dinner gets easier and our wallets get lighter: whole foods comes to mississauga

Hallelujah! A Whole Foods Market has opened in Mississauga, not five minutes from where I live. My life is complete.

Most Canadians don't know Whole Foods; there's one in Toronto, one in Oakville (just west of Mississauga) and a few in Vancouver. And now there's a one in Square One, Mississauga Central. I've never lived right near a Whole Foods, even in New York. I should just go over there and give them my credit card right now.

For the conscious consumer, Whole Foods is a decidedly mixed bag. The CEO, John Mackey, is notoriously anti-union and has actually spoken out against public health care. On the other hand, the company is a very good employer (which doesn't excuse union-organizing obstruction, but is still important), has almost single-handedly normalized the market for organically grown produce, and its huge buying power has made a real difference on issues like the sale of live lobsters and cruelty-free personal care products.

Whole Foods is one more thing: my favourite store. (There are only two stores I actually enjoy; the other is Ikea.) About a month ago, driving into the Square One area for something else, I was amazed to see the familiar green logo. I actually called Allan from the parking lot to tell him a Whole Foods was being built.

Shopping at WF, you have to be careful: sticker-shock at the cash (US: register) is always a danger. We couldn't afford to do all our shopping there. But if I'm cooking a special dinner, it's the first place I want to go.

The Big Thing about WF, for me, is their prepared food. It is the best - and where I live, it's the only. Mississauga has many quality supermarkets, but prepared food to take home for dinner is limited to rotisserie chickens and microwaveable spaghetti and meatballs. A good selection of healthy, quality, freshly prepared food has been nonexistent. This has led us to cook more (good), but it's also led us, when we're overly busy or stressed, to eat more processed and convenience foods (not good). A nearby WF solves that.

WF is also a great place to meet a friend for lunch or to eat healthfully while you're out and about. We pack ourselves a selection from the food bar before we hit the road for a long drive, like down to New York for US Thanksgiving. "Salad bar" doesn't begin to describe.

I wrote about the WF dilemma in more detail here: are my hands clean, and can i stand to get them a little cleaner. I've never been very good at store-focused boycotts, and in the end, this one went nowhere for me. That's just the honest truth.

Feel free to read the old essay and leave comments on this thread if you like. If we're all talked out on these issues, that's fine, too.

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