Whole Foods: The Walmart of Healthfood

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist March 13, 2012

I just found out today that a Whole Foods is going to be built close to my neighborhood.

Very close.

While many crunchy, green mamas might rejoice at Whole Foods coming to town, I am in mourning because Whole Foods is basically on par with your “neighborhood”  Walmart.

There is nothing “neighborly” about Walmart or Whole Foods.

What a joke.

Whole Foods is just another cutthroat Corporate Bully dressed in organic, “let’s save the world”, “buy local” disguise with the shareholders in full throttle, profit taking control.

While Whole Foods is undoubtedly counting on health conscious Moms like me in the neighborhood cha-chinging away at the brand spanking new registers, let me just share with you that you won’t see The Healthy Home Economist browsing the aisles there.

I’ll be shopping at the 2 small, local healthfood stores less than a mile away where I’ve shopped for the past 15 years.   That’s where my business loyalty lies.

I spend almost all my food money with local businesses and local farms.  Not Whole Foods.

How could I possibly rationalize shopping at Whole Foods which has recently rolled over on the GMO issue in the United States by suggesting that we all need to “learn to live with GMO’s” by accepting the USDAs proposal for “peaceful” coexistence between organics and genetically modified foods?

Here is Whole Foods’ official statement on the matter:

The reality is that no grocery store in the United States, no matter what size or type of business, can claim they are GMO-free. While we have been and will continue to be staunch supporters of non-GMO foods, we are not going to mislead our customers with an inaccurate claim (and you should question anyone who does). Here’s why: the pervasive planting of GMO crops in the U.S. and their subsequent use in our national food supply.  93% of soy, 86% of corn, 93% of cotton, and 93% of canola seed planted in the U.S. in 2010 were genetically engineered. Since these crops are commonly present in a wide variety of foods, a GMO-free store is currently not possible in the U.S. (Unless the store sells only organic foods.)

Since the U. S. national organic standards do not allow the use of GMO ingredients and practices in the growing or production of organic foods, choosing organic is one way consumers can avoid GMO foods. The other is through labeling, of which we are strong supporters. 

Hey Whole Foods, here’s a novel idea:   How about selling only organic and local foods then?  That would solve the problem nicely wouldn’t it?

I don’t know about you, but that statement screams “sell-out” to me.  Even more damaging, Whole Foods recently endorsed the peaceful coexistence option with regard to GE alfalfa rather than an outright ban.  The unrestricted planting of GE alfalfa that starts as early as this spring threatens the entire grassfeeding dairy industry over the long term as alfalfa hay is an integral part of winter feeding.

Whole Foods is all about corporate profits and management can shade it and couch it any way they like, but the message is loud and clear:  corporate profit and shareholder gains are more important than sticking to the basic sustainability ideals Whole Foods was founded upon.

Do you want your neighborhood healthfood stores and farmer’s markets to suffer revenue losses from business ruthlessly stripped away by a Whole Foods coming to town?

If not, you can choose to stay away like me and treat Whole Foods like just another supermarket or Walmart:  a place of last resort where budget dollars are rarely if ever spent.

Note: as of July 2012, it appears that Whole Foods is still sourcing much of its “organic” produce from China which provides further verification of the video below.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

 

Comments (376)

  1. I completely agree with you! We have Jimbos close to us and it gets a ton of its produce from local organic farms and I love it! The owner comes in frequently. There is no GMO garbage and it is priced SO much more reasonably than Whole Foods. We went into a Whole Foods several months ago and my husband told me I should never shop there. The priced were exorbitant.
    Lori\’s last post: Strong Willed Children

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    • Jimbo’s is reasonable? Are you kidding? I find it to be just as expensive as WF. In fact, I think I walk out with a smaller price-tag at WF than Jimbo’s. And SPROUTS – SELL OUT, not to mention even the small stores are selling horrible additive laden packaged stuff these days.
      allison\’s last post: Healthy Creations Review

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          • I dislike generalizations like this; they’re just not true. Whereas almost all of Walmart’s crap is Chinese because their only desire is to keep their prices low while WF has some Chinese crap, but it’s not all of their wide variety of products; they have lots of healthy options. I don’t even trust the organic produce that Walmart sells.

          • Whole foods does sell “certified organic” foods from China (which is not regulated as certifiable organic) in their 360 brand frozen food. Sad yes, but they have kind of moved away from their “buy local” model.

          • But Rachel, the point is that Whole foods puts on a vale of “trust”….that you can believe everything in their store is “organic” “whole” food and is safe but it’s NOT, no more than Walmart can be trusted. Again if you search through their store you will find loads and loads of canola and soy in everything…why???? BECAUSE IT’S CHEAP! It is NOT a healthy or “whole” food! Why is their hot bar and deli and bakery full of all NON organic foods? The difference is that people EXPECT that out of Walmart…but no say it ain’t so, Whole Foods wouldn’t do that to me!

  2. I do buy some produce from Wal-mart, but only because it’s pretty much impossible to buy it local (avocados, bananas, oranges). IMO, non-organic is fine with these, so I’m not going to pay nearly twice as much to get the organic kind from Whole Foods.

    Reply
    • Non-organic may be fine if you are only worried about what you are ingesting, but they are not fine if you care at all about the workers harvesting these crops or care at all about the poisons we are putting in the earth. Organic produce isn’t important only for the consumers, it is important for the whole food chain.

      Reply
  3. Sarah,

    Thanks for sharing this info. Even though I like their presence in MN because there is not much produce which grows in MN because of cold weather. This article will help me seek more local choices. In summer and fall I hardly visit Whole Foods because I have made goods farmer friends at Farmer’s Market.

    -Dharm

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  4. Shoppers have to be seekers .. not suckers. Today I was checking out a company that sells dried sour cherries from Michigan. I sent them an email asking if they were sweetened .. and if not that was good .. and if sweetened, what type of sweetener. The lady sent me two email me and the second one stated they contain beet sugar and a coating of sunflower oil. I sent her back a reply that how 100% of U.S beets are now GMO and a few informational links … and that I could not buy her cherries.
    Mrs. Mac\’s last post: Household Hints From the 1800′s

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  5. Whole foods is a rip off!!! Everything is marked way up, I don’t know why anyone would shop there if there was an alternative.

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  6. We’re getting a Trader Joe’s in the area, though it is still quite a drive for me to get there. What do you think of Trader Joe’s? It might be fun to go once in a while, but I’m sticking with my local health food store, farmers’ markets, farms, and a local co-op.
    Kate S.\’s last post: Unplug That Microwave!

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    • I’m curious as to what you think about Trader Joe’s too. They are pretty popular in other states and it’s my understanding that they are building one in Sarasota and one in Naples. They’re smaller chains and I haven’t heard the same negative things about them as I have about Whole Foods. I love supporting smaller local businesses as well but I wouldn’t mind having a Trader Joe’s around the corner too!
      Megan\’s last post: Your baby is HUUUGE!

