October 27, 2014

"Is the name kaffir lime racist?"

We buy a lot of limes, because Meade makes limeade just about every day. If you've read this blog for a long time and also have a long memory, you may remember when Meade was only a commenter here, and his screen name included his first initial, so that it was l.meade, and that looked like "limeade" with the bottom two thirds of the "i" dropped out.

We tend to food-shop at Whole Foods, where there can be a choice of different limes — the limes that look like green lemons, the darker rounder sort of lime, key limes. I don't really keep track, because without a sense of smell, the basic tastes are exposed in raw form, and sourness is the worst. Imagine what a lime would be like if you couldn't smell it. I'll tell you, in a word: bad. To me, limeade is a way to take a glass of water and cause it to need a whole lot of sweetener to make it drinkable. And then Meade's sweetener of choice is stevia. What the hell! "Here's What The Stevia Sweetener Really Is — And Why Some People Think It Tastes Bad." I'm one of those people. So Meade's drink of choice is a horror to me.

Yesterday, at Whole Foods, we saw a type of lime we'd never noticed before. It was small and warty and twice as expensive as those other limes. What are "kaffir limes"? There must be some reason people want to pay double for something uglier, though perhaps it's a trick to make nitwit shoppers assume it must be great, because it's twice the price and weird-looking. That might be one dimension of the Whole Foods scheme to manipulate consumer psychology — along with friendly staff, happy butchers, vast variety in chosen places (notably, cheese), godforsaken aisles of questionable curatives, magazines at the checkout point that signal lightweight spirituality and moderate athleticism, and puzzling racks of canvas slip-on shoes and flimsy, cottony shirts and leggings.

We were told kaffir limes might have something to do with Thai cooking, and we declined the produce person's offer to slice one of those things in half right now and give us a sample, which seemed frightening both because of the small machete she brandished and because of the sourness of lime in unadulterated form. I said we'd look it up on the internet.

So, I'm looking it up and the first thing I find is a Slate article: "Is the Name Kaffir Lime Racist?" The short answer is that although the word is a racist slur in South Africa, the use as the name of those limes seems to have arrived in English by a different route:
As the Oxford English Dictionary points out, Scottish botanist H.F. Macmillan used the term in his 1910 Handbook of Tropical Gardening and Planting to refer to a lime found in Sri Lanka, the home of the ethnic group that refer to themselves proudly as the Kaffirs. Macmillan lived there for 30 years, and it was there that he wrote his botanical handbook. It is difficult to say how he, and the other people he heard using the term kaffir lime, understood the connotation of the word, but it seems at least possible that the name began innocuously....

University of California researcher David Karp has alerted me to an even earlier published instance of the name kaffir lime than H.F. Macmillan’s: In The Cultivated Oranges, Lemons Etc. of India and Ceylon, published in 1888, author Emanuel Bonavia briefly mentions the fruit, noting, “Europeans call it Caffre-lime.”...

Karp and his colleague Cara De Silva have posited a different explanation for the name, speculating in 1998 in the food journal Petits Propos Culinaires, “Indian Muslims most likely encountered the fruit as an import from lands such as Thailand and Sri Lanka, where Buddhists and other non-Muslims predominated. ... From this Indian usage, intended to convey otherness and exotic provenance, the term passed into English.” This theory suggests that the name’s roots lie closer to the original Arabic meaning of kafir than to the 20th-century racial slur, although of course the term’s potentially benign origins don’t invalidate modern-day concerns about the word’s offensiveness.
It seems to me that if you have a product with a name that some people will experience as offensive, you might want to change the name, even though there's a pleasant-enough explanation. (See: Pee Cola and Barf dishwashing detergent.)

But in the case of kaffir limes, the explanation is not all that pleasant. It's old-fashioned othering. I thought we were eschewing that too. And by we, I mean, we, the kind of people who shop at Whole Foods.

77 comments:

AReasonableMan said...

Althouse said …
Yesterday, at Whole Foods …


Clinton voter.

RecChief said...

Politicize Everthing!!

