There, in Auntie Ruth’s in-box, was an e-newsletter from Whole Foods Market, a.k.a. the Whole Planet Foundation, touting its Austin, Texas, film premiere of Into Poverty: Living on One Dollar.
The trailer footage intones gently, &8220;I’ve read about poverty my whole life … in media, in school&8221;—and then, off go four middle-class college students to experience poverty, because 1 billion people live on $1 a day. The piano track was winsome. &8220;It’s not due to laziness that someone is poor. … They lack things we take advantage of every day.&8221; Not that these efforts aren’t important—some days Ruthie wonders wearily if each generation has an intrinsic need to recreate the wheel (or a documentary that captures yet again a well-captured truth), but Into Poverty reportedly makes the case for microfinancing.
No, really, Ruthie’s problem is with Whole Foods. She went off to see if she could survive on $1 a day at Whole Foods.
The salad and hot-food bar was crowded. Auntie Ruth took one of the green plastic plates and weighed it—that’s called the tare weight, which is subtracted from weight of the food to be heaped on it. At $8 a pound, roughly, how much food was Ruthie going to eat today with only $1 to spend?
The whole concept was upsetting, so Ruthie went for comfort food. She weighed it herself, and she counted it: roughly 10 pieces of macaroni, with cheese. It should come in at a buck.
When Whole Foods came to Sacramento, Aunt Ruth—ever supportive of the fact (and even the fictions) of food co-ops—was a little worried, even though the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op‘s parking lot was famously crowded. Likely, they would do fine, and they have. But recently, a Whole Foods opened in Folsom and, now, as reported by The Associated Press, another one is moving into Davis, a burg with too many grocery stores and a much more geographically constricted clientele. Like Sacramento, the Davis Food Co-op is one of the best-run food co-ops in the country, one of the largest and one of the oldest. Whole Foods should have opened a store somewhere else.
But that’s not what capitalists do, not even capitalists that promote sensitive movies by young people about poverty.
At the cash register, alas: $1.21 worth of mac ‘n’ cheese. Next day, Ruthie’ll have to curtail her macaroni by a third. Suck it up, girl. Suck it up.