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  • Whole Foods

    I've been doing all my shopping at Whole Foods since I started PR. I always go for Organic when available. For meats, I go for grass fed when possible, but otherwise just get the regular organic meats and wild fish. How organic is their food really? Is shopping there overall pretty good, or should I be looking elsewhere?

  • #2
    I love Whole Foods, they're just so expensive. As far as how organic, I guess it's just...organic. Although all their meats are at least 90% grass fed, so you can't go wrong there.

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    • #3
      I overheard an employee say that their grass-fed meats are actually grass-finished, and that the "regular" cuts come from grass-fed, corn-finished animals. I'm not sure how valid that bit of information is, though.

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      • #4
        You can do SO much better price-wise, quality-wise, and freshness-wise. Where do you live?
        "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." -- Hippocrates

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        • #5
          Their food is OK, prices are occasionally outrageous. Do you have Fresh & Easy in your area?

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          • #6
            I go there for certain things, but I don't buy everything there. As already stated, some of the prices are pretty high. I buy canned tuna, coconut milk, and lettuces mostly. The one near my office has pretty decent prices on chicken as well.

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            • #7
              You're mostly paying for quality and convenience when you shop at Whole Foods. As awesome as "cowpooling" is, it doesn't always work for everyone. If you really get to know your local WF, you can find plenty of decently-priced items.

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              • #8
                *Answering as a former WFM employee (8 consecutive yrs with the company ending in January 2010)*
                How organic is their food really? Is shopping there overall pretty good, or should I be looking elsewhere?
                Love them or hate them, Whole Foods pioneered, helped write, and pushed through from concept to reality the current national laws regarding certified organic product, and they were the first grocery retailer to become a certified organic grocer (which wasn't as hard as it sounds, given that they did help write those laws and thus knew what they had to do to come into compliance the same day that the law went into effect).

                Their organic products - indeed all their products - go through extensive vetting, with national and regional Whole Foods reps visiting and inspecting the farms and production facilities before taking on a product to sell. And their seafood program is unparalleled for freshness and sustainability. Indeed, all their wild caught fish is always *top catch* (that is, they only buy fish caught on the last day the boat went out - obviously this rule doesn't apply to their farm raised selections).

                I overheard an employee say that their grass-fed meats are actually grass-finished, and that the "regular" cuts come from grass-fed, corn-finished animals. I'm not sure how valid that bit of information is, though.
                Their meat is also very high quality, IMO, but yeah, the grass fed and finished is best. Regarding whether their other meat is grass fed and grain finished - the short answer is *ish* - all the cattle they source beef from is pastured, so they do get plenty of grass and plenty of room to move, etc, but they also get a supplemental diet of grain throughout their lives and they are finished almost exclusively on grains.

                All that said, Whole Foods' prices are often six steps past silly and you can generally get better quality fresher product from local farms, farmers' markets, etc . . . and at a much better price (though the last year I was there they were making a big push to carry as many local products as they could get their hands on, so it is still easy to get local produce, eggs, even meat - though marked up at Whole Foods prices).

                As for the seafood, most regular grocery stores offer frozen wild caught seafood fillets and steaks that were frozen right on the boat the day they were caught, which equates somewhat with Whole Foods' *top catch* policy and they're waaay less expensive.

                I am fortunate in that I got in on the ground floor with a local couple this past year who are opening a grocery store that sources produce, dairy, eggs, pork, poultry, beef, lamb, and even bison from local farms - the bison and beef are both grass fed & grass finished, which is awesome. The lamb as well.

                I will still shop WFM (I have one within an hour to the south of me, to the west of me, and several within an hour and a half to the north) for fresh seafood year round (if I don't want frozen) and in the fall Icelandic Lamb (they still have exclusive rights to sell it retail in the states - though I understand it is also available at certain restaurants in New York). I will also buy my aged cheeses - particularly European cheeses - at WFM, but that is a twice a year trip at best.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by DianeThePurple View Post
                  Their food is OK, prices are occasionally outrageous. Do you have Fresh & Easy in your area?
                  Fresh & Easy is NO BUENO! It's the American Tesco. Tesco is well known for having violated laws across the world by labeling some products as "organic" when they are conventional.

                  Whole Foods is super expensive. I only buy stuff there that I can't possibly find anywhere else. If you live in a big city you'll probably be able to find alternatives. I found a local alternative to Whole Foods just in the next neighborhood over. On my first visit I met the owner and got all the deets on their meat, eggs, etc. The transparency of a local business is way more available than at a place like Whole Foods.
                  I don't own a scale and don't care to!

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                  • #10
                    Oddly for things like Kerrygold butter WF is just as cheap as Trader Joe's and I was going there for awhile....but then Costco started carrying kerrygold so I probably only go to WF about once a month. Their coconut milk is also the cheapest I have found, especially if I were to go case price.

                    For meat there arent many options where I am unless I am willing to buy 1/4 cow or 1/2 pig and I just dont have the freezer space for that right now. Plus there are a lot of cuts I am not that fond of. There is a local buffalo farm but everytime I have gotten meat from them its not from their farm. (?)

                    There is another store that I like better (New Seasons) but the meat selection is small and almost WF prices. For fatty meat like ground beef I am willing to pay for grass fed, but I find it hard to justify grass fed filet mignon. I buy it from costco and take an extra fish oil pill.

                    I buy the wild salmon and cod from Costco...they do the on the boat flash freezing.

                    I get about 1/2 my eggs from a local farm but they have limited availability.


                    I lived in Austin TX when whole foods opened up. I remember just walking around in awe. It was shopping Nirvana. I coudnt afford anything but I liked to window shop there.
                    MTA: because it is rare I dont have more to say

                    "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - my daughter Age 7

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                    • #11
                      I agree it's super expensive, I mean it costs more to buy the ingredients that it does to go eat at a fancy restaurant in many cases. But to me it's worth the price for the convince of getting everything from 1 place and knowing that there are locations practically everywhere. No matter where I am or what I'm doing throughout the day I can always find one on my way home. I also like their selection and that they put nutrition scores on all their foods and often turn me on to new foods I didn't think to try. My only concern was whether their prices were really justified and if I was getting quality there or not? If I am, I really don't mind paying for it, there's really nothing more important for me to spend my money on than my health and well being.

                      But I'm open to other suggestions. Where else should I try? I don't want to have to drive to several stores to get my groceries or drive too far, but if there are other places I should check out that I'd love to hear about them. I live in Boston, MA.

                      Thanks!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TigerLily View Post
                        You can do SO much better price-wise, quality-wise, and freshness-wise. Where do you live?
                        Boston

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                        • #13
                          Do you have a local food co-op? Almost everywhere I've lived (NM, IL, CA, OR) has at least one and they tend to be awesome about their sourcing and the employees are always helpful and knowledgeable. Prices...mmm...probably comparable to WF, but they often have good deals. You usually don't have to be a member to shop at one. My co-op is just about the only place I shop anymore, other than direct local sources and Farmers Markets.
                          The Paleo Periodical
                          It's not a Diet. It's a lifestyle.

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                          • #14
                            Boston?! There are a TON of meat CSAs in Massachusetts you could join for grass-fed meat every month... check localharvest.org. And I'm sure there are farmer's markets where farmers from surrounding areas come to Boston for that you can find on that website too.

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                            • #15
                              One thing that annoys me about WF is the fact that a lot of their 365 branded products are not organic. Shouldn't they be walking the walk with their own products?

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