The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Let Them Eat Cake

Students discuss Erewhon Market’s branding and how it affects the school community’s overall perception of its food and the store itself.

On her break from her job at ChaCha Matcha on Abbott Kinney Blvd. in Venice Beach, Katie Chambers ’25 walked a few blocks to the Erewhon Market (Erewhon) down the street to grab something to eat. As she strolled the aisles, she was not surprised by the prices as she had been the first time she’d gone: Chambers had become accustomed to the relatively high food prices found at Erewhon. She also wasn’t shocked to see the different products  Erewhon sold. Among the standard grocery items were more niche ones: raw whole milk ($19.99), blue pearl almond milk ($15.00) and holi(mane) Collagen & Pearl Powder Hair Skin Nails ($99.00). 

Erewhon’s Website’s About Us section is revealing of both the store’s driving ethos and its perception of itself: “We are more than your local grocery store; we are a community of people who are united in our love for pure products that protect the health of people and our planet.”

Chambers said that in addition to being a grocery store, Erewhon is a popular hang-out spot for students of the school.

“I probably go two to three times a week,” Chambers said. “I one hundred percent believe that Erewhon is a social activity at HW. I can’t even count how many times after school I went to Erewhon with my friends and saw half the grade there.”

While Erewhon does sell produce and meat like other grocery stores, their hot bar is the subject of much student attention, according to Chambers.  When she goes to Erewhon, Chambers said she likes to get a hot bar combo plate, which includes a protein and two sides, such as organic brown rice balls and organic garlic sauteed green beans with melted tomatoes. 

Chambers said that despite the high cost of products at Erewhon, she still likes to get her lunch there when she works.

“It’s obviously really expensive,” Chambers said. “It’s just really convenient because I don’t have that much time to go to a sit down restaurant. The hot bar is really good, and there’s also so much variety. The convenience and quality of food definitely makes it more appealing than other grocery stores. I just like the fact that I will get a well-balanced meal but not have to put that much effort into thinking about it.”

The Balenciaga Fall 2024 fashion show skyrocketed the grocery store to haute-couture fame, as the show featured Kim Kardashian and other prominent models carrying Erewhon grocery bags, according to Hollywood Reporter. The Erewhon-Balenciaga partnership culminated in a limited juice that comes in a signature Balenciaga-style black jar.

Chambers said she purchased the Balenciaga-Erewhon juice, which was in very high demand, and was underwhelmed by its generic flavor.

“It tasted like a turmeric health shot,” Chambers said. “It wasn’t bad, but I would never buy it again. It was also $14 which is pretty expensive for juice. It was really hard to get. All morning we were on the phone with Erewhon, [asking], ‘When are you gonna restock the juice? Like we need this juice.” But, we finally got it. The bottle is super cool.” 

 Lily Tamkin ’25 said she feels this aesthetic is what draws students and A-listers to the market.

“Branding for sure [sets Erewhon apart from other supermarkets],” Tamkin said. “There are always celebrities there. I actually saw Ross Lynch there the other day. Going there feels like a social activity a lot of the time.”

Part of Erewhon’s appeal is its claim to health, which can be seen by looking on its website, where it says “at Erewhon, we believe that nutrition is the key to a radiant lifestyle.” Ben Boateng ’25 said he feels the food he purchases at Erewhon is always nutritious.

“I think it’s healthy,” Boateng said. “I don’t think I’ve seen one thing at Erewhon that doesn’t work wonders for you, and I don’t second guess Erewhon’s ability to say if something is healthy because everything there is.”

Noa Blackman ’25 said the hot bar and promise of health are what draw her to Erewhon.

“It’s so expensive, but then you feel healthy,” Blackman said. “The hot bar is different from supermarkets. It’s like having so many of the tasters from Trader Joe’s, but it’s so expensive.”

 Blackman said she actively chooses to view Erewhon as a healthy supermarket, despite the fact that there are some unhealthy food options.

“I forced myself to think that it’s healthy,” Blackman said. “I feel like everything’s super organic. I do believe that everything is pretty organic, but if you choose only the stuff that is kind of unhealthy [then it’s not going to be healthy]. They do make these great salads, which are something I actually really look forward to eating, though.”

Glory Ho ’24 said she feels that Erewhon products are good for her because of their appearance.

“I think the food is pretty healthy, at least it’s definitely marketed as such,” Ho said. “All the foods are labeled ‘organic’ or something like that, and they’re presented really nicely, so it all feels really healthy.”

Blackman said foods branded as healthy can actually be surprisingly detrimental to someone’s general health.

“I feel pretty knowledgeable on what is unhealthy and what is healthy,” Blackman said. “I love peanut butter. But, peanut butter is not good for you. It’s just so processed. Same with oat milk and oatmeal. It’s been presented as a healthy thing, but it just raises your insulin and makes you more hungry.”

Tamkin said while she does think that Erewhon’s food is healthy, society’s general view of the grocery store could contribute to that fact.

“I think it’s pretty healthy,” Tamkin said. “They use good quality ingredients, but they could just be using their branding to make unhealthy foods seem healthy. I would say that society has definitely defined what is ‘healthy’ versus what is ‘unhealthy,’ and society has decided that Erewhon is healthy. I would feel healthy walking around with an Erewhon smoothie but feel unhealthy with a McDonald’s milkshake even though they have around the same sugar content.”

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Sasha Aghnatios, Assistant A&E Editor
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