Organic Groceries with a Helping of Irony


California 2013 127California 2013 125  California 2013 126Organic Groceries with a Helping of Irony

Here are some shots of the Whole Foods Market in Haight-Ashbury, on Haight Street right across from Golden Gate Park.

This decor is a great example of how consumer culture–retailers, advertisers, and the like–co-opt progressive movements to serve consumer ends. So here, we have the (somewhat) progressive, organic, chi-chi, and trendy Whole Foods Market (see Michael Pollan’s commentary on WFM for an explanation of the “somewhat”)embracing a kitschified hippie aesthetic. Note the flower power on the walls and dangling from the chandelier, along with the artsy “Peace Out” sign. The obvious irony here (perhaps so obvious I shouldn’t bother stating it) is that hippie, commune culture was really about the opposite of bougie-WFM consumerism.

See Thomas Frank’s great book, The Conquest of Cool, for how advertisers back in the 1960s themselves co-opted the discourse and imagery of the hippie movement to sell their products. Clearly, the same strategy is at work today.

Opened in 2011, this particular WFM was built partly from recycled materials.


One thought on “Organic Groceries with a Helping of Irony

  1. rbwatts

    It’s interesting how WFM blends elements of the local culture into their store design at this location. I wonder if they do that in some of their other stores, and if so which ones.

    You would find Greg Dickinson and Casey Malone Maugh’s chapter, “Placing Visual Rhetoric: Finding Material Comfort at Wild Oats Market,” in the book Defining Visual Rhetorics, to be of interest. (I use it in my Visual Comm class.) They examine how Wild Oats Market (similar to WFM) designs its store aesthetics to evoke nostalgia for small town markets and farmers’ markets.


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