At Weekly Standard, "Living Like a Liberal: It’s Hard Work, Politicizing Your Whole Life." Here's a snippet:
If I am to be a good liberal ... I can no longer be a conservative child, harboring trace amounts of arsenic and ignorance. I have to think harder about what I am putting in my mouth. So no more Safeway for me. Krebs urges joining a food co-op. I check out the Maryland Food Collective, a “not-for-profit, worker-owned and operated organization” providing “quality, organic, seasonal, fair-trade, and healthy food” at affordable prices. I scout them using the Internet, because it’s 40 miles away, and I’m trying to drive less and “shrink my hoodprint” (whenever multiple Krebsian commandments are in conflict, I usually err on the side of laziness).
Most of their recipes have offputting names. Food incongruity dominates the menu: “Famous Nut Burgers,” “Peanut Stew,” “Rainy Day Chili of Doom.” But with a full price list, I set about making my fantasy liberal sandwich with my fantasy liberal fixings: Three Seed Healthy Loaf Bread (90 cents), baba ghanoush (60 cents), four slices of tofurkey (80 cents), hummus (60 cents), bean spread (60 cents), tzatziki (35 cents), three slices of soy cheese (90 cents), and “goddess dressing,” which is like Thousand Island to non-Gaia worshippers (25 cents). It comes out to five dollars on the nose, without tax. What corporatist chain would’ve thought of making fantasy sandwiches with fresh ingredients for a mere five bucks?
But unlike the so-called “sandwich artists” at Subway, with their functional uniforms and plastic gloves, the Maryland Food Collective posts staff photos. Here, workers often use the co-op “as a platform for politics and creative expression.” They look it, too. They don’t appear overly clean. The creative expressionists aren’t wearing gloves. There’s lots of facial hair and flannel and piercings. Their staff guide says they have to “wear sleeves that cover their armpits”—not very reassuring. Most look like they’re on sandwich-making work release from a prison-hospital’s heroin treatment program. I think, sandwiches-wise, I’ll go locavore and stick with the nearby Subway.
But I still have to grocery shop. Krebs suggests going with a green-conscious option, like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, even though the latter is currently being boycotted by some of its liberal base since its CEO did not support Obamacare. That doesn’t matter to me, though. Both stores are like Willy Wonka’s wonderland of progressive goodness.
At first, I am intimidated, as any rookie would be standing in front of the vast selection of sea salts at Whole Foods. But as I fill my cart, I quickly get my sea-salt legs beneath me by realizing the principle upon which liberal grocery-shopping turns. Liberals don’t just need their food to come comestible or tasty or biodynamic or free-range or locally grown. They—rather, we—need it to come with a philosophy and a parable. We need our food to tell a story. Why else would I pay 17 bucks for 32 ounces of McLure’s Pure Dark Amber Maple Syrup? Easy. Because it makes me feel better about my purchase to hear the story of how five generations of Granite State McLures have been overcharging for syrup that doesn’t taste as good as Aunt Jemima’s. In other words, our food should have the same affectations as the people eating it.
So as much time as I spend filling up my cart with blueberry muesli and tomato-basil artisan foccacia and gluten-free organic red quinoa, I spend even more time taking notes on the histories, core values, and Samarian proverbs on the labels, which, like my Tazo Brambleberry Herbal Infusion juice, promise “an enticing source of wonder, inspiration and antioxidants.”
By the time I get home with my liberal bounty, I feel more like I’ve been shopping at Holy Foods. I tried to be mindful of Krebs’s admonition to “think of plant-based foods—beans, grains, fruits, veggies, nuts—as your own personal source of solar power.” Sounds more like a source of wind power, if you know what I’m saying, but I feel good nonetheless. I feel clean surrounded by my Rosemary & Olive Oil Asiago and my Pomegranate Green Tea. Seeking further validation of the nobleness of my purchases, I follow another of Krebs’s directives and check out everything I buy at the Responsible Shopper guide at Greenamericatoday.org. I punch in “Whole Foods,” and that’s when the horror begins.
It says that Whole Foods has been less than transparent about the use of genetically modified organisms in store-brand products and has ignored shareholder requests for information on the use of toxic chemicals in products such as baby bottles. (Damn you, Whole Foods, if I’d wanted to poison my baby, I’d have stayed conservative.) Likewise, union organizing at Whole Foods met with opposition from management, “with reports of surveillance and termination of employees who solicit union participation.” That seems to be in direct violation of three of the seven core values that I saw posted in their store (delight, happiness, and partnership).