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      • Our Trader Joes has a sign up in the back about not having GMO, HFCS .. etc. But they also sell non organic corn products, and I’ve even seen ‘Raw’ milk cheese that in fine print says ultra-pasteurized … I shop there once in a while .. they have the best prices on Kerrygold butter, and some organic produce, etc.
        Mrs. Mac\’s last post: Household Hints From the 1800′s

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      • I have to chime in here on Trader Joes. We have one nearby and its nothing more than junk food in “healthy” looking wrapper. I searched the shelves for some healthy products and it was far worse than Whole Foods. At least Whole Foods sells some local produce (at least in our area they do) and its labeled as such. The problem is that its only rarely organic. I shop at Whole Foods and Mom’s (My Organic Market) and the local Farmer’s Markets. (I’m in the Balto/Annap/D.C. area) Between the 3 stores, and lots of label reading, I can find most of what I’m looking for. (We belong to a co-op and a local CSA, thankfully.)
        Oh, and btw, the Amish Market in our area is worse than Trader Joes! Being in an Amish market, doesn’t make the re-packaged Fruit Loops in a baggy with an Amish label healthy. Last time I was there they could not even identify which farm any of their butter or cheese was from! Yikes!

        Suzanne

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        • Maybe the Trader Joe’s sell different items based on location? I’m in San Diego and my local TJ sells lots of healthy food, much of it organic. Sprouted bread, grass fed beef, kerrygold butter, tons of organic produce…all at better prices than anywhere else I cand find. Like anywhere else, one needs to use his/her judgement on what to buy. When shopping for healthy food, I need to buy from a variety of sources–CSA, grass fed beef share, CostCo, Trader Joe’s, VitaCost.

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        • A friend of mine in PA told me about a Mennonite “health food” market that sells local organic produce and quality grains in bulk along side 50 lb bags of that orange cheese powder you get in boxed mac and cheese!
          Kate S.\’s last post: Unplug That Microwave!

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        • I’ve shopped at Trader Joe’s for awhile. They have some stuff that’s good…sprouted bread, Kerrygold butter and some other things. If you’re on a budget, their prices are lower.

          But, although they have stated that they don’t sell food that contains GMOs, there are a few non-Trader Joe’s brand foods in there that DO have GMOs in them.

          Whole Foods has emphatically claimed that they don’t have GMOs in their non-organic foods. In tests, their non-organic foods have GMOs in them. Kinda sad, you really just have to buy organic foods to stay away from the GMOs.
          Beth\’s last post: Get Your Glow Back: Week 4 (Healing My Hormones)

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      • I am a Trader Joe’s foe. I live in California and some people think it is a gift from the almighty. honestly – everything is packaged (whole food no-no #1), produce is from around the globe (eat local no-no #2), and their stuff rots within a day or two (freshness sin #3). Sorry but they are below Whole Foods on my list. Would love to drive to the Co-Op weekly but it is over an hour away. Instead, farmer’s markets, my milk man (raw goat milk, kefir, cheese), and CSA will have to do – and yes, I have to fill in the gaps with WFM – oh well.
        allison\’s last post: Healthy Creations Review

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    • Kate,
      Trader Joe’s is likely to disappoint you if you are used to farmer’s markets and local co-ops. At Trader Joe’s you will find virtually every produce item wrapped-individually or in sets; the organic section is no larger than that of a nearby conventional grocer; and most of the store is packaged foodstuff. It is more of a gourmet food store than a health food store. It got popular in NorCal some years ago for some innovative stuff it was doing, but now the only reason to go is for the Two Buck Chuck…cheap wine.

      Reply
  7. For those of us who have little to no options, I would gladly embrace a WF. I use to have one where I use to live and I miss it terribly. I now live in the middle of a chemical waste dump called the Midwest and I have corn/soy fields all around my property. Organic is hard to find. I did cartwheels when Walmart started to carry a limited supply of organic vegetables. I have to drive 50 miles to get to the nearest local health food store and really, it’s no different than WF, just smaller. The produce isn’t nearly as nice, just as expensive and I’d rather not buy it. They have just as much processed food as WF. This goes for the co-op, too. While I go there first when doing my shopping, I miss WF. AT least their produce is beautiful and fresh looking. They sell Applegate lunchmeats. Try to find a better brand. I haven’t. The selection of raw cheeses, etc. If one stays out of the middle aisles, like in any grocery store, you do ok.

    I am a huge gardener and put up most of what we need. We raise our own meat and dairy, both goat and cow milk. FResh eggs everyday. I cook and prepare food, it’s my job. It doesn’t get any better than this. But most people don’t do this. Most people don’t even bother with a garden anymore. So the groceries have to accomodate the general public. Most people do NOT want to make their own stocks, ferment their food and they also want it on a silver platter. Most don’t even care about it being organic. I throw my hands up sometimes, but they come crawling when they are sick.

    I would gladly endorse a WF, at least it’s a huge step up from what we have around here. The local groceries don’t even carry anything organic much less local. And if it was local, I wouldn’t want it, loaded with chemicals. But I know a WF would never show itself around here. The population wouldn’t support it. They want their junk food!

    Also, I do participate in a local farmer’s market (about four people show up to set up!) and when I bring my fresh produce, I get “What’s that? What do you do with that?!” sigh. This year, I will bring recipe cards!

    Reply
    • Ann, even though Whole Foods is expensive with some foods, I would give a lot of have one out here where I live, too. I live in Grand Junction, CO and I live for the times we make the 5 hour drive over to Denver where at least I can get grass fed meats, happy chickens, and lots of variety that I can’t get anywhere else locally. I know how to shop and I avoid all of their non-organic produce and foods from China. It’s all about choice and I vote with my dollars. All we have out here is a Vitamin Cottage that recently decided to call themselves Natural Grocers and they are as expensive as WF plus they are always out of things that I need. The local small healthfood stores around here are way too expensive for my budget. Many people here raise their own chickens and sell eggs, but even that’s not so good for me because most of them use feed that is GMO because it’s cheaper than organic/non-gmo at the store because there’s no competition. Our farmers’ markets in the area are focused on selling Chinese chatzka (sp) crap and local, sprayed produce. To get any local organic produce, I drive out of my city to Moab, UT, a 1.5 hour drive because out of their 6 vendors, they are all organic and locally grown . I’m just happy that I finally got to join a CSA for my vegetables, Little things…

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      • Rachel, do you mean the farmers’ market in Moab? I’m an hour from there and am new to this so I’m looking for locally produced food. It’s not readily available where I am either. No raw milk for us, unfortunately.

