A Vegan Rosh Hashanah Courtesy of Mariano’s

 

 

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Every day eating is hard for me, let alone Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah. Being vegan has its pluses and minuses. The vegan chopped liver my friend’s aunt makes every year is a joy and aside from missing out on the brisket and honey cake, I usually make do. This year I was asked by Mariano’s, (#MyMarianos) Roscoe Village’s most popular joint, to create and blog about a Rosh Hashanah dish that I could make using only the store’s ingredients.

I’m not the greatest cook, but I was up for the task. Because Mariano’s is in my ‘hood, and because I was making a vegan-friendly salad for my friend’s dinner this Thursday I wanted to try and practice a few sweet salad recipes I read about on Pinterest. Because Rosh Hashanah is all about sweet food.

I have shopped at Mariano’s before and I have always been impressed by their selection and service, even for a picky vegan eater like me. And as I set out to make a salad worthy of the holiday I was a little worried about finding all the specialized ingredients I would need:

  • Baby lettuce such as kale and arugula
  • Pomegranate seeds from half a pomegranate
  • Figs (2-3)
  • Pecans (about a cup)
  • Orange (1)
  • Red Onion (1)
  • Olive oil, red wine vinegar and dijon mustard for the dressing

I’ve shopped Mariano’s on price and convenience (I’m a rewards card member — it’s worth it), but not on specialty ingredients.

Good thing I was pleasantly surprised. I was welcomed by mountains of fresh produce and helpful staff members who even pointed out where to find ripened pomegranates. (Little did I know there is a big difference- the skin starts to crack at the top of ripe ones.)

And I found lots of other goodies including yellow figs. Who knew figs could be yellow…

 

fresh lettuce #shopMariano's produce #shopPomegranate #shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beauty of Mariano’s produce is apparent!

Then I got started with the salad prep:

I caramelized the red onions:

onions #shop

I candied the pecans:

pecans #shop

And I figured out how to get pomegranate seeds out of a pomegranate. It’s not for the faint of heart, and do not wear a t-shirt you like. Just sayin’.

pomegranate seeds #shop

My salad required dressing, and I made some by squeezing half an orange into a bowl, adding 1/3 cup oil, 1/4 vinegar, tsp of dijon mustard and salt and pepper and whisking it with a fork until it got a little creamy. Yum…

dressing #shop

 

I cut the figs (had to read a tutorial on that), and spread the greens into a big bowl. Best part about the greens I got from Mariano’s is that they were pre-washed. Love that. I put the dressing on the salad and voila, my Rosh Hashanah Sweet Vegan Salad was done!

vegan rosh hashanah salad #shop

 

A big thank you to my local Chicago Mariano’s (#MyMarianos) and Collective Bias (#cbias) for this shoppertunity. I really enjoyed the process and found Mariano’s selection for my Rosh Hashanah dish to be superb. I encourage you all to Like Mariano’s on Facebook, Twitter or both!

And here’s a link to the recent Mariano’s Opera Flash Mob (did you know that Mariano’s has a piano player in the Roscoe Village store? Made waiting in the check out line a little more tolerable 🙂

Confessions of a Flexitarian, Semi-Vegan

I have a huge confession to make right here in public on my blog.

I’ve given up red meat, dairy and almost all animal protein all together. I’ve become what Caitlin is calling a flexitarian, and what Mark Bittman says is “semi-vegan.” Whatever you call it, since it’s been over three months since I started it, I thought I should get out into the open about it.

So here I am.

Here’s the rationale:

My new diet started after a conversation with a dear friend of mine who survived breast cancer said “it’s easier to prevent cancer than to cure it once you have it.” And it sort of clicked – what am I doing in my daily diet that could contribute to illness? If you know me, you know the answer – LOTS. I’d down a bag of sour patch kids a day. I’d eat fried food til the cows come home (more about cows later). I’d eat and drink without care. Luckily, I’ve never had to worry about my weight, but I should always worry about my health. Because prevention is the best medicine, right?