Henry said...

You really need a Trader Joes in your neighborhood. You will save a boatload of money on limes.

Ann Althouse said...

We'd just come from walking the Seminole Mountain Bike Trail, where one of the things we talked about was how, if (Trek heir) Mary Burke becomes governor, it will be good for biking.

Paco Wové said...

"the explanation is not all that pleasant. It's old-fashioned othering."

But I thought "othering" was only bad when it was done by those nasty old white people.

Ann Althouse said...

"But I thought "othering" was only bad when it was done by those nasty old white people."

Whole Foods is white people.

The Drill SGT said...

This theory suggests that the name’s roots lie closer to the original Arabic meaning of kafir than to the 20th-century racial slur, although of course the term’s potentially benign origins don’t invalidate modern-day concerns about the word’s offensiveness.

Kafir and Kaffir are of course the same oral word, and have taken the slightly different written forms. Both derive from the Arabic / Muslim term for a polytheistic infidel. (for example, an East African).

That the Dutch picked up this Arabic loan word for locals isn't surprising.

Shanna said...

kaffir lime is a pretty sounding name.

Are you sure your dislike of sourness is related to smell?

I love limes, and lemons and blood oranges and anything tart in fruit.

Steve said...

From your write up it seems to me that "exotic" would be a better translation of the word than "other."

I will continue not to buy kaffir limes but not for any of the reasons you discuss.

The Cracker Emcee said...

The Belanja dude is making me horny.

Wait, this isn't a cafe post?

CWJ said...

And then there is kefir. A truly nasty lumpy liquid yogurt drink that Russians dearly love.

Ron said...

"l.meade" -- The One-eyed Meade among the blind....

Anonymous said...

I now have Nilsson's "Lime in the Coconut" in my head.

Now let me get this straight
You put the lime in the coconut, you drink 'em both up
Put the lime in the coconut, you drink 'em both up
Put a lime in the coconut, you drink 'em both up

Put the lime in the coconut, you such a silly woman
Put a lime in the coconut and drink 'em both together
Put the lime in the coconut, then you feel better
Put the lime in the coconut, drink 'em both down
Put the lime in the coconut, and call me in the morning

Whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo, ain't there nothin' you can take
I say, whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo, to relieve your bellyache
You say, well, whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo, ain't there nothing I can take
I say, whoo-whoo, to relieve your bellyache
You say, yeah, ain't there nothin' I can take
I say, waah waah, to relieve this bellyache

Ann Althouse said...

"And then there is kefir. A truly nasty lumpy liquid yogurt drink that Russians dearly love."

I have never tasted that, but the name has always looked like a racial epithet to me.

Yogurt is another one of those sour foods that people tend to sweeten. Why start with something sour and make it sweet? You'd think people would start with a neutral base if they wanted something sweet. It's utterly foolish to eat sweetened yogurt in a world that has ice cream.

CWJ said...

Althouse,

I've not tasted the local product sold here in the health food aisle, but I have tasted the real thing imported from abroad. You'd swear it had gone bad with the lumpy consistency, but our Russian son told us that's just the way it is.

Anonymous said...

Re: "Why start with something sour and make it sweet?"

It seems Pineapple Juice would work better than the lime in the 'coconuts'. As it were.

RecChief said...

I have never tasted that, but the name has always looked like a racial epithet to me.

So what do you have to say about a drink made with vodka and coffee liqueur?

CWJ said...

Althouse,

As far as the spellings go, it might be a "k" thing with the Russians and their drinks. There is also kvass (fermented rye bread), and kvaas (beets).

RecChief said...

And by we, I mean, we, the kind of people who shop at Whole Foods.

When I read this last sentence, in my head I hear the nasally, blue blood, new englander. Social status based on where you shop for food? Sweet Saint Joseph, get your nose out of the clouds

Just an old country lawyer said...

I like cooking. I like limes. I like Whole Foods even though they are pretentious and way over priced. However, this post just makes me tired. Couldn't finish. Racist limes? God help us.

