In 2015, Whole Foods Market earned $536 million in net profits. By late 2016, the natural foods behemoth operated more than 450 stores. But in the summer of 2017, Amazon purchased the company for a whopping $13.7 billion. Now the organic supermarket pioneer is owned by one of the most brutally efficient and standardized retailers in the world, a corporation with a relentless focus on selling things cheaper and faster. Whole Foods has forever changed the natural foods business in the United States. But how did all this happen? The company launched in 1980 in Austin, Texas, in a very different time and place for natural foods than today’s Seattle where Amazon is based. Austin had carried the unofficial title of countercultural and progressive…

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Food and eating are everywhere: in the blogosphere, in bookstores, on TV and streaming platforms, in social media such as Instagram. Nearly all newspapers, large and small, have cooking sections or extra food editions, and the portion of food-related print magazines has expanded hugely over the last years. The “foodie” has even become a characteristic social figure of our time, much like the “flaneur” of the emerging urban metropoles of modern society at the turn of the 19th century, or the “nerd” as the prototype of the emerging digital revolution during the 2000s. What does the “foodie,” then, stand for? Is it a coincidence that we seem to be somewhat obsessed with food, eating, and cooking? I don’t think so.…

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If health-conscious people were to choose between diets recommending natural or processed food products, which would they choose? The language of dietary advice today is dominated by notions of nature, organic farming, and organic products. It seems that such labels are very appealing to people wanting to live more healthy lifestyles. Only 40 years ago, however, health experts and dietitians in the Polish People’s Republic used a far different language to convince their beneficiaries to eat certain foods. It was the language of science, industry and technology. Embracing Technology In 1970s media discourse, the word “natural” was hardly ever used; both in cookbooks and women’s magazines. It was obvious then that vegetables, fruit, mushrooms and milk were all-natural. What seemed…

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After 55 years as Weight Watchers, in April of 2018 the company unveiled a new name—“WW”—and new approach to commercialized dieting. CEO Mindy Grossman proclaimed that “healthy is the new skinny, and that’s very empowering for people.” Shifting from a focus on losing weight, she told Forbes Magazine that the company’s goal was “to help people be the healthiest version of themselves” and to “inspire health habits for […] communities.” WW’s swerve to “wellness” was critiqued by members of the Health At Every Size movement, including nutritionists who worry that this new veneer of wellness hides the same damaging attitudes about food and body size. Vincci Tsui, a HAES-focused registered dietician tweeted that “the diet industry is listening, but instead…

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“Why do they always look at me like that?” That’s what I think when I consistently see the same white men and women on the running trail in my neighborhood. My boyfriend and I recently moved to this neighborhood, motivated in part by the vast amount of running trails in the area. Granted, I see more people using the trails to walk their dogs in the morning, but I don’t mind the dogs. What I do mind are the constantly surveilling eyes that watch me as I jog over the bridge.  I cannot help but think that their gaze is a response to both my being black and running on the trail. My blackness may be disrupting their racially homogenous…

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