So my friend alerted me to this book by Joel Fuhrman called “Eat to Live” – it says how we can use our diet to alter how we feel instead of taking medicine and that we should move away from animal protein and live on plant-based  products instead.

Now I’m not saying that I’m “Living” by Dr. Fuhrman’s book. I accept some of his premise (we are over-medicated as a society), but cannot be as strict as he suggests. Soups are great, but eating raw veggies can get old…

Enter the “semi” part of the diet – I’ve made some major changes – no dairy – it was making me very congested (there’s some evidence on dairy and congestion and even my ENT dad couldn’t cure mine). No red meat. (I’ve not had it for some time and recent studies confirm my decision further to give it up.) I was eating chicken until I read this about their lifecycle and what the environmental impact they have on our world.

I’m not giving up animal protein all together. I’ve had turkey meat that I buy from a local store that’s been humanely slaughtered. I’ll eat fish as long as I check with Seafood Watch first. And, I will still have my extra hot chai latte from Starbucks because it’s the one thing I cannot live without. But now I have it with soy milk. (Don’t start with the soy on me, it’s just once a day.) I still eat out (you’d be very surprised how the best restaurants are incredibly accommodating when it comes to my strange diet!) I don’t let it bog me down and I’m flexible when I need to be. I pack lots of snacks.

And if you’re wondering, I’m not implementing this regime on my children (the #1 question people ask me when I tell them). No, they still eat cheese and milk and yogurt and…)

I’ve been feeling really good since I implemented “the change.” Besides getting rid of my post-nasal drip, my skin has cleared and I’m less bloated. However, I’m  not here to preach to you or anyone about what you should or should do with your diet. Diets are so personal. And I won’t lie – I miss cheese and I miss butter and sweets and maybe one day I’ll have them once in awhile.

I don’t know if this is permanent, but for now it feels right – it’s a semi-new way for me to live my life. Just as I’m about to speak to a room of dairy farmers. (G-d help me!) I’d love to hear your input and if you have suggestions (and recipes, please) or if you think I’ve gone just bat sh** crazy. Or just semi-crazy.

 

 

 

Pride (In the Name of Love) (Or, Neuroses?)

I pride myself on being pretty relaxed when it comes to most parenting decisions. I’ve written in the past about those feisty “helicopter moms” and, while I’m not “hands-off” by any stretch, I like to think that I’m more of a sweet little sparrow rather than a massive Blackhawk.

These ideas I pride myself on, however, always get slapped with a dash of reality when I read a story like this one, that was passed around my social circle no less than 5 times. Written for The Atlantic, the title of the post alone is enough to make any parent, even those really relaxed ones, open their mouths in fear.

How to Land Your Kid in Therapy,” title notwithstanding, is actually one of the more balanced parenting articles I’ve read in a long time. It actually should be required reading for parents. Written by a therapist and mother, Lori Gottleib, it points out key things we, as parents, do to ensure our kids have happy childhoods, but may make them be unhappy adults. An example:

Paul Bohn, a psychiatrist at UCLA who came to speak at my clinic, says the answer may be yes. Based on what he sees in his practice, Bohn believes many parents will do anything to avoid having their kids experience even mild discomfort, anxiety, or disappointment—“anything less than pleasant,” as he puts it—with the result that when, as adults, they experience the normal frustrations of life, they think something must be terribly wrong.