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    • I agree with you. I live in Southwestern Ohio and it’s impossible to find organic groceries unless you shop at a super Kroger or Whole Foods. I get raw milk, eggs, yogurt and pasture animals from local farms as well as summer produce but what do you do in the winter??? Either I get my organic produce from whole foods are my family doesn’t eat veggies and fruit in the winter. I’ve searched high and low for organically raised apples and berries and there are none out here- only at Whole Foods and Kroger. I couldn’t get coconut sugar, fair trade chocolate, Kerrygold butter, raw cheeses or many other items if it weren’t for Whole Foods. Obviously I can’t buy wild caught salmon in Cincinnati so I buy it at Whole Foods. I don’t buy any of their meat or packaged and processed food items but I rely on them for staples. My local health food store is about the size of my dining room, overpriced and never has anything I need. For those of us with few options Whole Foods fills a need. Are they a perfect choice…no, but at least they give me the choice of feeding my family the way I want.

      Reply
        • Angie, In Ohio you have to own part of the herd to be able to drink raw milk. You enter into a private contract with a farmer who has a herd. Since you then own part of the herd, you can drink your own milk. Just as if you bought a horse and couldn’t store it in your backyard, you pay the farmer a boarding fee for keeping your cow. The farmer returns milk to you for the boarding fee.

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    • We lived in a small town in New Mexico that only had a teeny-tiny, expensive health food store. And the local farmers and ranchers didn’t have good stuff, although a lady at an ice cream shop sold hormone and antibiotic free beef. :)

      When we moved to California, I thought I was in heaven to finally be living so close to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s AND a few awesome year-round open air markets. It can be tough when healthy food options are limited.

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  8. Hi Sarah,
    So many times I’ve wanted to comment and haven’t, but this time I decided to voice my opinion…Once before I asked you about sharing your sources of produce, meat, etc. to people who live in your area since you’re the WAPF Chapter Leader, and you said the reason you don’t is because it would be annoying to the farmers as they get enough business. (With the exception of the milk farmer, and the reason is to protect his/her privacy.) While I can appreciate that reasoning (and fully understand not exposing the milk farmer), it is also a little frustrating to me. I’ve done hours and hours of my own research and have used the WAPF Shopping guide as a resource. I found a local farm to purchase eggs and chicken, and different health food stores in the Tampa area to purchase other things. However, there are some things I can’t find at all except for Whole Foods. And finding real, local, grassfed butter is like finding a needle in a haystack–I’ve had no luck with that yet. So I am glad that Whole Foods is an option for me for certain items, notwithstanding its faults.
    Michele

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist March 14, 2012 at 11:01 am

      I don’t share sources on this blog for the privacy of our farmers. I do send out my Chapter resource list to those that request it but many farms are not listed at their request. That is their prerogative. I have no right to be sharing info for farmers that don’t want it shared.

      I also do not share where I PERSONALLY buy my stuff. People ask me all the time where I buy this and that and if I shared it, that would be problem for my sources getting flooded with unwanted calls.

      Reply
      • You choose not to shop at Whole Foods because of your beliefs, and that is certainly your right. But I agree with what another reader said–your tone sounds a bit harsh when you reply to others who have differing opinions. You already explained why you don’t share your sources, as I mentioned in my post, and I understand. But you’re right, you do have many more years of experience locating other sources than some of the rest of us, and it takes time for those of us who don’t have your same knowledge to find other alternatives and to figure things out on our own. Surely you can’t find fault in that. Is your Chapter resource list geared toward local sources, and/or any different than the WAPF Shopping Guide?

        Reply
        • I agree that sometimes the tone is harsh. I came across this blog and found it interesting because it had some information I’d never heard of before, and I love learning more and more about real food and its benefits. But often instead of feeling enlightened and inspired and excited about the new knowledge, I almost feel ashamed and guilty! for example, with this particular topic. We aren’t all perfect, but yes this is a journey to make the world fair and happy and peaceful…where is the love?? isn’t that what really matters in the end? how we treat one another? what’s the point of being healthy if we can’t be nice people?

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          • Yes I also agree…… I sometimes feel stupid for not being able to get all this wonderful food and make my own butter. It is the feeling on here . Sometimes it’s not good. I know , I know I don’t have to be here ….but there is some useful info ‘at times’ …..

          • yes, but i do really like this blog. the more i read, the more i learn, really. we all just have to do our best and be kind to ourselves if we can’t always make our own butter, etc. :) positive energy is the most important factor in health and happiness, i think.

  9. Hi Sarah,

    I’m glad you posted this because people don’t realize they are getting suckered in by the pretty picture of Whole Foods. I remember the first time I went to a Whole Foods, after normally shopping at the regular grocery store, the produce looked heavenly. However, I have since found a better place to shop, at a local food co-op.

    Whole Foods is good in that they are heading in the right direction more so than regular grocery stores. They do make an effort to buy local produce in season. I know that the Whole Foods near my parent’s house buys from my parents CSA. (Although I’m sure they get their food ridiculously cheaper buying direct from the farm.)

    I would pick Whole Foods over the regular junky grocery stores any day. At the same time, people really need to pay attention to what they are buying, read labels, and not be deceived by the heroic image Whole Foods trys to display. In the end, they are really just trying to make a profit, and that will dictate what they sell.

    Reply
    • It’s a bit insulting to suggest that anyone reading this blog would be “suckered in by the pretty picture of Whole Foods.” It’s not a farm, it’s a big business and people who eat real foods should be completely aware of that. Yes, it would be a no-brainer to avoid it if everyone had access to great farms and co-ops, but we don’t live in that utopia.

      The problem I have with this article isn’t just that, however, since many others have pointed it out already. It’s that Sarah seems to simply reiterate (without a trace of nuance), as if we’re completely ignorant, that Whole Foods hasn’t retained its small business values since becoming a giant international corporation. Wow, what a shock.

      The people they employ and the sources they support are well worth buying from (when there’s limited choice), even if WF doesn’t have a perfect record. This reminds me of people who will outright refuse to visit certain countries because they don’t approve of everything the government does, and in the process shun the perfectly decent local people and businesses who might benefit from such tourism.

      This type of rhetoric is reminiscent of the black and white imaginations of hardcore vegans. It is difficult for me to take anything else she says too seriously, for fear she’s unable to differentiate between reality and a world where good and bad are easily distinguishable.

      Reply
  10. I shop at Whole Foods every single week and I’m grateful for them.

    I don’t personally agree with their vegan/vegetarian agenda but it doesn’t impact me one iota when I shop there, so in my mind, it’s a non-issue.

    As far as the No-GMO stance, that is something we are working on as an industry. I hope you will come to the next Natural Products ExpoWest conference where you will learn that this is something we are all committed to but it’s not so easy as just deciding to outlaw all GMO products from stores. The reality is, if we did that, then it would penalize a lot of producers who are really good but aren’t totally certified organic/GMO-free yet.

    Monsanto is the bad guy here. Why not write nasty posts about THEM instead of Whole Foods who is actually providing a valuable service for many of us.

