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Originally published April 27 2007

Whole Foods, funny math and the five dollar avocado (satire)

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

I love Whole Foods grocery stores. I can't seem to leave the place without spending at least two hundred dollars on health food. Interestingly, that's only about one bag full of groceries from a typical Whole Foods store.

The last time I visited, I ended up buying a hundred dollars worth of raw food snacks. Thanks to Whole Foods, my monthly food bill now nearly exceeds my house payment! But I love every bite of it, and if it wasn't for this natural grocery chain being in Phoenix, I think I would literally have to move to California or Boulder, Colorado just to get near one.

But don't walk around blindly in a Whole Foods supermarket, buying up everything in sight under the assumption that it's all healthy and good for you. As much as I love the Whole Foods stores, the number of products they sell that contain questionable ingredients is rather surprising.

Much of the "natural" snack food section, for example, is made up of products with hidden MSG in the form of yeast extract. This ingredient is used by all sorts of natural-sounding food companies to enhance the taste of their products without having to list "monosodium glutamate" on the label. Watch out for this hidden excitotoxin. It's in thousands of natural foods products, and many of them are sold at Whole Foods. The store describes itself as a "hydrogenated free zone" (meaning they don't carry products with hydrogenated oils, and that's a good thing), but there are plenty of other toxins found on its shelves.

That's just the beginning of the Whole Foods warnings. I recently purchased some potato salad from their deli and was later horrified to find myself chewing on a piece of bacon. Who puts bacon in the potato salad sold at a "healthy" grocery store anyway? There must have been some sort of anti-vegetarian food pervert hanging out behind the deli, tossing random slices of meat into the various dishes, just waiting for vegetarian-minded customers like me to come along and cough up a bite.

Needless to say, I ended up throwing away four dollars worth of Whole Foods potato salad. That equates to approximately three bites, since most food products sold at Whole Foods are marked up somewhere near the per-ounce price of precious metals. On a per-ounce basis, eating silver coins is probably cheaper than eating at the Whole Foods deli.

The salt that shrunk my head

Other selections from the deli also listed yeast extract right on the ingredients list! To avoid all the bacon and yeast extract, I decided to buy some fresh tortilla soup made by apparently famous sisters who are producing soup under the Whole Foods brand. I bought a large container of the soup, took it home, warmed it up in a pan (I don't use microwaves), and took a sip.

The blast of salt caused my lips and half my face to shrivel into a human prune that looked like a shrunken head from the Jivaro tribe in Equador. It required two liters of fresh water to rehydrate my face back to a semi-normal shape. (I'm still ugly from the incident and will now stick to radio appearances only.) It seemed there was enough salt in that container to kill a horse. Sure, the ingredient was listed on the product, but since the food was made locally, it had no nutrition facts label. If there had been such a label, the line for sodium might have read: sodium 25,000% - enough to power chemical rocket motors at NASA.

At this point, I was pretty sure that the anti-vegetarian food pervert who spiked my potato salad with bacon also had control of the Whole Foods salt supply and was madly dashing about the kitchen, shirking mounds of sodium into recipes that otherwise would have been perfectly fine to eat.

Funny math at Whole Foods

Fortunately, I also purchased a container of fresh fruit, which helped counteract the salt assault of the soup. (Kind of a tongue twister there. Say it five times fast: "Salt assault of the soup..."). The price of that fruit, notably, was enough to pay an entire crew of Southern California agricultural workers a week's wages. As far as I can tell, it's the most expensive fruit in the world. British royalty don't even pay this much for fruit.

Here's the best part: I actually found organic avocados at Whole Foods priced at (this is not a typo): 2 for $5 each

Now let's think about this for a minute. Two avocados for five dollars each. Isn't that the same as two avocados for ten dollars!?

Geesh! Why all the funny math?

Why doesn't Whole Foods just say 2 for $10? Because nobody in their right mind would pay five bucks for an avocado. Would you?

I got to thinking, why don't we expand this fuzzy math to other products? How about cans of soup sold at "5 for $2 each!"

Or, perhaps, gasoline: "10 gallons for $3 each!"

If you do this exercise enough times, you quickly realize that the formula of X for $Y each means the same thing regardless of the X.

In other words, the following pricing statements all describe the exact same price for an avocado:

1 for $5
2 for $5 each
5 for $5 each
10 for $5 each

See my point? The "X" part of this statement is meaningless. It all comes down to the use of the word "each," of course. The "each" makes the "X" irrelevant.

If this is bringing back groggy, half-drunken memories from your college entrance exams, don't fret. Just consider this: If a woman bought five avocados at Whole Foods and is on a train traveling East at thirty-five miles per hour because she could no longer afford to hire a cab, and there's another train traveling West at twenty-seven miles per hour...

Ah, never mind. Word problems and healthy food don't mix.

I have a message for Whole Foods: Just tell us how much the freakin' food costs, okay? Don't make us have to decode your little math brainteasers in order to arrive at a per-item dollar figure. Shopping at Whole Foods should be a health experience, not a math experience.

I still love the store, mind you, and I can personally handle the math requirements. But that's only because I eat a lot of avocados, and they're good for brain health.

My overall view of Whole Foods? Two thumbs up. Way up. This store rocks. Especially if you own shares of the corporation and get a cut of the profit on those avocados.

(Disclaimer: I own no shares in the Whole Foods company, but given how much money I spend there, I'm pretty sure that NOT owning shares is about the dumbest financial decision I ever made. Hopefully, YOU own shares in Whole Foods, and you're earning some dividends off my repeat purchase of fresh produce priced like gold.)

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