Consider a toddler who’s running in the park and trips on a rock, Bohn says. Some parents swoop in immediately, pick up the toddler, and comfort her in that moment of shock, before she even starts crying. But, Bohn explains, this actually prevents her from feeling secure—not just on the playground, but in life. If you don’t let her experience that momentary confusion, give her the space to figure out what just happened (Oh, I tripped), and then briefly let her grapple with the frustration of having fallen and perhaps even try to pick herself up, she has no idea what discomfort feels like, and will have no framework for how to recover when she feels discomfort later in life. These toddlers become the college kids who text their parents with an SOS if the slightest thing goes wrong, instead of attempting to figure out how to deal with it themselves. If, on the other hand, the child trips on the rock, and the parents let her try to reorient for a second before going over to comfort her, the child learns: That was scary for a second, but I’m okay now. If something unpleasant happens, I can get through it. In many cases, Bohn says, the child recovers fine on her own—but parents never learn this, because they’re too busy protecting their kid when she doesn’t need protection.

This kind of example actually came up in my previous article – we want to protect our children to the extent of ensuring that we can avoid every scrape, nick, bump or bruise. It’s just not realistic.

After reading these types of articles, I always reflect on myself – what do I do that maybe won’t land my kid on the therapist’s couch, but that might undermine is independence?

I was caught in that moment this week.

It started earlier this week when I discovered something unsettling happening at my son’s camp: they were using spray sunscreen on him. If you know me, you know the lengths I’ve gone to to eradicate the bad bad sunscreen there is out there on the market. I’ve researched and procured perhaps not the easiest-to-apply products, but what I think are the safest and best choices for our family. So that’s what, of course, I pack in my son’s bag for him to take to camp.

When the lotion I packed kept its contents steady and as my son got darker and darker from the sun, I wondered… was the sunscreen even getting on him? The answer was mixed.

“We don’t use my sunscreen, mom,” I was told earlier this week. “The counselors say it’s too hard to apply so they spray us every day with spray sunscreen which I know you don’t like.”

I love my kid.

I went into a semi-panic. Here I am, BPA, paraben, nano-particle free while my son is inhaling oxybenzone every morning in the swim locker room.

“They didn’t put it on my face,” he said proudly. But it wasn’t that much of a relief. I don’t give a lick if he eats Popsicle and chips almost every day while at camp. I can’t worry about packing him his own snacks – that’s crazy, right?

But, the chemicals in the sunscreen are ones I’ve vowed to avoid. So I did what any mother trying to protect her son from the evils of the world would do. I called the camp and complained. (It was the first time this whole summer.) And I was promptly told that the sunscreen sticks are impossible to apply, the spray is easier and if I want my son to have his own private sunscreen application I need to send lotion, not a sunscreen stick, and that she’d have to tell the UNIT HEAD of the camp that we have special rules for him.

OMG.

“You must think I’m totally crazy,” I told the camp director. “You must think I’m insane, but I hate spray sunscreen.”

OMG.

After there wasn’t much more that I could do or say. I found an old tube of California Baby and threw it in the bag. But there was more to that. What kind of ramifications would my neuroses about sunscreen chemicals have on my child, who, in wanting to protect what I think might be harmful for his health, may put him in a position of ridiculousness at camp? It’s only 8 weeks of his life, right?

At the end of the day what did I reflect on about this? That I acted bat-sh** crazy about zinc. Freaking goopy icky white zinc sunscreen.

Here’s to hoping the only couch he ends up on is the one in my basement.

My food bubble

Hello, my name is Sara and I live in a food bubble.

I have access to and can afford pretty much any kind of food my family or I need. And if for some odd reason I cannot find what I need at the myriad of Whole Foods, Costcos, Jewels, Dominicks, Paulina Meat Market, Speedways, Specialty Grocers that surround me, I can typically pick up the phone and just order it.

The only food desert I have to worry about is when my corner Starbucks runs out of cinnamon scones.

I live in a food bubble.

The reason I’m talking about my food bubble is that recently, I was asked by The Center for Food Integrity to sit on a panel of mom bloggers and speak to an audience of agriculture and food manufacturers. Alongside me were my friends Vanessa, Emily and Michelle. We spoke and answered questions about how, as moms, we use technology, how we choose our food and how we track food issues. For a great wrap-up of the event and questions asked/ discussed, please refer to Vanessa and Emily’s respective posts.