    Why do I shop at Whole Foods? Because they have the best selection of stuff that I need. Bulk nuts and grains, grass-fed meat and dairy, wild-caught and sustainable seafood, organic foods, gluten-free crackers, natural personal care products, organic wine, unrefined sweeteners, etc. etc. etc.

    I see this same argument all over the internet lately. People saying they won’t buy from X because X is not perfect. X doesn’t keep their milk raw (although it is grass-fed) so I won’t buy it. X has their cows on pasture but they feed a little grain so I won’t buy their meat.

    One of the exhibitors said at ExpoWest, “People do better when they know better.”

    So much blaming going on. Can’t we all just appreciate what people are doing right and try to be grateful for what is good?
    Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE\’s last post: Real Food Kitchen Tour: Jody Brantley

    Reply
      • Do your local health food stores guarantee there is NO GMO in their store? If they don’t, they too are “Monsanto enabler’s” by your definition. And if they deny there’s GMO in their store (unless *every* item they carry is organic) I’d be very suspicious.

        Reply
        • I agree with the comment above. IF your local health food store is selling anything “natural” or non -organic, it is most likely selling something with GMOs in it. Whole Foods isn’t the only one selling products with GMOs in them.

          The only way your local health food store will stop enabling Monsanto is if they only sell organic food or they sell foods that are certified GMO-free (but I don’t believe any certification exists).

          Therefore, ANY store that sells non-organic food is a Monsanto-enabler.

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    • I’m with you, Ann Marie! We do the best we can with the circumstances we have. Monsanto is a monster, but there are lots of healthy choices at Whole Foods that have nothing to do with Monsanto. I haven’t bought corn since I moved to Grand Junction 12 years ago because I can’t find organic. During corn season they push Olathe sweet corn; it’s so popular through the entire state of Colorado and it’s Monsanto poison. Every single store, at least where I live, supports Monsanto to some degree. And not all of us have the option to grow our own!

      Reply
      • I read your info about the Olathe sweet corn. Kroger is selling it here in Indiana. Cannot find anyone who knows if it is GMO. I see your comment here about it being
        “Monsanto posion”. Is this true? Maybe you know more about it. Thanks!

        Reply
      • Oh for heaven’s sake. Hey Lisa! Any chance you have a public diary where we can hold your feet to the fire for commitments or belief made TWO YEARS ago? C’mon! It’ll be FUN! Hilarious. Seriously. Irrelevant but hilarious.

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        • It is one thing entirely to state you’ll never shop at WF again and then change your mind for whatever reasons you want. To each his own. It is another thing ENTIRELY to publicly criticize someone for stating their personal conviction not to shop at WF when you yourself had that same conviction two years ago. We can all disagree about whether WF is more good than bad. But yes, I find it highly hypocritical for Cheeseslave to blast The Healthy Home Economist the way she has given that she once held a very similar opinion of WF. It would be honorable of her to state that she once came to the same conclusion but has since changed her mind, then list her thoughts.

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    • I so agree with Ann Marie.
      I am grateful to the good food i get from whole foods. I also drive 3 hours to the farm to get meat, milk and other stuff. But, i cannot do that on a week day and there are many other things that i don’t get in the Farm or Farmers Market that i can get in Whole Foods. I appreciate and i am grateful. Dont forget Whole Foods is a Corporate.

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  11. I’ve read many good thoughtful comments on this page. My position is that we do NOT live in a perfect world and must do the best we can. With intellectual honesty and good information we can make good choices. WF has some better choices that other food stores and while I do not agree with their mission statement about GMO’s, they do offer alternative products for consumers who are informed. I’m grateful to have smaller local stores to shop along with local farms. This is why America needs to stand up and praise and support FREEDOM! WE still have choices…for now. Without them, we will wither away like other nations.
    cindy\’s last post: Statins Exposed

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    • I totally agree with you, Cindy. Some of us would be grateful to have so many options. We can, with our dollars, encourage larger businesses to carry better products. But I do believe that Sarah is trying to set the ideal, and for that I am thankful.

      Reply
        • It’s great that you have options… but many don’t! And for them, WF is still a welcome relief. I live in Austin, so WF is actually local for me… I’ve seen the company grow from a couple stores to nationwide offering organic options to people in areas where there previously were none. They also treat their employees very well, which absolutely differentiates them from WalMart. Nobody and no company is perfect and, yes, all companies have to make profits (or they go out of business… or the government bails them out, but that’s a completely different tangent) but Whole Foods is hardly on par with WalMart! I, too, am lucky to live in a place with a number of options. Whole Foods is certainly not at the top of the list (that would be farmer’s markets and farm stands), but they are MUCH higher on the list than WalMart!

          Reply
          • It seems as though companies aren’t allowed to grow and thrive, because once they do, they get labeled as “part of the problem”, evil, money-hungry, etc. I shop small businesses intentionally to support them, and I also gratefully have a WF a mile down the road and gladly give them my business for products that I believe are worthy of my money.

  12. This issue always makes me wonder why food producers are legally allowed to sell products in packaging that isn’t truthful in labeling and advertising that misleads. We all know that anything medicinal cannot claim things that the FDA hasn’t approved (even though they are wrong sometimes)…why so much false advertising? It honestly should not be this hard to be a consumer. I feel we are free in this country to make our own choices about what we buy and where we buy it so to put so much energy into hating stores isn’t necessary– let your dollars speak for you and become wise consumers.

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    • I should add that we also should have the freedom to live a life that does not include GMO foods so the government needs to step up and protect that freedom! If they don’t, then we may lose our choices altogether and there won’t be a good place to shop!

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  13. Sara I appreciate that you want to inform us to be aware where ever we shop. It is wrong for Wholefoods or any company to try and deceive by selling organic food made / grown in China without it clearly being labeled where it’s from and not even being able to prove that it’s organic. WF shoppers, I hope that you take a few minutes the next time you shop to leave a comment with the Manager regarding this.

    Reply
      • I think it has it’s purposes for different times in peoples lives. We just moved to a new state and have yet to source out all the local farms for purchasing our grass-fed meat, etc. We are slowly getting it, but until I figure everything out I’m grateful to have Whole Foods so that I can buy my kerrygold butter, my grass-fed beef, etc. During the winter months, when nothing grows in our cold state, I shop there for veggies. Not all of us are fortunate to live in states where produce is a year round business. Will I slowly ween off Whole Foods? You bet- as much as I am able. For encouraging people to do better, sometimes you can be a little harsh. You probably took baby-steps years ago when you first started, and should allow everyone else the freedom to do so as well.

