The celery? Picked just this morning at a farm in Otis, New York. The halibut? Ethically line-caught by the indigenous peoples of the St. Lawrence Seaway. He is very, very alone.
The Fresh-Out-of-College Bro Who Has Never Fed HimselfHe's pulling down a big-boy salary thanks to the financial services job he got through Chip's dad's friend, and has zero idea how to buy groceries. Whole Foods is like, a trustworthy place, right? After 45 wide-eyed minutes, he checks out with three different mustards, cereal, no milk, and six pre-made bento boxes.
The Beer Snob Broing Down With the Guy Behind the Brewshop CounterSeeking camaraderie in craft, he sees the poor bastard at the cash register as his knowing confidant. Why else would he hang out in the beer store spinning tales of about that Ninkasi he's been tracking? Sure, he doesn't have to be there, but that's what friendship is all about.
The Buy-Anything True Believer"What's that? Kumquat sausage? Is it good? What does it do? How much is it? I don't even care. Give it to me. Do you have more in the back?"
The Unreasonably Attractive CashierShe (or he! Whatever you're into!) is so damn sexy, you've been known to circle back for another trip through a rush-hour line if you didn't get directed to her numbered station the first time. Yes, of course you'll donate to Lyme disease research! Ask her if she's heard the one about Whole Paycheck!
Dave Infante is a senior writer for Thrillist Food & Drink. As long as they keep stocking the salad bar with Thai dumplings, he will continue to pretend they are salad. Follow @dinfontay on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.