I think Al Gore would like us

I’ve had to come face-to-face with a rather ‘inconvenient truth’ lately. I shop at natural food stores now. I’ve become ‘one of those guys.’

You know the guys I mean. Shopping for granola, buying natural products, wearing their hair in a ponytail regardless of their age, wearing Birkenstocks with wooly socks.

Ok, well I don’t have a ponytail yet (that could take years to grow…maybe I could get a clip-on one?), and I don’t like to wear sandals (although in the spirit of telling the truth, I did use to wear socks with sandals a few years back until I was teased by our office secretary.)

I am a shopper now though at natural and organic grocery stores. Now that our son is on an organic, gluten/casein free diet, this is a necessity. We can get some stuff at our regular grocery store, but these special stores have so much more.

The first time my wife and I went to one to look for stuff for our son, I almost had the feeling I imagine one has going into an adult bookstore for the first time (not that I would know). What would I find in there? Should I make eye contact with anyone else? What if someone I know sees me going in there?

Ok, so it’s not like it’s embarrassing to go to a natural food store. But I know I used to think it was odd when a former co-worker of mine was eating organic stuff. He would always have some kind of drink with a weird name, lot of sprouts and tofu, and he even used something called “Tom’s of Maine toothpaste.” Well, as of a few days ago our house proudly contains some of “Tom’s” toothpaste (just for our son though, I’m being defiant and still using Crest.)

The first few times we shopped there I got a kick out of all the ‘earthy’ people I encountered. There’s really a few categories these shoppers fall into. There’s the middle-aged ponytail guys I already mentioned, there’s the really old couples who are rail-thin and are always looking at things like flax and/or natural toilet paper (which is one thing I think I’d definitely have a hard time buying. I’m all for the environment, but my butt needs a little more than sandpaper to get the job done). There’s also the goth-type looking chicks too who are kind of pale and look like they could use a hamburger.

The last few times we’ve gone though, I feel a bit more comfortable there. The more I’m learning about all the crap that’s in our regular foods, the more I appreciate a store like this. I thought we would be doing this organic thing just for our son, but I would probably do well to limit my intake of arsenic and other hormones that are in our foods. I’m hairy enough the way it is, the last thing I need is to accidentally get some more testosterone or something from a cow.

I appreciate that these people who own these stores and shop there are trying to do something to make us healthier and to save the environment a bit. I have quite a ways to go before I can be considered totally ‘green’ but just in the last couple of weeks our family has switched to natural cleaners and our food is definitely a lot better too.

So if you’re scared to go into a natural food store, don’t be. As far as I can tell, no one will bite you, and in fact I think I get a lot more smiles from people than I do at the regular stores. And now I know where to go if I ever decide to replace my deodorant with a pumice stone.

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