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      • Sarah, this is an intereseting point. I’ve only been into real food since 2009. At first I shopped at Whole Foods a lot – at least once a week. Fortunately in 2009 a twice-monthly farmers market opened up in my neighborhood. Through that market I’ve developed relationships with local farmers, & I now buy most of my meat & eggs from local farmers, & raw milk & a lot of my dairy from a local farm. I’m able to do this even in the market off season directly through the farmers. During market season I buy produce at my farmers market, & I’ve started a vegetable garden in my backyard. I still shop at Whole Foods as well as a smaller chain that is new to my area (Natural Grocers), but I am finding that my reliance on Whole Foods is decreasing the longer I go on my real food journey. I can see that in several years I will seldom if ever shop at Whole Foods due to an increased awareness of local resource plus an awareness of what I can grow myself.

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      • Absolutely. I’ve been eating “whole” / “real” foods for nearly twenty years, and one of the reasons I was able to do it was because I moved to Austin and had close proximity to non-chemically laden “un”foods, courtesy of WFM. I continue to shop there weekly although I no longer live in Austin. I also shop at my local year-round farmers’ market, plus the three terrific natural food stores within a 5 mile radius of my two staple WFMs. And I grow veggies and herbs in my small intown plot, have berry bushes, etc.

        I have never found the argument “corporations are just in it to make money” to be a very compelling indictment of a company. Of course they need to make money. They owe it to their employees and stakeholders to be a viable business model. WFM was one of the first companies I witnessed that took things a step further with stated core values that talk about things like sustainability, “team members” as opposed to employees, etc.

        Do I think it’s a perfect place? Absolutely not. Like any corporation (or person, for that matter) WFM has things I would change.

        But do you know what I see when I go to shop there? I see aisles and aisles of products with ingredients that are food. I see boxes that DON’T feature commercialized messages to my children (save for a few Elmos here and there) which means my kids are not begging me to buy them the “XYZ” character food. I see team members that care about their customers and who generally seem happy with their workplace. I see MANY foods that are locally produced … from many of the same faces I see at my farmers’ market on Saturdays. And when I travel and visit a WFM in another city, I enjoy the exposure to their unique offerings. I find produce team members who apologize for the lack of organic grapefruits on their aisles but explain that the WFM model is to ship the produce as minimally as possible, therefore all the Texas Ruby Red organics get sold in TX and never make it outside the state.

        Again, it’s not a perfect place – what is? But I, for one, am thankful for the role the store has played in my wellness journey.

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      • Yes, you are wrong because for some reason, you make a grand statement as a generalized assumption. Generalizing about people’s lives is always wrong. We have been eating real and organic foods for over 30 years, since before it was “the thing to do” for health. And we love lots of thing about Whole Foods as I posted above.

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        • Sarah,
          An interesting point, I started out with Fresh Fields before Whole Foods took over the store. But I also explored all the small local grocers in my area as they were each appropriate for differnted reasons (close to work, during my vegan stint, etc.), eventually I found my way to WAPF, and a co-op. So, yes over time I found less, less use for WF – today, I don’t do any regular shopping there, as I prefer my farm food and MOM’s.

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      • Yes, we’ve been eating real foods for a long time. And I shop at Whole Foods. I get what I can at the farmer’s market (meat, veggies, eggs, etc), we grow some food and then get the rest at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. We have Sprouts up the street and I go there if I run out of butter.

        Having lived in small towns that don’t have a lot of access to real food, living relatively close to Whole Foods has been a blessing. Fortunately, in our small town, we had an expensive, limited health food store in our town, as well as a coop that someone put together (the first person to teach me about WAP). AND we had a local rancher that sold hormone-free, antibiotic-free beef. But, there were also things we couldn’t get and many people have even less choices where they live.

        When I shop at any health food store, I stay away from the packaged treats and snacks, I buy everything organic (because most non-organic foods at health food stores have GMOs), and I try not to buy things that I can get locally or grow myself. It saves money and is healthier for me and my family.

        I have been disappointed with Whole Foods many times. Their prices are high. They stepped down from supporting the raw milk farms in northern California. They are backing away from the GMO issues. But (as they explained when they stopped supporting the fight for raw milk in California), they are beholden to the interests of their shareholders. They are a large company and have to work with a lot of different politics when supporting different issues. It is not black and white.

        I do NOT agree with the politics of Whole Foods, but for my family’s health, I would rather shop there than my local grocery store (or Wal-Mart). We really don’t have smaller health food stores in our area, because of the popularity of the larger ones.

        I’ve also not liked Monsanto for more than 10 years, They have got to go and I hope more people will work to push them out. If we can get rid of the main supplier, I think things will get a lot better, especially for the people who have no idea how dangerous the food they’re eating is. I am glad to see that many countries have banned Monsanto and GMO foods.

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      • Yes, I shop at WF and have been eating real food for more than a decade, and I live in a natural foods mecca. WF has the best fish counter in my city, so I have to give them credit for that. Ironically, our local natural foods chain store is right next to WF. I usually go there first, because they sell only organic produce, which is my one big beef with WF (no pun intended, but it works!). Other than that, they both sell the identical packaged natural/organic foods. Our farmers market has gotten so expensive, that I rarely shop there anymore. I won’t skimp on my pastured eggs and meats, and I try to buy those elsewhere.

        The only thing that is going to slow down GMOs in the US is mandatory labelling, IMHO. That and GMO farmers figuring out that GMOs are not as great as they thought they were when the weeds build up resistance to the herbicides and their soil is destroyed.

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      • I’ve buying organic for the last 7 years. I really miss Wild Oats. Too bad they sold out to WF. I usually buy most of my food from local farmers now. Used to go to Wild Oats couple times a week. Now I go to WF only a couple times a month.

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        • Haha, I used to go to Wild Oats and I loved it! One morning, my parents and I stayed at my brother’s and sister in law’s house. When my mom and I woke up in the morning, we couldn’t find any healthy food to eat, so we walked over to Wild Oats. Thankfully, they lived close to one. We had an awesome breakfast. :)

          There was a fun health food store in my town called Mountain Mama’s. Fun place, I don’t know if it’s still there. (Colorado Springs, CO).

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        • My sister used to shop at a place called Henry’s in California also. I think it may have sold out to Whole Foods also?

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      • This is the craziest statement! Seriously? You are indeed wrong on this. Sarah I’m starting to wonder if you’ve ever stepped foot in a Whole Foods or if you’re just parroting stuff you’ve read and watched on youtube. New convert to healthy eating? Uhm no. Neither are most of the Doctors who teach my husbands courses for his Doctor of Chiropractic, and they shop there too. Many of the people at my farmers pick-up for raw milk and eggs bring their Whole Foods insulated/reusable grocery bags to transport their milk. We had a dinner party with some of my husbands Chiropractic classmates, most of whom seemed quite well versed in WAPF style nutrition. We discovered most of us have similar habits for sourcing our food. Local farmers for our meat, milk, eggs, some belong to a veggie-coop, and nearly all of us use Whole Foods to fill in the gaps. We talked about the abundance of local artisan products we find there, and not one person complained of it being a “sham”. Silly!

