November 23, 2017

Open letter to Whole Foods: The hipsters demand action

The Whole Foods taco bar used to be one of modern society’s last remaining factions of controlled anarchy;

Within the beast that is Whole Foods, there lurked the lone island of freedoms unknown to the rest of the store, like an ancient Amazonian tribe being discovered in the middle of Manhattan, a refuge from the chaos and price gouging of the ways of the big city.

Holding my fruit cup and boxed water, I approach the kiosk with the comfort and ease of someone approaching their old friend, one they feel completely at ease with and know everything about.

At the counter, I noticed the menu had been changed — a change I assumed was cosmetic only. I would soon be proven incorrect.

My typical order — Barbacoa, sour cream, guacamole, topped with onions and salsa verde — has proven to be one of the most consistent and solid pillars in my life. While most things come and go, change and adapt, the Order has remained the same, unchanged by the impartial passage of time.

I spoke my order with the eloquence like a politician who had practiced a speech many times before, these words had left my mouth many times, no more practice needed.

What followed was a series of incidents, all seemingly benign at first, but added together created a situation rife with chaos and cilantro:

When I requested the Barbacoa, I was told, “we have to go in the back and make it now, it’ll take a few minutes.” Naturally, I was en route to work and already ten minutes late when putting the order in, so I conceded defeat, and switched the order to the carnitas.

After the carnitas were slathered onto the shells, I was told that sour cream was no longer an option, and the guacamole, once listed as a normal topping, free of charge, was now being hawked for an extra $1.50. The prices, once attainable by even a modest retailer’s salary, were now being geared to the more affluent; people who use actual belts for their pants instead of a shoe string.

However, I grumbled and accepted the additional charge. A taco without sour cream is fine, a taco with guac is fine, but without both of them? The taco quickly becomes inedible, too coarse for a meal, more suitable for an adhesive used for construction.

I took the tacos from the vendor and quickly checked out. A whopping $7.50 for these two tacos, only a few days ago the meal would have been $6.00 and covered in additional toppings, all at no extra price. Now the taco stand of my dreams, along with so many other people’s, now exists as a thing of the past, the memory of it continually growing fainter until it completely fades away from the public subconscious- much like the memories of freedom gradually disappear from the public in wake of a despotic takeover of a nation, this luxury now no longer exists.

I had always felt about the taco stand similarly to the great line from Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim: “He existed through me, and after all it is only through me that he exists for you”. In this case, however, the “he” of the quote is the once magnificent taco stand, now crippled by its own success, a taco shell of its former self.

As society nears on the brink of war, cholera and famine run rampant over the globe, and daytime television exits its second golden age, it is paramount to the general public to retain the little pleasures. Bring back the culinary anarchy that was the Whole Foods taco stand, in its original form.

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