On Groceries

The fall I moved to Richmond and just started working, Andy visited on the way up from Durham. I think we were just talking about life after Duke when I said that one of the best parts of my post-college life would be shopping at Whole Foods . Not something I’d ever expected.

I don’t think my family had ever once gone to Whole Foods growing up. We were very much a Sunday morning coupon-clipping, Asian store vegetable shopping, bulk item Costco visiting, suburban Illinois Chinese family.

And I get that. You don’t go to Whole Foods to get Red Baron frozen pizza or silken tofu or yu choy.

Yet somehow, grocery shopping has become the highlight of my week.

My first stop is always Kroger for all my legitimate groceries. Milk, veggies, unbleached flour. Stuff like that.

Also oat milk now. I think I’ve tried all the brands? First carton was Trader Joe’s (pretty good, kinda sweet). Planet Oat vanilla (good). Then Chobani, my unexpected favorite. Califia was gritty. Silk was gritty. Oatly, the original, is also good. I used to be a soy milk dude, but oat milk’s really got me.

Also, can I just say major props to whoever redesigned Chobani’s packaging? They went from cliche sterile supermarket greek yogurt to this thick serif font and watercolors-on-cream packaging. Frankly, beautiful.

But as much as I love Chobani oat milk, Fage greek yogurt is still the best. You have to try some of the whole milk Fage. It’s so creamy. Get a tub of Fage and a jar of Bonne Maman strawberry preserves, and make your own fruit-at-the-bottom.

I love Noosa too. Very smooth, lovely packaging, and that lemon Noosa with the lemon curd at the bottom—goodness, that’s sublime.

Okay, enough of that.

I go to Trader Joe’s for random goodies.

Mix and match six packs of beer. Four dollar bottles of wine. Toscano soaked in syrah cheese (seriously, the best cheese there). Uncured pre-sliced salami. Dark chocolate peanut butter cups. The olive oil bottle that comes with a pour spot!

Trader Joe’s isn’t really a bread or meat or staple food type of place unless I’m in New York.

And then there’s Whole Foods. I love Whole Foods. Whole Foods is calm. It’s spacious. It’s airy and bright and has that Everything is so expensive, yet I still want it all! vibe.

Prime example—orange juice. I love fresh squeezed orange juice. One of the best parts of visiting Turkey was that there were juice stands on every street. A dollar would get you a few oranges worth of fresh juice. So good.

Fuji Apples. These are my favorite and the ones I get from Whole Foods never disappoint.

But my favorite item — worth a trip on its own — is their Raisin Challah. Michelle and I literally just ate this loaf we got yesterday afternoon for dinner. Pull apart fluffy bread. Raisins on the outside caramelized a little bit. It’s soft and sweet and if somehow you don’t eat it all on the first day, you can make the best French toast ever.



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Brian Lin

Brian Lin


Brian Lin is a writer, runner, and stray cat lover. A recent Duke grad in CS and English, he is a software engineer by day and a typewriter poet by night.