America’s “Healthiest” Grocery Store

Apparently, when you’re America’s Healthiest Grocery store you need to alert the world on your brown paper bags. Image

The Pollan article I discussed last week stressed that if a food is making bold health claims on the packaging, chances are there are healthier things to eat. I have a feeling that this remains true with grocery stores as well, especially considering that statement is marked as a registered trademark meaning that it is not a fact. It is just a marketing ploy, a tagline. 

The marketing doesn’t stop there. All sides of this bag are covered with bold claims and justification for all the money the consumer just spent on overpriced groceries. Image

What better justification could there be than “improving lives with every purchase”? (Again another registered trademark and not an actual fact) Whole Foods is all about convincing the consumer they made the right choice including emphasizing the vitamins in bell peppers, for example, as well as their ability to “power [you] up”. If the health values of the food itself isn’t enough, they also stress the social benefits to shopping at Whole Foods aka “better wages and working conditions, environmental responsibility and community development”.

On the other side, Whole Foods goes a step farther. After justifying your previous action of purchasing groceries at Whole Foods, they suggest a few small lifestyle changes including trying new, exotic vegetables, adding enhancers to your water (plain water is just SO pedestrian these days), and using the butchers as meat consultants.

ImageAdditionally, this side makes the bold, mathematical claim that “healthy=convenient” aka health and convenience are interchangeable, especially at Whole Foods. This is a promotion for their prepared foods which are inherently more processed than the raw ingredients, and thus probably less healthy.

The final side proves once and for all that “healthy” is the most important message Whole Foods is trying to convey to their consumers with the statements “healthy tastes good” and “health starts here”.

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Whole Foods is trying to view this “health” holistically by indicating that in addition to their “health” food, they also promote health socially and environmentally.

In this day and age, what does health really mean? Is it medical, social, environmental? Who constructs “health” and what it means to be “healthy”? Is there any room for variability? Is healthy just a marketing ploy or something more?

In this case, it seems to be a marketing ploy especially because registered trademark symbols cover the bag. I’ll stick with Pollan’s idea. I’ll buy my red peppers from wherever I like because they will still have vitamin C and “power [me] up” but I don’t need to announce this to the world via my shopping bag.

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