When one is trying to clean up their food act, it is almost inevitable that one will occasionally wind up at the local health food store. For example, my favorite milk line, Harmony (in the glass bottles), is only available at health food stores.

To be honest, I’ve never liked health food stores for four reasons:

1. They are filled with “faux” foods masquerading as even more faux foods. For example, while regular commercial hot dogs are virtual chemistry sets, with meat being only an afterthought, tofu dogs are even worse; a slurry of textured vegetable proteins and “natural” additives that were never meant (by nature) to be consumed in such large quantities. In fact, just about everything in a health food store is an imitation of something else that you’re not supposed to be eating in the first place!

2. They stink. Shoving together “faux” faux foods, open bins of grains and nuts, vitamins and supplements, perfumes, soaps, wax candles, incense, and spices in the same cloistered space, topped off with the cooking odours emanating from the “fresh” bar blending all kinds of “greens” with yohimbe beans, cactus thistles and patchouli leaves, produces a nauseating melange that makes me want to hurl. I can tolerate Whole Foods because they are usually in large well-ventilated premises, although, even there, I try to steer clear of the centre aisles where the aromatics are incestuously intertwined.

3. Most of the people in health food store don’t look too healthy. It begs the question: Are they there because they’re sick and trying to get well, or are they sick because they go there? Or are they just health-obsessed neurotic social pariahs who go into anaphylactic shock at the mention of gluten or lactose?

4. But the worst of all are the unqualified kooks freely dispensing whacky medical advice to people who really are sick. Last week, in a 5 minute span while picking up milk, I overheard three staff members of our local health food store giving customers advice about serious medical conditions. And don’t get me wrong, these weren’t certified naturopaths consulting in a private space. They were stock clerks and raw-bar cooks, and the conditions they were indiscreetly making recommendations about ranged from urinary tract infections to cancer!