Gahrie said...

It's old-fashioned othering. I thought we were eschewing that too. And by we, I mean, we, the kind of people who shop at Whole Foods.

You're kidding right? The people who shop at Whole Foods spend most of their lives feeling superior and self righteous.

They spend quite a bit of their time othering and demonizing those they disagree with.

Kirk Parker said...

No.

And the folks at Slate are being profoundly silly here; this is First World Problems on steroids.

tim in vermont said...

We had these Lemons growing in our back yard in Florida, before the fruit tree Nazis cut it down that had what we called "Granpa Simpson" lemons. They looked like his head, and slices looked great in a drink. Not sure they were any better than other lemons except they were really fresh.

Now that they can't cut down homeowner's fruit trees anymore, I wish I could find that variety to plant again.

MadisonMan said...

You really need a Trader Joes in your neighborhood.

There is one, closer to casa Althouse than Whole Foods. But harder to get to it by car.

kcom said...

You should have expanded your explanation and discussion on this topic. You were unnecessarily niggardly with your thoughts.

Henry said...

The people who shop at Whole Foods spend most of their lives feeling superior and self righteous.

They spend quite a bit of their time othering and demonizing those they disagree with.


Irony facepalm.

kcom said...

And by the way, what race are limes?

Fernandinande said...

To limeys.

Larry J said...

Just wonderful. We can search the hundreds of languages and thousands of dialetcs around the world to compile a list of words considered offensive, then ban them from use because someone, somewhere might be offended. Is there no limit to the absurdity of the PC crowd?

Multi-national corporations often spend a great deal of time and money trying to eliminiate offensive terms in their product and corporate names. There are many articles about companies findng that the names of their products don't translate well when introduced into new markets. Years ago, a coworker pointed out that Exxon was a word that was considered inoffensive in every known language until the Exxon Valdez accident. After that, he said Exxon was an obsenity in every language.

Gahrie said...

Irony facepalm.

I never claim to be better than anyone, or deny the fact that I other people. I'm not saying I'm better than them, I'm saying I'm not a hypocrite.

Gaijin42 said...

The word Kaffir always intrigues me, because I learned in through reading Ghandi, who apparently had quite the racist streak by modern standards, and didn't think very highly of the "kaffirs" - its a part of his reputation that has been wiped from memory from the most part

“However, at about 12 o’clock we finished the day’s journey, with no Kaffirs to fight.” ~ The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Government of India (CWMG), Vol. V, p. 262

“Ours is one continued struggle against degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the European, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir, whose occupation is hunting and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with, and then pass his life in indolence and nakedness.” ~ CWMG, Vol. II, p. 74


“A Kaffir is to be taxed because he does not work enough: an Indian is to be taxed because he works too much.” ~ CWMG, Vol. III, p. 337

Regarding forcible registration with the state of blacks: “One can understand the necessity for registration of Kaffirs who will not work.” ~ CWMG, Vol. I, p. 105

“Why, of all places in Johannesburg, the Indian location should be chosen for dumping down all kaffirs of the town, passes my comprehension. Of course, under my suggestion, the Town Council must withdraw the Kaffirs from the Location. About this mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians I must confess I feel most strongly. I think it is very unfair to the Indian population, and it is an undue tax on even the proverbial patience of my countrymen.” ~ CWMG, Vol. I, pp. 244-245

“Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized - the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals.” ~ CWMG, Vol. VIII, pp. 135-136


Sept. 5, 1905: “The decision to open the school for all Coloured children is unjust to the Indian community, and is a departure from the assurance given… that the school will be reserved for Indian children only.” — Vol. 4, p. 402

Feb. 29, 1908: “The British rulers take us to be so lowly and ignorant that they assume that, like the Kaffirs who can be pleased with toys and pins, we can also be fobbed off with trinkets.” — Vol. 8, p. 167

Jan. 16, 1909: “I have, though, resolved in my mind on an agitation to ensure that Indian prisoners are not lodged with Kaffirs…. I observed with regret that some Indians were happy to sleep in the same room as the Kaffirs…. This is a matter of shame to us. We may entertain no aversion to Kaffirs, but we cannot ignore the fact that there is no common ground between them and us in the daily affairs of life.” — Vol. 9, p. 257

Shanna said...