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  14. Just like everything else you have to watch what you are purchasing. We have a local health food store (just one) and it is very expensive. I try to buy what I can there. Our farmers markets are very limited and most of the time they can’t tell you where their produce came from because they don’t know – they bought it off a truck, moved it to their truck and parked it at the market. We have fruit trees which will hopefully produce this year if we don’t have a record setting heat wave and drought and if I can ever keep the chickens out of the garden I will have that eventually.
    I shop at WF for a limited number of items just the same as I shop at WM for a limited number of items. We do have a few local farms that offer grassfed beef/pork and I get that as often as I can, local fresh raw milk and dairy is hard to come by. We do the best we can with what I can get.

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  15. Tracey Jorg Rollison via Facebook March 14, 2012 at 11:21 am

    At one point, Whole Foods wanted to move from their location to a new location a mile away. They were shocked when the area fought them. The reason? They wanted to tear down a wooded area that is a legacy bird-watching area, with old-growth forest!

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  16. Sherry Morris via Facebook March 14, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I didn’t know they were building another one in the Tampa area…..I won’t be shopping in it either……they are VERY upsetting to me. Talking one game and living another.

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  17. I’m in agreement with Ann, Michelle, and Anne-Marie, and will add another thought to all this. To say that anyone who shops at WM or WF doesn’t realize what they’re doing and is being suckered, duped, etc. is rather insulting. Those of us who shop at those stores do so for many varied reasons, one of which is that our dollars speak. What I buy from those stores is my voice, and I let it be heard. The health food store in my small town, carries some fresh produce, but the variety is limited and it’s often beyond redemption nutritionally speaking. The bread and butter of most health food stores is not their grocery offerings, but their supplements. I do buy produce from them to encourage them to buy more of what I need, but can’t depend on them for all I need.
    At chain stores, my dollars are my weapon. WM and WF are businesses and they are not evil, they’re neutral. They’re stocking what people buy, and unfortunately most people don’t care or know enough to care. If people stop buying GMOs (et al.) they’ll stop carrying them.
    Amen to the exhibitor at ExpoWest…“People do better when they know better.” What ever happened to, “educate, educate, educate”?
    Thankfulness for what we have available in each of our areas is where we start…remember when there was no organic produce at WM or anywhere else?

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    • When I ‘m at Walmart, I make a point to buy mostly organic produce and then I tell the cashier and any worker nearby that I thankful they are carrying organics (albeit, very small amount). I want them to improve. not get rid of what they are doing. I talk about it on FB, and anywhwere I can to get people around here to buy it from them. It’s the closest store around here at 30 miles from my house.

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  18. Some of us don’t have the luxury of small-town health food stores, or of big incomes. My family has–and LIKES–to shop at Whole Foods. It’s our only option. And as for Wal-mart, no, we don’t shop there, but we do frequent Sam’s Club for their resonable deals of bulk items we use frequently. When you have a one-income household, you can’t afford to turn your nose up at large corporations.

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  19. Monia Paolini Dolan via Facebook March 14, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I couldn’t agree more! The only way to find local organic food is to buy at a local trusted farm!!!

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  20. The WJLA video the Sarah posted was from 2008. Here is Whole foods response to the wjla story.
    http://blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/whole-foods-market-responds-to-wjla/

    I think all of us who read Sarah’s blog are concerned with preparing the healthiest food we can to nourish our families. Whole Foods gives me more “healthy” choices than my other local stores. As a consumer, I read the labels and choose the products that fit my budget. Do I purchase products from China? No. But at least Whole Foods does put the country of origin on the packaging so I know that and can make a different choice.

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  21. I’ve often thought Whole Foods is a place for the health conscious to buy convenience foods. Since I’m not into convenience food there’s not a whole lot I buy at Whole Foods, but there are some things that I will purchase there such as my ACV, my celtic sea salt, digestive enzymes just to name a few. I agree Whole Foods has caved in a lot of areas, but they do fill the need for many consumers who want organic foods and produce. Not everyone has the convenience of local health food stores. I certainly don’t and I only get to Whole Foods when I visit my children on the other side of the state every couple of months. I would be delighted if Whole Foods built a store in my area.

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  22. What a bummer about those veggies being from China- that basically means we have no idea if it’s organic at all.
    I do think that comparing Whole Foods to Walmart is a HUGE stretch, though. Into corporate profit- yes. Treating their employees the same as Walmart- nope. Most are offered health insurance, for example.
    The fact of the matter is that Whole Foods is the best place to buy grass-fed beef- we get the same price per pound as folks who buy from a local farm. With three kids under four, I need a little convenience in my life- so I’ll keep shopping at Whole Foods for now (sans the Chinese veggies).

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  23. I can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. I have tried everything to get the most decent foods that we are able to find. The stores here are stupid gross in what they sell and the healthfood store costs FAR out price the items sold in Whole Foods. I love shopping there but like you said there are some things that they support that I don’t agree with. But then again so do video stores and shopping malls and the like. I think its up to us to choose the best we can at what we can afford and do our best. And if that means swinging by whole foods then so be it. On a positive note they are trying harder then my local Walmart or Stracks THATS FOR SURE!!! I do support our local produce store 100% although its not 100% perfect.

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    • Yes, while WF has a meat and seafood department, they have a pro-soy vegan agenda stated by the uppermost levels of their corporate management.

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  24. Amanda Schneider via Facebook March 14, 2012 at 11:58 am

    this is just another prime example of learning to ask questions and becoming more involved in what is happening in our local areas.

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  25. Fully agree with you Sarah! And I’m happy you tell it straight out the way it is! Real, unaltered, healthy foods come from “the heart”, not from “the pocket”. I am a true believer in local sustainable, SMALL businesses. Once any business gets too big, their integrity is questionable. And we have a real example here. I lost my faith in Whole Foods when they stopped carrying the raw milk, since they’d have to pay too much money for insurance…Wasn’t worth it for them…I go now rarely there for a few items, but as soon as I can I’ll solely rely on local, small farms and businesses, hopefully by then I’ll move to a rural area as well and leave big stinky city behind…

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    • No business can be sustainable selling a product they aren’t able to sell at a low enough price people will buy it… and it’s unreasonable to expect a company to carry a product they lose money on! If insurance rates for raw milk are very high, then they have to raise the price, which means they sell less, which means they have to raise the price further. And even having to have the insurance puts people on alert and makes WF more liable to lawsuits (because, really, if some sue-happy person is going to drum up a lawsuit over raw milk, of course they will pick the national store over the local store! They’ll make more money!) That’s a problem with the government’s regulations on raw milk, not Whole Foods’ business practices!