Of all the many opportunities I’ve had as a blogger, this experience rates as one of the most interesting. It’s not often that I’m asked as a blogger to talk about my use of technology or what I think current trends are AND about how I feel about food. Because even though I don’t cook often, I do pay attention to what we eat or don’t eat. Swedish fish aside. We all have our vices.

But see, that’s the point. My vice is Swedish Fish. That’s a luxury to pretty much half the world who starve every day. Even in our own country. Did you know that the hunger level in the United States is at its highest in 15 years?

Swedish fish vs. Starving. Food bubble vs. Food desert.

I sort of wanted to crawl in a hole when one of the audience members, a really nice Midwestern farmer had a question just for me. It must have been sometime after I made the point that the Whole Foods “fishmonger” is my go-to resource for what fish is safe to purchase. Oy. (I was told that Seafood Watch, my what-seafood-is-ok-to-eat Bible is “fringe.” More on safe seafood in another post.)

In any case, he asked me point blank what I would think about his lifestyle of food choices. How where he lives only two cars pass by his house a day and one of them is his wife and one is the mailman. I’m not kidding.

I don’t judge others. I know I’m lucky. I live in a food bubble.

After more rousing discussion and myriad offers for Emily and I to visit pork farms (gotta love the visual of the Jewish girls and hogs), many of the audience members came up to us panelists to thank us for our time and opinions. I now have the contact information for a Fish Ph.d. from Greg at the Indiana Farm Bureau who I can ask all my questions about why I can’t eat tuna every damn day. I met a lovely dairy farmer Shelly, who wants to do an kid exchange – she WANTS her kids to see city food life. I think my son would just about pass out at the opportunity to get on a real tractor. I also met Leah Beyer. Just about the coolest woman married to a farmer that I’ve ever met. Ok, I have no one else to compare her too, but I wish we could have snuck away after the panel to walk the broad paths of the McDonald’s Campus where the panel was held and chit chat about working mom B.S. This woman rocks!

I now have a new appreciation for the food manufacturers who are using technology to make food manufacturing more efficient with technology. Food and tech always have a negative connotation, but not when you think about the fact that this technology helps to FEED THE WORLD.

And suddenly, I was out of my food bubble and into reality. Yes, I’m still going to watch what we eat. But I’m not going to be as cynical about it. I may never purchase a box of chicken nuggets again, but I’m also not going to cry if we don’t drink organic milk all the time. I’m just going to be thankful that we have that choice.

While I’m talking about choices, please use your ability to choose the Make Miracles Grow Foundation project the winner of the Edy’s Communities Take Root program. My friend Emily is in charge of the project on the south side to help eradicate just one of the many Chicagoland food deserts. So help her out.

It feels good to get out of that bubble.

The project that “grew” on me. Growing the modern organic family.

It all started over the summer at the Not BlogHer event when Caitlin and I were discussing our current projects. Just so happened we had some crossover in meeting Deree Kobets, the owner of grow modern boutique in Wicker Park. The conversation was casual but purposeful, “wouldn’t you love to do something with her?” “Yeah.”

See what I mean?

After a nice meeting in early Fall, we proposed an online campaign plus an in-store event to try to increase grow’s awareness online with our blogger friends, but also within our social and community network. Our campaign, a culmination of tips from Deree and four amazing giveaway packages last week were a huge hit and the event on November 4 was a beautiful showcase of the power of community (thank you Wicker Park!) and good mommy fun.

But I can only write so much about how nice the evening was. I’ll let the photos tell the rest…

My messy closet floor is evidence I was in a huge rush to get to the event in time.

Did I mention it was really rainy hailing hurting snow pellets that night? Really hard to get somewhere in time in rain/ hail/ wind/ oh my!

So mad props to the moms who braved the Chicago weather to join us. (Cyn and Alma not pictured, because my camera deleted that one. But they deserve a shout-out.)

