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Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience 794

__roo writes "Many Americans get riled up about creationists and climate change deniers, but lap up the quasi-religious snake oil at Whole Foods. It's all pseudoscience — so why are some kinds of pseudoscience more equal than others? That's the question the author of this article tackles: 'From the probiotics aisle to the vaguely ridiculous Organic Integrity outreach effort ... Whole Foods has all the ingredients necessary to give Richard Dawkins nightmares. ... The homeopathy section has plenty of Latin words and mathematical terms, but many of its remedies are so diluted that, statistically speaking, they may not contain a single molecule of the substance they purport to deliver.' He points out his local Whole Foods' clientele shop at a place where a significant portion of the product being sold is based on simple pseudoscience. So, why do many of us perceive Whole Foods and the Creation Museum so differently?"
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Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28, 2014 @06:18PM (#46371121)

    As a person with many dietary restrictions, I shop at Whole Foods for their Wheat/Milk alternatives. Not everyone shopping at Whole Foods is covering their babies in fish oil.

  • by ottothecow ( 600101 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @06:21PM (#46371149) Homepage
    I always assumed that the aisle of pseudoscience homeopathy crap was just there because it was super high profit margin and likely to be purchased by the customers who will go out of their way to seek out organic products.

    Personally, I shop at whole foods because it is on the way home and it has significantly better selection and quality of produce than the Jewel (which is slightly more out of the way).

    I really hoped this article (when I read it a week ago, thanks slashdot) would have been about some of the questionable restrictions they place on their food. They have decided that nitrates/nitrites are "evil" and must be such they won't sell anything that uses sodium nitrate (instacure #1) as an ingredient. Of course, without nitrates, you won't have bacon or a whole host of other cured meat products (such as many hams/salamis/etc). How does Whole Foods get around this? They figure out how to make bacon using celery juice so that they can say "No Added Nitrates" despite the fact that bacon made this way can actually have higher nitrate concentrations than bacon made with curing salt (and can taste a little funny since who wants bacon made with celery?).

    Either they need to admit that nitrates are OK to eat, or they need to stop selling things that defeat the point of their own restriction.

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @06:37PM (#46371341) Homepage

    Most of these consumers are not zealots, whereas most creationists are zealots.

    No, but they are wasting their money on this stuff. Sure, it's their money, but the sellers are con artists and shouldn't be allowed to prey on them.

  • Re:God (Score:5, Informative)

    by ottothecow ( 600101 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @06:41PM (#46371415) Homepage
    For the record--the Dr. Bronner's people write some crazy shit on their soap bottles...but they make a damn good product.

    The crazy ramblings are part of the charm (especially the lemon and vaseline birth control method). I think they just keep it on the bottles in memory of the company's founder.

    If you don't want the crazy, you can buy bars of Kirk's castille soap at whole foods as well, although I don't think they have a concentrated liquid like Dr. Bronner's. Dr Bronner's is a great travel soap--you can do laundry with it, wash your body or hair (if you are not picky about how it rinses out), and even brush your teeth (if you are brave). I spent a month in Europe with just a little bottle of that super-concentrated stuff...and the big bottle I filled it with is still going strong.

  • Re:God (Score:5, Informative)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @07:06PM (#46371653) Homepage Journal

    The soap is great. I especially appreciate the scents used. For whatever reason, most of the scents used in nearly anything smell horrific to me but bronners actually smells like what it says on the bottle.

    Some fear the price, mostly because they don't realize it is very strong soap and will last forever.

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @07:16PM (#46371725) Homepage

    what salt is not sea salt? Do you think "non sea salt" just spontaneously appeared. All salt are from evaporated sea !!!!!


    The point is: Some of it evaporated before we started dumping toxic crap into the oceans. OK?

  • Re:God (Score:3, Informative)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Friday February 28, 2014 @07:28PM (#46371865)

    "b. You're assuming everyone on Slashdot thinks God is a myth. Rather than just claiming, "God is a myth," tell us why he's a myth."

    The same reason as the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and Mother Goose.

    They are related.

  • Re:God (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28, 2014 @07:47PM (#46372027)

    Dr. Bronner's soap is first rate. The peppermint one makes your balls tingle.

  • Re:God (Score:5, Informative)

    by HiThere ( 15173 ) <charleshixsn@ea r t h l i n> on Friday February 28, 2014 @08:35PM (#46372363)

    So you actually believe that Moses parted the Red Sea? Even many religious Christians (and, I assume, Jews) are more reasonable than that. The area where they crossed appears to have been a tidal swamp. Waiting for low tide is hardly miraculous...and many who saw it would not think it a miracle. (Perhaps some from inland would...but tides went a bit up the Nile, so that's a bit dubious.)

    I suspect that if some people saw something that others reported as an act of the hand of God, and others didn't accept as such, I'd be inclined to be dubious. Frequently even things that are widely accepted are quite dubious. I tend to class most religious miracle reports together with alien abductions...if I see actual evidence I might be interested, but back when I was looking seriously I never saw anything that didn't have a reasonable explanation...though often the reports were sufficiently lacking in details that I had to satisfy myself with "not proven".

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @10:47PM (#46373083) Homepage

    and the anti-GMO crowd wants poor brown people to starve

    No, we want some assurances they've done real safety testing instead of just assuming, and that if those 'poor brown people' get food aid, they're not beholden to a multinational which says they can't keep seeds to grow their own crops next year and be able to feed themselves, and we don't want the option of buying non-GMO foods destroyed because of cross-pollination which contaminates crops which aren't supposed to have that in it.

    Your desire to characterize it as you have doesn't substitute for facts.

  • Re:God (Score:5, Informative)

    by Altrag ( 195300 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @03:37AM (#46374239)

    Obviously, that means that they exist outside of that 4 dimensional spacetime

    Hardly obvious, as another poster has pointed out.

    What I can't accept, though, is a violation of the conservation of energy and mass.

    You can accept extradimensional magical beings but you can't accept the possibility that they have the ability to exceed our known laws of physics? Not to mention the conservation laws become a lot more tangled when you start talking about invisible dimensions -- a reduction in energy in our 4 dimensions could potentially be compensated for by an increase in the 7th dimension and still conform to conservation of energy. The fact that conservation of energy so far appears to hold entirely within our visible 4 dimensions is something to ponder in itself if we accept that additional invisible dimensions exist.

    Is love real?

    Yes. Its a biochemical reaction. We've decided to name that reaction 'love.' It exists because its defined to exist.

    Is the truth real?

    As far as anyone can tell, yes. Things happen in exactly one way. Any individual person may not have the full information regarding how it happened and thus we all have our own interpretations of the 'truth', but even accepting things like the many worlds hypothesis, in any particular time line there is exactly one truth as defined to be the real physical changes that took place in the universe at the exact time in question, irregardless of who saw what. Even quantum mechanics and its inherent randomness doesn't really change the fact (you can define truth as always-past and thus all wave states have collapsed into a specific truth, or you can define truth as including the present in which case 'is in a superposition' simply becomes part of the description of the truth. In both cases, a specific definition of the truth is still available.)

    here is no particle in the standard model for them

    There's no particle in the standard model for water or ice cream sandwiches either. This is a pointless argument. The standard model describes only the most fundamental building blocks. Love and truth are complex interactions between countless particles. (Though to be fair, there IS a 'truth' particle in the standard model.. it just got renamed to 'top' somewhere along the way. But of course that's obviously not the type of truth we're talking about!)

    As a scientist

    I sincerely hope you're only an armchair scientist. Mixing up standard model particles with abstract concepts like love is a leap of logic even most crackpots wouldn't dare make.

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