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  26. For those who have no alternatives available, WF is a blessing…kind of. I was a new convert to organic when I then discovered I had cancer. I chose to have surgery (the tumor was huge and too much of a burden on my system), but to follow-up with the alternative approach. No drugs, no radiation. I wasn’t healthy enough to start a garden, and new to the area I was living in. WF is where I shopped until I could find better resources. Fortunately, I live in an area where better resources are available and expanding rapidly.

    I remember standing in the produce section of WF with tears streaming down my face. I had just tried to find the organic versions of the foods I’d discovered i’d need to eat. At this time, my diet was nearly all produce. A perusal of what was available was wonderfully varied, and ALL PRICED BEYOND MY ABILITY TO BUY IT. I was completely devastated! I was so upset (and still pretty ill), that I think I scared one of the employees, who very kindly listened to my tearful explanation and tried to help. Bless her; she helped me calm down enough to be able to drive home, that day.

    The prices at WF drove me to put more effort into finding an affordable source of HEALTHy foods that I could afford to buy. I was very ill, so it wasn’t easy; but, I managed to find a local market. I now buy nearly everything we eat from a local co-op in the off season and local farmer’s market during the spring and summer. Since I started doing this, the demand for local and CLEAN (even if not certifed organic) has grown exponentially, here. Now what was 4-5 producers and lots of artisans at the local fm is now as many as a dozen grower/producers, and many of them conscientously avoid health-destroying chemicals and gmo’s.

    BTW, not all farmers’ market grower/producers are any more honest or conscientious than the folks behind the stores. People are people, no matter where you find them. You GOTTA ASK POINTED, DETAILED QUESTIONS. Today, my health is significantly better than it was the day I stood in the midst of all that over-priced abundance at WF. And my financial status has improved a little. So I am able to enjoy all the growth in our farmers’ markets and make the random, imported organic foods from WF too.

    I still don’t have a garden. Every spring I hope to be able to start one, but I haven’t improved quite enough to do that, yet. Not everyone can invest themselves in all the DIY involved in growing/preserving, nor can everyone spend the incredble amount of time involved in researching what is healthy and what isn’t. It’s actually easier now than it was just 5 years ago, but it’s still daunting. So, the information about how WF or any other resource makes their decisions on what we find there, and what’s healthy and what isn’t (and why) is always good to find.

    Information is helpful, allowing us all to make the decisions we each have the right to make according to our own priorities. On the other hand, condemnation is not helpful at all. I tends to inspire a defensive reaction, which short-circuits less emotional and more logical thinking. And while I do sometimes give in to the urge to condemn (especially in regards to Monsanto and the FDA and Big Pharma), no matter how justified I feel I am in doing so, it doesn’t change the less beneficial reactions from the uninformed.

    The key is to inform, rather than condemn. Those who are uneducated will be helped more if they are not feeling the need to defend their ‘default’ lifestyle. And freedom of choice is a precious thing, even if it means some folks choose to be self-destructive.

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  27. Wow, Sarah you opened a can of worms. Good for you! I will admit I do shop at WF in the Seattle Area on occasion but I now shop with my eyes wide open and ask lots of questions. I do feel deceived with the product labels but the organic business has become mainstream now (everyone is jumping on the band wagon) and along with that comes sneaky marketing and labeling. We should complain about this and boycott buying these products if at all possible. We all have to be informed consumers and thank you for putting out this information!
    PS – we should also be asking questions about organic regulations and mexico – have you ever noticed how much produce is coming out of mexico and labeled organic. This especially holds true for Trader Joes. I no longer shop there due to this and the fact they always have recalls of their produce/products (due to e.coli or salmonella contamination) every time I was going in there. Posted in a tiny little ad by the checkout of course.

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    • That’s interesting about Mexico. Almost ALL of the organic produce in the local Vitamin Cottage, or as they now want to be known as Natural Foods, is from Mexico. And this is in Grand Junction, CO where they can get organic and locally grown vegetables from all over Colorado and Utah organic farmers, but choose not to and imo, this makes them worse than Whole Foods.

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  28. I shop at WF weekly. It is the best choice for me at this time. I work full time and cannot belong to a CSA. I do shop a local market on the weekend and order many things online. For others such as sugar for DH, Applegate hot dogs, honey bacon, etc. I find WF the best choice. I do check all labels and do not buy things from China. I buy virtually all organic produce (with few exceptions) and try to stick with local items pretty much all the time. I already knew WF’s stance on GMOs and such but cannot find another good place to shop. All health food stores in my area are ridiculously expensive….

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  29. Stephanie Pruett Amuso via Facebook March 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    We shop at the S. Tampa Whole Foods and we are just picky about what we buy. It is the only place to get grassfed beef, pastured pork and organic free range chicken in one stop…..unless you order through a farm, in bulk usually. With 2 small kids it becomes inconvienent to stop at 2-3 different smaller stores and farmers markets. I personally am excited about their new N. Tampa location.

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  30. I (occasionally) shop at the flagship WF in downtown Austin where Iive. They have actually earned the name, “Whole Paycheck” because of their prices. Still, this store does carry local meats, dairy, and eggs. So, in a pinch I can pickup items from the WAPF shopping guide recommendation of ‘best’ or (gasp) ‘good’ – not ideal, but better than the local HEB (think Publix) which I rarely enter (think pencils or paper napkins). It really all comes down to knowing the right questions to ask. At my WF I talked to the folks in the bakery about some ‘sprouted, whole grain sourdough bread’ for my non-celiac hubby. The baker explained the entire process from start to finish and I think it would fall into the WAPF ‘best’ category. If you are an educated buyer, then you can find a few things that can get you through the week until the next farmer’s market.

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  31. I was wowed by Whole Foods when I first moved back to Washington from Alaska but they are 80 miles to the south of me in the Seattle area. I quickly became a regular shopper at our Community Food Co-Op and now we have an local, independent natural foods grocery as well. In the summer I buy all my produce from the local farmers market (Wed & Sat) and buy all my meat, poultry and fish from the local producers/farmers. We are really lucky here in Bellingham to have access to such a terrific market. I don’t miss Whole Foods at all but I have lived in places in Texas and Virginia where it would have been a welcome sight.

    When Whole Foods dropped raw milk and supported Organic Valley in disallowing their farmers to sell raw milk I called and objected. After this last cave-in to GMOs I sent them a letter and returned the WFM green bags I had with it.

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  32. (In the interest of full disclosure, my husband works at Whole Foods. Also, Wal-mart is pretty much at the highest level of corporate evil in my mind based on a lot of research I did in college regarding environmentalism and consumerism)

    Yes, they do have to turn a profit, as they are a corporation with employees and stakeholders. But I think comparing them to a Wal-mart is a pretty inexact comparison. They have higher prices than other stores because they carry a different quality of product (instead of stocking their shelves with the cheapest garbage available) – they will turn down vendors / suppliers who do not align with their core values (instead of driving their vendors out of business by stripping down their prices). There are some areas with which the quality and price are actually better at my local WF store than neighboring grocery stores with limited, sad looking organic options (especially for fresh food) and little to no local options.