Why start with something sour and make it sweet? You'd think people would start with a neutral base if they wanted something sweet.

Because you want it to have a flavor other than 'sweet'? Think of the difference between a key lime pie and something that is just pure sugar taste...

Shanna said...

Or a lemon pound cake and a regular pound cake.

William said...

Why is the Boer use of kaffir more evil than the Islamic use? Why are some prejudices more prejudicial than others??......Sometimes I spend more money than necessary on luxury food items. I can afford it, and I have no interest in any other luxury item. I guess gluttony will be my last remaining vice.

Rick Turley said...

I've never heard of the fruits being used for culinary purposes. The leaves are quite common in Thai cooking, particularly in soups like tom yum.

Be said...

I had the habit of buying one new product a week from the lady who sold products from the Antilles. At one point, she gave me a small, lumpy lime that she called a "wrinkled lemon."

My instructions were to grate the peel to season marinades and curry, to "arrange" rum. The fruit could just be discarded, as it was inedible.

If it's the same fruit (and I'll bet it is), it's kind of funny how it moves from Racist in one language to Ageist in another.

Drago said...

I guess the time has long passed when it would be considered acceptable for an almost all white mercenary force to swoop in to rescue a "kaffir" leader in order to prevent an opposing all "kaffir" force from killing that leader.

See "The Wild Geese" (1978) with an all star cast.

Of course, when "kaffirs" kill "kaffers" then the murdered "kaffirs" really never counted anyway, by definition.

Be said...

Oops! Forgot to add: the grated peel smelled a lot like citronella, only fruitier. If one weren't able to smell the perfume, the main sensations would be unpleasant: chewy like something likely to get caught between the teeth and bitter.

Paco Wové said...

"Whole Foods is white people"

I see... white people!!

So Whole Foods is blatantly mis-appropriating another culture's othering language. My God, is there no end to the evil?

David said...

Whole Foods is white people.

Hmmm, I was about to congratulate Althouse on a completely different movie reference. [Cue Charlton Heston....]

Skeptical Voter said...

Ah Anne--law school professor in liberal town "tends to shop at" Whole Paycheck--a place where you can buy limes that cost twice as much as other limes.

Don't want to stereotype you there Ms. Althouse (I do some shopping at the local Whole Foods myself) but this description writes its own parody.

I went to law school in Berkeley in the mid 1960's. The Co-Op was the trendy politically correct place to shop for groceries. There were several Co-Op stores in town, but the biggest one was a massive store on the corner of Telegraph and Ashby.

Some trendy politically correct things never change--although the name does. Imagine my surprise when I was in Berkeley lalst spring and looking for that old Co-Op on Telegraph and Ashby--to discover that it is now a Whole Foods store.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ironclad said...

Wholly smokes - Kaffir and Kafir (the South African N word and the arabic "infidel" word) are both loaded insults in any situation. Kaffir derives from the kafir arabic word and has been around a long time - the Portuguese picked it up from the arabs from the slave trade. Kafir is what Arabs call anyone who isn't Muslims - like the Yazidi or Hindu.

Does Whole Foods sell picaninny plums or darkie dates next to the limes? That's about the level fruit has descended with that name.

Martha said...

"Whole Foods is white people"

Not in the New Orleans area where I live. Whole Foods in Metairie, a New Orleans suburb, is thoroughly integrated-- customers and staff.

Jupiter said...

"Whole Foods is white people."


Well, then Whole Foods is racist. QED.

Roger Sweeny said...

"I have never tasted that, but the name has always looked like a racial epithet to me."

"So what do you have to say about a drink made with vodka and coffee liqueur?"

That's a Belorussian to you, mister.

Anthony said...

