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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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  • Class definitions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @06:25PM (#46371187) Homepage

    Creation museum: customers tend to be poor, relatively uneducated, and don't understand basic science.
    Whole Foods: customers are almost exclusively well-off, expensively educated, and don't understand basic science.

    Everyone's stupid about something.

  • by gQuigs ( 913879 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @06:28PM (#46371235) Homepage

    It's the entire existance of the Creation Museum. To be fair I would like to see them get rid of that one aisle.

    Whole Foods is doing a lot of really good initiatives, see:
    http://www.wholefoodsmarket.co... [wholefoodsmarket.com]

    And they don't just say blindly yes God said so to questions like "Is Organic better for you?:
    http://www.wholefoodsmarket.co... [wholefoodsmarket.com]

    And probiotics after taking antibiotics makes logical sense.... I remember a study that showed that our natural bacteria wasn't at the same level 1 year after taking antibiotics (please don't use this as an excuse to not take antibiotics). If we have the right probiotics available to us is a different story. My wife just got antibiotics and the hospital recommened probiotics...

    *Disclaimer: I own a small bit of Whole Foods stock. I'm sure this post will greatly increase it's value....

  • Re:God (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @06:36PM (#46371333)

    Homeopathy is bigger in France than it is in the US. So if you're going to make snarky comments about Americans, be sure to throw in a few about the French as well.

  • Re:God (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mwehle ( 2491950 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @06:41PM (#46371417) Homepage
    Yeah, I've been enjoying the produce for years while managing to ignore the hype and tolerating the faux-personal interaction of the checkers. I'm not sure that "many of us perceive Whole Foods and the Creation Museum so differently" as far as belief systems and evaluation of empirical evidence are concerned. Many of us go to Whole Foods for the food.
  • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @06:51PM (#46371511)

    Go to Safeway or any other supermarket and take a look around. Or do you really think that post cereals promote heart health? Hell, it took a law suite to stop "vitamin" water from claiming health benefits from their sugar water.


    I go to Whole Foods regularly...but I don't give a shit about whether something is "organic". The produce is better, for the most part...both in diversity and in quality. The meat...holy balls, the MEAT...it's incredibly tasty. I don't get the grass fed beef (I find it tough) but the regular stuff. Yes, it's expensive, but if you want a NY strip that's literally almost 2 inches thick and will taste better than what you can find at most restaurants, Whole Foods is the place. Oh, and yes...we are yuppie DINK scum with both foodie inclinations and the money to indulge them...and for that Whole Foods is like a playground.

    On the other hand, things like sugar, aluminum foil, paper products...we get those at Giant. I don't feel like paying extra just to have my paper towels be gluten free. (Yes, that's an exaggeration, but just barely.) But that brings to mind another thing...if you're gluten-sensitive, gluten-intolerant, allergic to gluten, or just one of those assholes who thinks that gluten is like eating AIDS, Whole Foods is a much better place to look. Though it does get out of hand sometimes; I watched a woman go totally nuts at a guy in the beer and wine section (diagonally opposite from the meat section within the store) over the fact that they didn't carry (I shit you not) "gluten-free bacon." Which of course leads into the fact that Whole Foods caters to that niche for the self-entitled, of which that screaming cunt is just one excellent example.

    But yeah...try their steak sometime. WOW, is it good :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28, 2014 @07:21PM (#46371787)
    As a celiac, it's been a mixed blessing though - on one hand getting gluten-free foods has gotten insanely easier in the last 5 years. On the other hand "Gluten-Friendly" has started popping up everywhere where people want to cater to the fad, but don't want the work of having to deal with people with real diseases.
  • Re:God (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mooingyak ( 720677 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @07:23PM (#46371801)

    In the Old Testament, the Jewish people, while wandering in the desert, after seeing the parting of the Red Sea and all the miracles Moses brought down on Egypt, continue to fall away from God. He even had an actual presence in their Temple, and would show up as a flaming column from time to time. Nonetheless, they would turn to idols and he'd have to "smite" them from time to time.

    So, yes, even though literally in the presence of God, some people don't believe. Odd, that.

    Kind of requires you to accept the Old Testament as 100% historically accurate though, which seems a tad problematic to me.

  • Re:Food. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cbhacking ( 979169 ) <.moc.oohay. .ta. ... isiurc_tuo_neeb.> on Friday February 28, 2014 @08:14PM (#46372219) Homepage Journal

    It has nothing to do with organicness. It's simply that produce which is grown "organically" typically has a much shorter shelf life (this is not to say that the ways mass-market produce gets an extended shelf life are good, mind you) and consequently must be picked ripe and sold immediately. Mass-market produce is picked quite unripe and transported long distances, "ripening" (to the extent that they can) in transit, in storage, or simply on the shelves (or, considering the unripeness of a lot of what's on the shelves, on *my* shelves at home). That's what causes the taste difference.

    If you don't believe me, go look up some studies. People have done double-blind taste tests, and found that the "organicness" of food was undetectable, while picking it ripe and eating it quickly made all the difference. Or heck, go find out for yourself! There's almost certainly a farmer's market near where you live, it's probably cheaper than Whole Foods, and you'll find it's just as good.

  • Re:Class definitions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Theaetetus ( 590071 ) <theaetetus.slashdotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday February 28, 2014 @08:17PM (#46372241) Homepage Journal

    Creation museum: customers tend to be poor, relatively uneducated, and don't understand basic science. Whole Foods: customers are almost exclusively well-off, expensively educated, and don't understand basic science.

    Everyone's stupid about something.

    Creation museum: customers tend to believe in everything the museum present.
    Whole Foods: 95% of customers don't even set foot in the homeopathy aisle, and are just there because they have fresher and better looking produce, locally-farmed meat, wild caught fish, fancy cheeses, etc.

    I guess the article writer is stupid about believing that the 5% in the homeopathy aisle represent the majority.

  • Re:God (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Oligonicella ( 659917 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @08:44PM (#46372431)
    When you have to stoop to bolding normal, conversational phrases as evidence of irrationality, you've already lost your argument.
  • Re:Harm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @08:45PM (#46372435) Homepage Journal

    To be fair, the parents who cart the kid to the doctor for every sneeze and to the hospital for a bumped head aren't doing their kids any favors either.

  • Re:God (Score:5, Interesting)

    by manu0601 ( 2221348 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @10:41PM (#46373063)
    But homeopathy secret is the placebo effect, and that is real science.When french drug agency allowed homeopathy a long time ago, they wrote that it helped though the placebo effect while having less side effects than real drugs.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"