But I did get there. Ok, meet Deree (right). Isn’t she cute? I still can’t believe she grew up on a farm. She’s standing with Sarah from Olive.You.Nanny. Gosh, they just accentuate my brunette-ness.

Thank g-d wine from The Noble Grape, cupcakes from Tipsy Cake (pictured) tea from Honest Tea, pizza from Crust and appetizers from Real Naked Food (not pictured) were there waiting for me. Because of course I had no time to eat before.

Once Little Miss Ann started rockin’ we all forgot about the downpour and cold outside. She just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy!

I also think the kick-ass goodie bags and giveaways sponsored by Square One Organics, Little Miss Ann, Time Out Chicago Kids, Little Twig,  and Eco-Minders helped.

By the end of the night, I was one pooped lady, but one pooped lady with a whole lot of love after a fun night out and a great week of learning about how to live more organic, smart, and modern. It was worth the wait!

Four Days of Giveaways from Grow Modern Organic Kids: Final Day!

It’s the last day of our Four Days of Grow giveaways, and today’s giveaway gets to the heart of why we are all here in the first place: our kids. (Right? I mean, the products are pretty, but at the core…)

Our kids mean the most to us and, for me at least, the moment I became a mom I wanted to do only the best for my kids. It’s so cliche, right? But it goes beyond just the knowledge that you’d lay across a bed of hot coals for your lovelies. You’d also like to create the best environment for them to live. As Deree Kobets, owner of Grow Modern boutique and mom of two says,

I look at mine everyday with love and amazement.  By growing up in a non-toxic environment with modern, purposeful products that were produced locally with a sense of style, I know that I’ve done all that I can as a parent.

I don’t think I realized how important the products I put in my house were when I had my first son over four years ago. BPA wasn’t a “thing” and I was really into the noise and visual appeal and apparently I had a fascination with blue fish creatures as evidenced by the outgrown baby-seat graveyard in the basement.

But products with that sense of style that are non-toxic and “purposeful,” as Deree says, like the sparrow twin bed by Oeuf and mini-library by Oeuf make buying products for our kids more than just fun to play with at that moment. Products like these go the distance.

Which is why I’m so excited to offer a giveaway for some kiddie toys that go beyond flashing lights and annoying music. The Grow Modern “Kids” Day Gift Package includes:

Remember – you can enter four ways!

(1) Leave a comment on this post.

(2) Become a Follower of the Grow blog by clicking here and adding yourself as a follower. (Leave a separate comment telling me that you’ve done this).

(3) Become a fan of Grow’s Facebook Page. (Leave a separate comment telling me that you’ve done this.)

(4) If you use Twitter, retweet this giveaway for another entry. (Leave a separate comment to let me know you’ve done this).

And don’t forget to follow along tonight to hear some more great tips from Deree during our live tweeting of the “Grow an Organic Family” Event tonight. The hashtag is #growmodern.

Four Days of Giveaways from Grow Modern Organic Kids: Day One

In preparation for this Thursday’s “Growing a Modern Organic Family” event this Thursday night at Grow (a fabulous local boutique for modern organic kids), my friend Caitlin and I are going to be discussing all the fundamental elements of the Grow boutique (grow, modern, organic and kids) on our blogs this week, with tips and thoughts by Grow owner, Deree Kobets.

Because so many of our readers live out of state (did you know Grow has an online store as well?), and cannot join us in person on Thursday, we are hosting an awareness campaign starting today to help you understand the woman and the philosophy behind the products she hand-picks for her store. We want you to follow along not only to learn, but to also win some great baby and toddler (and one for moms tomorrow, here!! hint hint) gear!

Today, in keeping with the “grow” theme, Caitlin is giving away, to one lucky reader, this amazing baby bundle package from Grow on her blog:

Here’s how you can enter to win this awesome collection of baby items:

(1) Leave a comment on Caitlin’s post. You can tell her about an item that you’ve purchased for your kids that has really “grown” with them. Or you can just leave her your email address. It’s up to you.