Skeptical Voter, the Co-op survived longer than you'd expect a business run by hippies to last, but it eventually succumbed to political infighting. Whole foods is run by hard-headed businessman from Texas, so it's probably got sooner staying power.

Henry said...

Disclosure: I own some Whole Foods shares. You can't buy Trader Joes shares; it's owned by "a German family trust established by Aldi Nord's owner Theo Albrecht" to quote Wikipedia.

RecChief said...

Roger Sweeny said...
"I have never tasted that, but the name has always looked like a racial epithet to me."

"So what do you have to say about a drink made with vodka and coffee liqueur?"

That's a Belorussian to you, mister.


I think the one you are thinking of has cream in it. The one I referenced, does not, get it?

Rusty said...

Speaking as a kaffir I say let it stand.
I'm not offended by it at all.
Us kaffirs are a pretty broad minded bunch

Drago said...

Ironclad: "Wholly smokes - Kaffir and Kafir (the South African N word and the arabic "infidel" word) are both loaded insults in any situation. Kaffir derives from the kafir arabic word and has been around a long time - the Portuguese picked it up from the arabs from the slave trade. Kafir is what Arabs call anyone who isn't Muslims - like the Yazidi or Hindu."

Well then, if the Muslims are using it (even in a derogatory fashion) then we already know the left will have no issues with it.

n.n said...

It means "buttermilk" in Russian. I have never tried it with lime. Perhaps the combination is what engenders a "racist" connotation.

Anonymous said...

Althouse said:

"I have never tasted that, but the name has always looked like a racial epithet to me."

Well, if we are rooting out racial epithets, look and marvel at Jan Matzeliger's (that name kind of sounds suspicious) invention, which revolutionized the way shoes were made, the Nigger Head, an automatic lasting machine that sewed the upper of the shoe to the lower. Matzeliger was a black man from Dutch Guiana, who settled in Lynn, Mass, then the shoe capital of the United States. His machine transformed Lynn into the shoe making capital of the world.

And a call out to Skeptical Voter, who correctly compared Whole Foods to the co-ops of the 70s and 80s, where only the smug shopped. Now, at least in my neighborhood, Whole Foods is mostly a place where white, well off ($80,000 a year or more), suburban women shop.

We'll never change anything as long as there are thought crimes committed by white men to root out. Soon I might even turn myself in.

Update on a previous post, "The Loserosity of Martha Coakley," The Boston Globe, Beantown's pre-eminent liberal rag has endorsed Charlie Baker, the Republican for Governor. Read the comments. Sidesplitting.

Brando said...

It can't be racist if no one knows what it means.

I remember someone once making a comment about how as a New Englander they referred to liquor stores as "packies" which was short for "package stores". They were in London talking about picking up booze at "the packie" and of course "Paki" is considered a very offensive term for Pakistanis. (This may not make sense to us--just a shorthand for a longer, acceptable word--but then the term "chink" might also not seem offensive to a newcomer).

We just don't use the word "kaffir" here in America, and when we hear it it sounds exotic, like "mandarin" or "gaelic" or "Oregon". Is it the word itself or the intentions of the speaker that matters?

virgil xenophon said...

"Whole Foods is white people."

LOL. In Venice CA the Whole Foods sits adj to the "99 cents" store ( =to Dollar Tree in Louisiana.) on Lincoln Ave. We assuage our guilt :) for shopping at Whole Foods by also hitting the 99-cents store on the same trip. (Makes NO SENSE to pay more for items at WF that 99c also stocks, lol)

David said...

We don't have Whole Foods, or even segmented foods of the Kaffir Lime variety in our part of South Carolina. And good luck finding heirloom anything. But we have great fresh fish and the freshest shrimp you can imagine. Until last winter's freeze we had locally grown lemons that the fish store guy would harvest from his own tree. And Polenta is called by its true name of Grits.

So we eat pretty well. Or we can always drive two hours round trip to the nearest Whole Foods. I've been here 10 years and haven't done that yet.

David said...

