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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Are you suffering the Whole Foods effect?

So I've been dying to tell you about my trip to the Food Co-Op the other night. Members can take a guest (guests can't shop though) so Sarah very kindly took me along. It was all it promised to be and more. I can't even begin to go into the details but it is a green geek's paradise, more or less. Silos heaving with grains, nuts and pulses, shelves bowing under the weight of every conceivable herb and spice, organic, locally reared meats aplenty and an array of organic fruit and veg to match any farmers market. I could have spent hours wandering the aisles fondly caressing the produce but it was 9.30 on a school night so we kept it brief.

About halfway round we came to the beauty aisle. I'm in the market for new shampoo and conditioner but every eco-friendly variety I've tried seems to turn my hair to straw. I mentioned this to Sarah and we soon found ourselves in conversation with another member who recommended the Nature's Gate shampoo. We thanked her and bent to check it out. "Hm, contains parabens," said Sarah. This was no good since, per Ideal Bite, parabens are hormone disruptors, no good for mummies and babies. Since I couldn't buy anyway this was no problem, but I use a Nature's Gate body lotion so spent the rest of the shop worrying about whether, unbeknownst to me, the unscented, petroleum-free lotion I'd got when Dot was born contained parabens I'd been unwittingly transmitting to her via breastmilk all along. I figured I'd check when I got home.

When you're done you have to check out twice. You'll recall it's staffed by members. As such, our first cashier was a woman with dreadlocks down to her butt; the second a middle-aged man in a business suit and wide-striped silk tie. You pile your groceries into (reused) cardboard boxes on a big metal trolley and a member in a luminous orange waistcoat walks you home, waits while you unpack, then takes the trolley (and I suppose the boxes) back to the store. It was totally great. It will be lethal once we've joined. I'm hoping to do it Monday or Wednesday night this week.

As soon as I got home, I checked the body lotion (I figure I don't have enough on my plate these days so I better obsess over body lotion). And sure enough, there at the bottom of the label, something-or-other paraben. Bugger. Since I'd bought it in a a hardcore health food store I thought I was in the clear with that one (I call this the Whole Foods effect. You buy something in Whole Foods so you assume it's eco-and human-friendly so don't bother to check, much as a friend of mine assumed plastic bags from Whole Foods are ok because they're recyclable. They're not ok, though, ok? Still takes petrol to make them. Anyway I digress...)

So on an Ideal Bite tip I've just ordered this new paraben-free body lotion from Max Green Alchemy. I'll let you know how it is.

Oh, and I eventually picked up some paraben-free Burt's Bees shampoo in the health food store tonight. Washed my hair with it (the new plan is to do this at night to maximise quality Dot time in the mornings) and though it had that washing-up liquid feel in the shower, the hair as of now looks surprisingly glossy. Let's see how it holds up to a hard day at the office. Night.

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