(2) Become a Follower of the Grow blog by clicking here and adding yourself as a follower. (Leave a separate comment telling me that you’ve done this).

(3) Become a fan of Grow’s Facebook Page. (Leave a separate comment telling me that you’ve done this.)

(4) If you use Twitter, retweet this giveaway for another entry. (Leave a separate comment to let me know you’ve done this). You could even say something like:

  • RT@weewindycity Check out The Four Days of Giveaways from Grow Modern Organic Kids http://snurl.com/1e88cy #growmodern.

Each person can enter up to 4 separate times. All entries must be received by midnight CST on Thursday, November 4, 2010. The winner will be chosen using Random.org. I will notify the winner on Friday, November 5, 2010. Be sure to leave your email address so we can find you if you are the lucky winner!

I was compensated by Grow to host this awareness campaign and giveaways. Just so happens I agree with her.

How to “grow” a modern organic family!

I sometimes do things outside this blog where I actually get to interact with people and chat about interesting things. (Really? YES!) And, wouldn’t you know, I’m working on an event next week with Caitlin (a.k.a the one and only Wee Windy City) that I wanted to let you know about…
Caitlin already posted about it on her site, but here’s an excerpt of her post that explains the event … if you’re interested in attending, please send me an email at: selfmademom(at)sbcglobal(dot)net. We might have a couple spots left!
____________________________________________________________
Are you into non-toxic stuff for your family that is also stylish and durable?

On Thursday, November 4th, [Sara] and I are coordinating an event for Chicago-area moms at Grow (1943 W. Division).

Grow is an amazing resource for Chicago families — offering everything from cool kid’s decor to the best strollers and coolest kid’s clothes around.

Local mamas are going to be learning how to live organically (while also holding on to their hip quotient) while munching on organic treats and learning valuable tips from the city’s veritable green expert — Deree Kobets, the owner of Grow.

Guests will enjoy goodies from Crust, Tipsy Cake, and Real Naked Food (yum!).

We are also going to have plenty of giveaways (from The Kids’ Table, Glass Lilac and Grow), discounts — and live music from Little Miss Ann!

And everyone will be taking home even more goodies, courtesy of Square One Organics, Little Miss Ann, and EcoMinders!

If you can’t make the event, be sure to check in with Self-Made Mom and me (at my other blog A Hen and Two (now Three) Chicks) for 4 days of giveaways from Grow, starting on Monday, November 1st. We have some great items to giveaway to Chicago parents just like you. So take a minute to check it out — you’ll be glad you did!

Disclosure: I am being compensated for coordinating this awareness campaign and event at Grow.

Put the lotion on the body…

Remember my freak-out about suntan lotion ingredients earlier this summer? I’m still on the quest for natural beauty products and I may have finally found my perfect balance. I mean, to make my skin perfectly balanced. Because when it comes to organic/ natural/ chemical free face products, I was really starting to think parabens were the only way to stop my skin from looking like I had a constant glisten on my face. I have oily skin, but my overuse of Burt’s Bees Radiance products made my face look like the dewy look gone really wrong. (Better than my friend whose overuse of shea butter caused a visceral reaction of over-itchy skin. Better than bedbugs, I guess.) Plus, my eco-conscience, i.e. Allison, told me way back that Burt’s contains fragrance, which is only slightly less devilish than parabens.

After ditching the Burt’s for my husband’s old paraben creams to hold me over until I got a good replacement, I did some research on my favorite site for finding all the bad things lurking in my beauty drawer – The Environmental Working Group. Their sunscreen database rocked, so I tested it out for my facial skin care needs. And who knew, there’s more to organic beauty than Burt’s! Thank goodness for that, because I’m now matte again.

Herewith my favorite new, organic (I hope and pray and think) facial skin care products. All have a rating of 2 or less from EWG. If you prove me wrong or something I may have to de-friend you.