I also buy Indonesian food online from a web business owned by Indonesian Muslims. Mostly it's canned and bottled goods you would not find even in a Whole Foods or other ritzy US store. But they sell Kaffir Limes and the leaves too. Should I be insulted? Fear being poisoned? Hope not because their service is excellent and the good is great.

Drago said...

Brando said...
It can't be racist if no one knows what it means.

George "macaca" Allen begs to differ.

As does Eden "water buffalo" Jacobowitz.

http://articles.philly.com/1993-04-27/news/25982664_1_eden-jacobowitz-racial-epithet-water-buffalo

Roughcoat said...

In "The Man Who Would be King" Peachy and Daniel journey into "Kaffiristan."

Leora said...

Best description of Whole Foods shopping I have ever read.

Brando said...

"George "macaca" Allen begs to differ."

Very true--of course Allen's downfall is that there wasn't an alternative meaning for "macaca", so of course people looked it up to find out what he was talking about.

That whole episode was weird. First, the guy was filming it, so obviously don't say anything offensive that you don't want distributed--this wasn't like Romney's "47%" remark. Second, who on earth says "macaca"???

Brother J said...

I don't know about the fruit, but the leaves of the kaffir lime ( ใบมะกรูด, pronounced bai makroot) are used shredded in lots of Thai dishes. Panang, tom yum, prik king, are examples that come to mind,as a flavoring. They're very aromatic. My wife is Thai and uses lots of them.

mikeski said...

I use the leaves in Thai cooking. I guess the zest is used in some curries, but the juice isn't really usable in cooking, so they're not a substitute for non-kaffir limes in your limeade. Save your money. :-)

Wikipedia says the juice is used as a medicine and a cleaning agent.

And also says you should call it a "makrut lime", based on its name in the Thai language. Wikipedia is the only place I've ever seen "makrut lime". Every Thai grocery I've been to calls them kaffir limes. (As does google: "kaffir lime" = 500,000 hits, "makrut lime" = 6,000 hits. With most of the front page being articles titled "kaffir lime", or articles discussing the social injustice of their name.)

Sigivald said...

"Is the name Kaffir Lime racist?"

"No."

Anglelyne said...

AA: It's utterly foolish to eat sweetened yogurt in a world that has ice cream.

Nonsense. Sweetened cultured milk/cream does not taste like sweetened fresh milk/cream. Depends on what you're in the mood for. (Though if you don't do sour, you would never be in the mood for the former.)

Granted, I don't much care for bland sweetened commercial yogurts, either, but the "holiday" yogurts I ferment up once or twice a year are sublime: throw some brandy, citrus zest, bit of sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, what-have-you into scalded half-and-half, proceed as usual. (For our workaday daily yogurt we use a more ascetic blend of half-and-half and whole milk, eaten plain.)

On topic, I propose starting a campaign of othering the hell out of Slate writers. Ideally, the program should include stocks, rotten fruit, that sort of thing. Wouldn't waste good ice cream or home-made yogurt on 'em, though.

Danno said...

Don't knock Whole Foods. It serves a good purpose for finding some things out of the ordinary, but it truly is Whole Paycheck if you load up your cart like a regular grocery store. For Althouse, it is probably a bit easier to get to than Trader Joes, especially since the Southwest Trail blocks off many streets between Regent and Monroe.

Whole Foods does tend to attract the libs and their Priuses. They must like it because it is non-union.

Ululating Umlungu said...

In present day South Africa, Kaffir limes are known as Makrut limes, Kaffir trees as Coral trees, Kaffir sheeting as K sheeting, and the people once called Kaffirs are now called previously disadvantaged individuals. The K word is regarded as "hate speech" and carries a hefty fine; however, the local Islamic radio station refers to non-Muslims as Kufar. And our President sings about killing farmers, but that seems OK, as he's not very educated, and doesn’t really mean it.

The Spotted Horse Owl said...

Naming conventions are defied for other foods in order to avoid negative connotations. Case in point: Canola oil. Sunflower oil comes from sunflower seeds, Olive oil comes from olives, Corn oil comes from corn, Canola oil comes from rape.

