An Indigenous TikToker is accusing Whole Foods of cultural appropriation because the company’s grocery stores sell white sage.
In the video, which had over 16,000 likes by Thursday, TikToker @naturedirectco showed white sage being sold in the grocery store aisle. “I was shopping at Whole Foods when I saw this white washed, stolen medicine for sale and had to say something,” the user said.
The TikToker then explains how blue sage and rosemary should be used for smoke cleansing, while white sage and smudging are for “closed practice.”
In the comments, some people defended using white sage, while others agreed with the creator.
“‘Everybody can use plants’ does not mean everyone is educated and prepared to perform a specific ceremony that they are not welcome to, folks,'” @hearthsandhedges commented.
Burning sage, or smudging, is a sacred medicinal practice used to cleanse or purify and is an important part of some Indigenous cultures.
By making sage trendy and profiting from it, non-Indigenous retailers erase the deep-seated historical and spiritual roots of the practice. It’s part of a larger issue of for-profit retailers culturally appropriating parts of Indigenous culture, like headdresses, while due to colonization, Indigenous people face higher rates of mass incarceration, poverty, and land disparities.
The creator of the TikTok owns Nature Direct Co., an Arizona-based ethical crystal shop that also seeks to respect cultural traditions.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Whole Foods for comment.
Update 11:56 am CT Nov. 16: In a statement to the Daily Dot, the TikToker said disrespecting cultures has become “normalized.”
“When we think of “wellness,” “self-care,” and “cleansing” we might consider smudging with sage or palo santo to be an integral piece to that,” the user said. “We need to band together and look beyond our own self-care routines to consider the detrimental impacts that these might have on other people. Individuals need to do their own research, even about their culture and heritage, as there may likely be practices that their ancestors took part in; this is a better alternative than using practices that are sacred to other cultures.”
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