For my daily skin lotion I’m now using Dermologica Chroma White with SPF 30. I lived for Dermologica before I found out parabens were the devil. And this cream, while it doesn’t moisturize as well as some of the other bad boys, does have SPF 30, doesn’t smell and makes my skin brighter. No, I don’t do their advertising.

For my facial wash, I found this pretty cool cleanser from Karen’s Botanical’s. It’s really liquid-y so you cup some water in your hand and then pour the cleanser into the water mix and lather it up. It makes your face feel really dry, but I think that’s why I’m so matte. It’s dry, but not dried-out. Just wish it came in a bigger size.

For my night time facial moisturizer, I am trying out Skin’s Rosey Plum Day Moisturizer. I couldn’t find a “night” moisturizer that wasn’t laden with a lot of oils. So far so good, but Skin does advertise this product as fragrance free, and it might not contain artificial fragrance, but there is a sour-y, plum-y smell to it that took a couple days to get used to.

Next up… I bought the new Physician’s Formula Organic Wear makeup to try when my beloved, but chemically-enhanced Laura Mercier stuff runs out. I’ll keep you posted…

A whole other look at Whole Foods

I shop at the Lincoln Park Whole Foods almost once a week not infrequently. At first, the store, a behemoth grocery store by any standards, let alone a Whole Foods, scared me. But I’ve grown to love the size, the selection, and especially, the sushi bar. (I even got Cyn to meet me there once.)

Which is why I was appalled and horrified that a local mom, Lisa Portes, was BANNED from Whole Foods for LIFE for accidentally taking out a $15 bottle of chewable vitamins amidst a clusterf*** of epic proportions with her kids. (Full story in Chicago Magazine via Windy Citizen.)

Everyone who has children, babysat children, or watched children from afar can understand how difficult it is to grocery shop (or do any kind of shopping) with kids. Just the baggage and items alone needed to keep them occupied, dry, sanitized and fed is enough without remembering the grocery list, your wallet, and your own, sustainable shopping bags. (Portes gets extra props for those.)

So what, she paid for the groceries, left, forgot another item and went back to get it, took her kids to the bathroom and forgot to pay. Was that worth the shakedown by the security guard in the parking lot, a Whole Foods “mug” shot and directive to never step foot in the store again?

I think not.

I remember fondly when Kristen forgot to pay for the duck that accidentally fell into her shopping cart. Was that worth the $6.95 to take her kids out of the car, go back and pay? Readers were mixed, but I know that I wouldn’t have gotten out of my car at that moment to return it.

We all have our bad moments as mothers. And apparently Chicago does not like when moms have those moments, or moms in public in general (as referenced by the comments to this story and the Stroller Wars story that I was a part of.) Not all of us are a texting, careless, maniacal bunch.

I personally think it’s clear that Portes did not intend to steal the vitamins. It’s also clear that a company has a policy against shoplifting and I cannot fault Whole Foods for adhering to policy.

But where’s the middle ground? It’s not like Portes was a repeat offender. It’s not like she didn’t offer to pay. I’m not sure how the Whole Foods organization works, but most companies I’ve worked with over the years with regards to employee relations give managers the ability to assess the situation of their own store or office and make an informed decision based on that.

Rather, what it seems, is that everyone likes a scapegoat, especially when it’s a harried mom. It’s easy to judge that mom and assume the worst. She was an easy target for the bored security guard in the parking lot. As Portes says, “They didn’t leave the slightest margin for human error.” And that seems exactly like what it was. Human error. We all err as humans.

Even the crazy Chicago mom haters.

Even the manager and the security guard at Whole Foods.

I love the store, the products and the people I encounter at Whole Foods. But I’m not a fan of the way they handled this situation or their inane, inflexible policy. It makes me wonder who’s looking over my shoulder as I soldier on through the vast aisles of the store. I better make sure I triple check my cart on the way out.