In a time when America is focusing on healthy and nutritious food to combat obesity, Hyde Square will only benefit from the addition of Whole Foods to our community.
First, the people will still have choices. Stop & Shop and Whole Foods will only be a few blocks apart, and there are wonderful neighborhood grocerias in between.
Second, while some prices at Hi-Lo were lower than other markets, the sugar content of the pre-packaged food and drinks was higher than many bakeries.
Third, like it or not, national statistics show higher rates of obesity for minorities when compared to people of European descent. Jamaica Plain is rich in its community of Hispanic, African-American, Asian and other minorities. Our brothers and sisters of color have a 70 percent higher rate of being overweight. Whole Foods will offer better nutritional choices than Hi-Lo ever did.
Whole Foods isn’t a diet store and isn’t just for health nuts. Yes, it has some of the healthiest fruits and vegetables in the state, but it also has great baked goods. Even with that, the majority of its food has lower sugar, salt and chemicals than any pre-packaged food Hi-Lo ever sold.
Fourth, I have met staff from many nations, not just one or two, during my shopping experiences at Whole Foods. It appears that the company’s employment policies mirror its strong sense of reaching out to serve both local and global communities.
Fifth, Whole Foods is not moving into JP to fail. Concern about their prices ignores the fact that they have already done studies to determine what the community can afford and is willing to pay. If they are wrong, we will benefit. If they are right, everyone benefits.
Whole Foods makes significant contributions to the communities surrounding their stores, with donations to schools, food banks, etc. and by raising awareness of local and global needs on a daily basis. In 2000, Corporate Responsibility magazine selected Whole Foods Market as one of three businesses to receive the annual Business Ethics Award “for a broad-based commitment to customer, stockholder, employee, community, and environmental service.”
Sixth, I am not a crunchy granola consumer, nor an employee of Whole Foods. I am a 19-year resident who likes my sugar. But as a licensed, home-based educator, Whole Foods is my primary source of groceries. Why? Because conclusive studies show children benefit from low sugar and low salt food and that some produce is safer for everyone when organically grown.
Many Hi-Lo customers shopped there because the brands were familiar, and the staff spoke Spanish. But comfortable does not mean healthy, nor should it be the primary criteria for choosing a grocery store. Whole Foods will be comfortable, but more importantly, it will provide healthy choices for all of us and, most likely, attract new businesses to Hyde Square.
The writer is a certified Home Based Educator and proprietor of “A Joyful Noise.”