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Thread: Can I Trust Whole Foods? page

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    Artbuc's Avatar
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    Can I Trust Whole Foods?

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    Since they misinformed me about their ground bison (hopefuly an honest mistake), I wonder if I can trust that their grass-fed ground beef is truly 100% grass-fed and not grain finished? Our Whole Foods store is brand new so I have almost no shopping experience with them. They look like a reputable outfit but was hoping you folks could give me some feedback. Thanks.

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    BillVick's Avatar
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    I bought some ground grass fed beef and yet when cooked it never lost it's red color. Turns out it was dyed. Do not trust them.

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    Artbuc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillVick View Post
    I bought some ground grass fed beef and yet when cooked it never lost it's red color. Turns out it was dyed. Do not trust them.
    Interesting. The grass-fed ground beef I bought turned brown (on the outside) in less than 48 hours in the frig. No dye in mine. Maybe quality varies store-to-store?

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    If Whole Foods sold you dyed meat then one of their vendors got one over on them. It is not their policy to sell dyed meat - period, (speaking as an 8yr employee) and they are usually good at catching stuff like that given how often national and regional reps inspect vendor facilities.

    @ the OP - it is very possible one of the regular TMs told you wrong info about the bison, particularly if it's a new store. I opened 2 new stores with Whole Foods - Dublin, Ohio & Richmond, Virginia - and while they try to make sure at least 1/3 of the employees are old hands with WFM the new people are invariably culled from local Giants, Krogers, Piggly-Wigglys, whathaveyou.

    Look for the green sticker that actually says *Grass Fed* - if it has that it's grass fed/grass finished unless they've changed some major longstanding policies in the 2 years since I've left them (I don't think they have - I do still shop with them occasionally).

    The other option is look into local farms. I'm in VA so farms abound; we have 6 within 30 miles of where I live that sell grass fed/grass finished beef and lamb and even one bison farm that is grass fed/finished and several farms offer free range pig and chicken and unpasteurized eggs.

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    Artbuc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brahnamin View Post
    Look for the green sticker that actually says *Grass Fed* - if it has that it's grass fed/grass finished unless they've changed some major longstanding policies in the 2 years since I've left them (I don't think they have - I do still shop with them occasionally).
    Thanks. The grass-fed ground beef was displayed in bulk and the butcher weighed some out for me. No package label to read. I am lucky in that I have found a 100% grass-fed beef farm less than 10 miles from me and a Pa based grass-fed bison farmer sells at a farmer's market about 25 miles away. Sometime next week I should have product from both.

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    On the signs next to the meat in the cooler you'll see different color stickers. Some are Green, some are Orange. They all say something like, "Stage 3, Stage 4", etc and there should be a huge display on the front of the glass that tells you what they all mean.

    Most all of the fresh stuff is sourced "locally", at least to a degree. I know that my Whole Foods never seems to bring in beef any farther out than from Tennessee (I'm in Alabama). Whole Foods doesn't play around with what they put on the shelves. Granted, a lot of it is trash by our standards, but they typically do a good job of policing themselves.

    You're doing a good thing by sticking to farmers markets. I'll go to Whole Foods for beef in a pinch, but in general I stick to sources I'm more familiar with. I put down a deposit for a half a cow earlier today at a farmer's market. Stick to farmer's market's and support the local guy when you can, and in general, don't be afraid of what's out there at a Whole Foods or an Earth Fare. I think you just got misinformed by an employee that didn't know any better. Realistically, bison tends to be leaner so I wouldn't worry about Omega 6's in it from time to time. Hell, I buy a pound of it every 5 or 6 weeks or so for burgers as a treat since I'm a huge fan of the taste.

    There are far worse things out there to consume on rare occasion, so don't sweat the mistake.

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    MrsC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artbuc View Post
    I wonder if I can trust that their grass-fed ground beef is truly 100% grass-fed and not grain finished?
    Our Whole Foods (Louisville, KY) sells both types: 100% grass-fed and grass-fed/grain-finished. The 100% grass-fed tends to sell out quicker. I think they're both locally sourced (meaning they're from around this area or neighboring states, not Brazil, lol).

    The grain-finished is a lot tastier, though.
    Last edited by MrsC; 07-07-2012 at 02:58 PM.

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    Grumpycakes's Avatar
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    As a rule, any chain store is suspect until proven trustworthy.
    You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!

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    I also worked at a WF for a while- they are pretty picky about what they put on the shelves, for the most part, and they will drop vendors if they find a problem, to the point of pulling every product off the shelf from that vendor, in all the stores that stock it. I was told a story about one of the guys in my store tracking the origins of a turkey for a customer. He found it had been alive on the farm not two weeks prior.

    They sell their store as a place to get high-quality, sustainably-sourced products. If you are really concerned, see if you can talk to the meat department manager, or even the store manager. One of their basic tenets is helping people make informed choices, and they do a fair amount of training regarding the types and origins of their products. At the very least, management would want to know if someone gave you bad information, so that they can make sure everyone is putting out the correct stuff.

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    brahnamin's Avatar
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    Re - *Local* @ WFM - Whole Foods definition of local is loosely anything that can be trucked in in one day - or about 300-400 miles - from the source. They will favor quality over closeness, but as much as they can they favor closer producers. The Richmond, VA WFM is surrounded by literally hundreds of farms within 50 miles of the store, and they bring in local products from those farms from produce to meats to soaps and other natural artisan items. But stuff from southern PA and northCacalacka also get labeled *Local* . . .

    In line with what Grumpycakes and jfreaksho point out - *Suspect until proven worthy* is a good rule to go by no matter where you shop. And any WFM should be willing to answer your questions on up to store management level and they should indeed be able to document *any* product from store back to source and will provide that documentation on request. That's national policy for them.

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