Yesterday, I was a woman on a mission:

To document my journey into the center of all things organic, sustainable, and edible: Whole Foods. (This particular branch is located in Lincoln Park, Chicago…and it’s absolutely gigantic. I thought I had died and gone to overly priced produce heaven.)

Why is this a mission, you ask? Well…if Whole Foods (or anywhere else, for that matter) had a Most Wanted List…I’d be on it. Not for shoplifting or loitering or drooling over the fresh figs, but for breaking their #1 rule:

No photography.

Now this rule pains me whenever I encounter it, but nowhere more so than at Whole Foods. So, I chose to forget about it until one of their informants spots me with their binoculars and sends the SWAT team down to forcibly remove me from the store.

It’s not that intense…but they are pretty quick on the trigger when they spot a camera-wielding patron.

Which is why I had to be pretty quick on the shutter to snag a few covert pics of the most important aspects of my Whole Foods Adventure to share with you all. (Whole Foods, if you’re reading this, I really am sorry…I just can’t help myself.)

#1 – The Trail Mix Bar

Really, who doesn’t love trail mix? It’s the perfect combination of sweet and salty, soft and crunchy, and depending on what’s inside it’s usually jam-packed with healthy ingredients. But there’s usually at least one ingredient that is less thrilling than the rest. For example, cashews and macadamia nuts are usually the picked-last-for-gym-class losers at the bottom of my bag. So…Whole Foods developed the perfect solution to the standard trail mix bag dilemma. Behold: The Trail Mix Bar. It’s a thing of beauty. You get to choose all of your favorite trail mix components! It’s like getting all of the first picks in the draft! I made a small bag for lunch and it was amazing. Two thumbs up, Whole Foods. Way to go on this one.

#2: The Nut Butter Grinder

Have you ever wanted to try almond butter or cashew butter but don’t want to make it yourself or buy an expensive jar without knowing what you’re getting yourself into? Whole Foods has the answer to that too, with the Nut Butter Grinders (my name, not theirs…I’m sure they have a name that’s a bit more professional). You can grind up almonds, cashews, or peanuts into your own butter, as much or as little as you’d like. Genius.

#3: The Kitchen

Where better to learn about whole foods than…Whole Foods? They had an outstanding selection of classes that all take place here, in their full-size kitchen of wonders. Amazing! If I lived in Chicago, I’d be front-row in every class.

#4: The Eat-In Balcony

I’m not sure who the official originator of this idea was – Wegmans, Whole Foods, or someone else entirely – but having a balcony where customers can eat their take-out meals and people watch and generally wile away the day is a great idea. It also provided a fairly inconspicuous photo op, which was also a great idea.

There you have it, friends. Undercover Whole Foods photos. Likely the most stealthy thing I’ll do during the entire trip.

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