Pray Tell

Unreal learns a thing or three about daily spirituality and "hoosier cabinets." Plus: Say it ain't so, Whole Foods!

Barbara Bartocci thinks praying is the freshest, hippest, awesomest thing to do, and she does it all the goddamned time. In fact, Bartocci, a Roman Catholic who attends an Episcopalian church in her hometown of Overland Park, Kansas, thinks praying is so special that she wrote a whole book about it, called Grace on the Go: 101 Quick Ways to Pray.

Unreal: Do we, as MC Hammer asserted in 1990, got to pray just to make it today?

Barbara Bartocci: Yeah. I certainly agree with that.

Hey...these tortillas have partially hydrogenated oil!
Hey...these tortillas have partially hydrogenated oil!

Your book espouses the benefits of one-minute prayers, but, Christ, we haven't got all day! Could we shoot for a 45-second prayer? Dog Whisperer is almost on.

I think you can do it in 30 seconds. The real key is learning to see in a new way. For example: The telephone rings in my office. As I pick up the phone, I can say a small blessing for the person calling me. Or I can say, "Thank you," because I have ears to hear.

The book is divided into sections that you say reflect a reader's ordinary day. But it doesn't seem to cover our two most typical prayers: For our jump shot to fall, or for our Trojan not to break.

You know, that's kind of good. I should have had a section about sports. In my last book, I asked athletes how they combined the physical and the spiritual exercise. So, I definitely believe that prayer can go along with our physical exercise.

You say: "Connect at the supermarket. There is a gift in making eye contact with someone, even for 30 seconds." Where we come from, if you make eye contact with someone you don't know for that long, they'll call the cops.

[Laughs] You might just look at them and smile, and read their little name tag and say, "Thanks, Joe." So many times we don't even see that person. But when we consciously connect with someone, to me that's a prayer.

Another quote: "Every single task is potentially holy if it's done with a holy intent." Which task is potentially holiest: squeezing blackheads, clipping hangnails or plucking nose hairs?

I'd probably pick the hangnails, although my son would probably say, "Oh, the nose hairs, Mom, the nose hairs." A hangnail that is not plucked can bring unnecessary pain into my life. As I pluck, I say, "Oh, Lord, help me find ways to pluck out the less admirable qualities that are in me, which might include that I get irritated, and then become irritating to someone else.



Unreal's Dilemma
Unreal once ate one hundred T-ravs in twelve minutes. We mention that not to boast, but to introduce this week's Commont™er, an ex-staffer at Whole Foods Market in Brentwood who reveals that her former employer "contradicts its core values by selling products with hormones, nitrates and partially hydrogenated oils." The erstwhile "Team Member," who asked not to be identified in print, backs the assertions with a quotation from Whole Foods' "company philosophy," links to pertinent Web pages at and physical evidence consisting of two (2) internal memos and one (1) wrapper from a package of flour tortillas.

For those whose fingers aren't as close to the pulse of the edible universe as Unreal's are, we'll note that these allegations arise amid a wider-ranging public dialogue between Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and Michael Pollan, whose recently published book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, examines our society's relationship with what we eat. That conversation can be monitored on Mackey's blog on the Whole Foods site.

And now, without further ado, this week's Commontary™:

Since its founding, the corporation has rapidly grown and seems to have lost that priority in the midst of growth and profit and has strayed far from the original Whole Foods Market ideals. I have recently discovered that these core values and standards are merely a method of marketing and each are disregarded if they disrupt or become obstacles toward profits. Whole Foods Market customers pay more for their products because they believe they are receiving what is promised and many believe in the company itself and what it stands for.

There are three items I wish to bring to consumers' attention through this announcement, which each contain ingredients that are listed as "unacceptable" under the Whole Foods Market Quality Standards. The tortilla wraps that are used for making sandwiches and Prepared Foods items at Whole Foods arrive to our store in wrappers that clearly state they contain "partially hydrogenated oil," which we claim not to allow. The second item is our "authentic" Italian prosciutto, served in the Prepared Foods deli, which contains nitrates, one of the ingredients we claim our meats to be free from. The final item, through Mid States Dairy, is Sealtest Milk in the dairy aisle. This type of milk may be loaded with growth hormones, as no guarantee is provided by our suppliers and for our customers. Although Whole Foods adamantly vows to prohibit milk with hormones and declares this claim openly to the public, the small sign that explains the possibility of hormones is deemed appropriate enough for the customer's education and interest.

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