Be said...

^^^Wicked Interesting, The Spotted Horse Owl (in my best Strongbad Voice):

Rapeseed, Colza and Canola are all from the same thing, a Brassica called Brassica napus.

The Colza in French is apparently from the Dutch, koolzahd (sorry for the spelling) - Cabbage Seed.

Canola is an acronym for Canadian National Oil, I think?

Rapeseed oil was predominantly produced as a biofuel by the French. The Canadians ended up pushing it as people fuel oil.

I sometimes chuckle when I see folks talking about using colza as a biofuel nowadays, as what goes around comes around.

Be said...

Rape - rapum: turnip, cabbage. Just like Broccoli Rave, etc.

Hmm.

Be said...

"Whole Paycheck" is one of those tropes / memes just like the $6 coffee at Starbucks that tires me out.

I can shop better at a local Whole Foods than at the Walmart "Green Section," in many cases. It's all about watching the prices.

If one is lucky to have a TJ's around, that's great. Else, 365 Brand is very competitive.

jaed said...

Second, who on earth says "macaca"???

"Macaque". His mother was Tunisian, and my guess is that "little monkeys" was what she called her children when they misbehaved. It sounded as though something like that was where it came from, some memory of the word.

Skeptical Voter said...

Be said: "Whole Paycheck is one of those tropes that just tires me out."

Well Be, you'll just have to be tired. I shop some at Whole Foods--agree that 365 brand is competitive. But most of their prices are way out of line--especially where produce is concerned.

The local Whole Foods in Glendale CA was the biggest Whole Foods in the country when it opened up 10 years ago; five years later an even bigger one was opened in neighboring Pasadena. The chain Trader Joes originated in South Pasadena--with their first store open there maybe 35 years ago.

Over time I've shopped at all of them (my wife and I share cooking and shopping duties).

Los Angeles is large and very much multiethnic in its food stores. We've also got some local high end supermarkets that, for a price, consistently outshine Whole Foods, If you've got the time and the inclination you can find better bargains, or higher quality than Whole Foods or Trader Joes on virtually every item in their stores.

In the "ethnic" supermarkets like Super King, or Golden Farms, you'll find consistently lower produce prices--and equal quality on most items. You'll also find tired Hispanics and Armenians who don't have the time or inclination to be smug about shopping with "folks like us".

In the high end local chains like Gelsons or Bristol Farms, you'll find superior quality to that on offer at Whole Foods, and people who are too durned wealthy to worry about whether they are shopping with "folks like us".

Whole Foods (and to an extent Trader Joes) occupies its own special niche. You get a serving of smug along with your locally sourced blueberries. Oddly the phenomenon translates overseas as well. I saw the same thing in the Whole Foods stores in Camden Town and Clapham in London last summer.

Harold said...

Now that I know what stevia is- won't bother to try it. Saccharine leaves my taste buds with a bitter aftertaste. I doubt stevia would fare better.

And someone mentioned limeys. I was reading about that. Back then, there wasn't a different word for lemons and limes, so British sailors may very well have been eating lemons. Yellow or green, back then, they were exotic.

And in modern days, according to my wife, when in Texas if you ask for a lemon in your drink, you have to specify the yellow fruit, else the server will default to lime. She said it occurred in every restaurant she went to.

Barbara said...

I have a kaffir lime tree in my yard and it's thriving. I toss out the fruit (I could mail it to Mead) and use the leaves in my cooking. Have too many leaves for our household so I take the excess to a local Thai restaurant and they reward me with a free dessert. Life is good.

ken in sc said...

Gook is an innocuous word in Korea. It means 'people'. They call themselves Hangook, meaning people of the Han River. They call Americans Migook. I was told it meant Brother People. IIRC, they do not consider Japanese to be gooks. Most Koreans don't like Japanese very much.

Be said...

Thank you, Skeptical Voter, for having helped, with your London "Whole Paycheck" experiences, along with your experiences in the LA Asian markets, to bolster my original note that 365 Brand is a competitive one.