What the Hell, Yo???? Part 2

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yesterday I stopped in Whole Paycheck on the way home from work. I don't usually shop there (the prices are prohibitive), but I was very short on time, and needed a couple of ingredients for a salad that I wanted to take to some friends' goodbye party. I dashed in, tried not to be run over by self-righteous yuppy mommies, and got what I needed. Actually there was a really cute moment at the fish/meat counter when the kid behind me in line looked at the shrimp and started chanting "Ebi.....eeeeebbbbbiiiiii.........eeebbbiii......ebi...."

Sadly, cute toddlers are not the point of the post.

Anyway, expensive shrimp (and less expensive but still overpriced produce) in hand, I got into the shortest line that I could find, which moved pretty quickly. At the register I noticed a little sign:

"Bring in any conventional food item, and we will switch it for a 365 Organics equivalent item."

Then, in MUCH smaller letters underneath it said:

"Conventional items will be donated to the Alameda County Food Bank."

Um..........what? Yuppies are too good for non-organic food, cuz it'll kill you, ya know, but poor people don't deserve "good" food?


Does that rub anyone else the wrong way?

(Not that folks should be feeling all virtuous for shopping there anyway. Just cuz their stuff is grown without chemicals does not mean that their suppliers can farm according to susstainable, bio-diverse theories. How could they, having to supply such vast quantities?)


Maggie Jochild said...

Yeah, it's a slim but important distinction you're making, Kat. Clearly this is designed to make everybody involved feel virtuous -- and it IS a good thing to donate to food banks -- but why not set up a food bank donation center there in the store, where Hell Foods products can go to them directly?

It's a step in the right direction, and I always have trouble knowing how to appreciate that without losing sight of the larger goal.

Equally interesting to me was the use of the term "conventional" to mean "not our kind of food", instead of nonorganic, grown commercially, etc. This is a very telling linguistic choice, I think. "Conventional" appeals to the part of us who want to "eclectic", "innovative", or whatever we define as not conventional, and clearly that store knows who their demographic is. At the same time, they cannot claim their products are actually completely organic or not grown by commercial agribusiness, but they avoid having to lie about the illusion that shopping there is completely different fron the Safeway choice by using language which sidesteps the issue entirely.

kat said...

It was very clearly a marketing gimmick "Buy our stuff! We'll even switch a lesser product for one of ours so you can be indoctrinated into buying our shit!!"

The little teeny letters used to mention the food bank indicate to me that it was an afterthought relating more to their need to get rid of all that "conventional" food than anything else.

But yes, why not frame it in a different way:
"We now feature a food donation center benefiting the Alameda County Food Bank. Donate and receive a free House Brand item."

It would accomplish the same thing, and yes, giving to food banks is a good thing, especially since the Alameda County one has indicated that demand for its services is up, and record numbers of people in the bay area are relying on them for groceries.

(whoa, sorry for the run-on sentence.)

Oh yes, the desire of Berkeley Yuppies to feel different, eclectic, alternative (, better than...). I really hadn't thought of that angle.

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