    The store that my husband works for is constantly searching for ways on the store level on up to green up the place (less waste, more sustainable options, etc). They are transparent with where everything comes from, how it’s made, types of packaging, pretty much everything but the profit margin of each individual item.

    They are also a pretty darn good company to work for – they have great health insurance (as well as other benefits) for their employees and promote wellness initiatives for them. Wal-mart keeps their employees working few enough hours and making little enough money to where a frighteningly large percentage of their employees are living below the poverty line and collecting welfare benefits in some form – Medicaid, food stamps, etc – are are ineligible for health insurance.

    Furthermore, they are introducing principles of health to a broader audience than some of the local health stores are capable of doing – this will help increase demand and soon after supply of non-GMO, organic, whole, healthy foods. On the local level, I’ve seen the variety and quality of organics skyrocket at my other local stores since Whole Foods opened its doors.

    Is it a perfect system? No. Are they a perfect company? Absolutely not. But I think they definitely hold themselves to a higher level of corporate responsibility than the Wal-marts of the world and do help to educate their audience which in turn increases demand for quality, responsibly grown/farmed food. And in agreement with NancyO, we can vote with our dollars on what they carry by how we spend.

    Sarah – I do thoroughly enjoy your blog and feel like I am constantly learning from it!

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    • I guess that would say that truly organic, raw, unprocessed local is not part of Whole Foods values. BPA free? What are their core values?

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  33. Good post Sarah, I will not shop at Trader Joes or Whole Foods, or any corporate food chain for the exact reasons you state.
    Buy and support your local farmers and co ops!
    I have been eating real and organic food for many years now.

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      • Start your own garden. Live in an apt or no space for garden. Get together with others and start a community garden.

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      • We live in ranching area and there are no gardens or local farmers markets . So it’s really hard to find good food. Live in Wyoming…..Western Wyoming…..at least 1 1/2 hours from anywhere to get any kind of healthy food . So we do the best we can from what we have to choose from . And I also thank Sarah because I have learned so much from her blog…..and just keep on learning. I wish there were a Whole Foods within 100 miles LOL

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  34. The only thing I buy at whole foods is the chicken and meat because it does not have hormones. This is better than buying meat at the local grocery store. Right?

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  35. Compared to the national grocery chains, WF has a lot to like. I appreciate them for their grassfed meat, wide choice of organic food, and raw cheese. I missed the rolling over part in their statement.

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  36. Angela Lynn Wolfe via Facebook March 14, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    It is sad to me that even supposed safe places to buy food are being run with smoke and mirrors.

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  37. Barbara Deneke via Facebook March 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    They have run virtually all of the health food stores out of business here. :( And – their idea of “local” is generally somewhere within 750 miles of here despite the abundance of great organic growers near here.

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    • In our area, we have “health” food stores that I hesitate to use that description. They are mostly vitamin stores with a few extras. I would give a lot of have a Whole Foods here. However, we have two Walmarts that have run so many of all types of stores out of business with their cheap Chinese crap.

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  38. I visit Whole Foods maybe twice a year as they have some good and bad things there. Yes, there is alot of sugar-laden junkfood, GMOs, non-organic, and either mystery ingredients used. However, you can always look at labels. Mostly I enjoy going to the bulk bins for nuts, seeds, and flour. WF has very high prices that are too much for me, but the same can be said for local healthfood shops and farmer markets around me, too. Usually I just go to whats close and get everything else at Krogers (they actually have a natural section there).

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  39. Do you have an actual link for the pdf? I can’t find it on their site.

    You will be lucky if you still have those two small health-food stores a year out from when Whole Foods opens. The store will pull enough business that it will be hard for the smaller stores to carry on.

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      • No justification?! I am a homeschooling mama trying to do the best I can with our financial resources – I’m not a “foodie” but I enjoy various traditional foods blogs and trying to better our eating. I have other options locally besides Whole Foods, but by the time I drive all over the freaking DFW metroplex on 5 different days of the week fetching raw milk, picking up eggs, meeting the meat guy, picking up the csa veggies, etc….it is too much.

        Articles like this are really discouraging. While I understand the concern you have about how Whole Foods operates, to make these blanket statements is extreme. I know one thing, if a single, working, Walmart-shopping mama found your site because she was thinking about trying to buy more organic items, she would surely leave feeling like this “real food” thing is way too complicated and not possible.

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  40. Cheryl White Arvidson via Facebook March 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Our gov’t is allowing this. No doubt pols/ officials are getting paid by WF to ignore the fraud.

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  41. Julia Overstreet Sathler via Facebook March 14, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    We are blessed to have many farms selling local plus stores like New Seasons, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. We use them all, primarily locally owned New Seasons which is like a smaller and more neighborhoody WF. I am currently signing up with a local farm to grow all our staples for the coming year…we indicate what we want and how much, and they grow/raise it for us. (so lucky to be in Portland). I am thankful for the many organic options available to us. Trader Joe’s brand foods are not organic unless specified, but all TJ label foods are non GMO. That’s a step in the right direction.

    So what do I do? Support them all as needed, write them all once in a while asking for GMO labeling and telling them I against GMO, write the president and my elected officials every now and again telling them the same…and continue my skill building towards more whole, natural foods and continuing to find and meet my local food producers.

    I would vote with my dollars. Buy the truly clean and sustainably sourced items no matter who is offering it, and keep bugging corporate with what we like/don’t like.

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  42. I don’t believe in letting the ideal be the enemy of the good. I don’t shop at Whole Foods, but mostly because they are so far away. Instead I shop at my local HEB (a chain grocery store like Safeway or Kroger), which is arguably far worse than Whole Foods on the real-food-scale.

    Sure, I buy my meats, dairy, and veggies from local farmers, but that’s not all we eat! My local HEB carries all kinds of things I buy: bulk organic grains, Pomi BPA-free diced tomatoes,
    a nitrate-free braunsweiger, sprouted grain English muffins, organic lime-treated corn tortillas, bulk organic teas and herbs, a couple Bob’s Red Mill products, coconut water, kombucha, Kerrygold butter and cheeses, Applegate Farms lunch meats, Wild Planet BPA-free canned tuna, wild caught seafood, whitefish roe, natural cleaning products, and more.

    Should I stop shopping there just because their organic produce aisle is more of a small corner? Should I stop shopping there because 75% of what they sell isn’t even almost real food?

    Nah. I believe in letting my dollars talk, and right now those dollars support their good buying options so they’ll keep these good things stocked.

    In the same way, a discerning shopper ought to be able to navigate Whole Foods and find good things. If they can do it, why shouldn’t they? Wouldn’t you rather they support a local Whole Foods (and hence all the local employment that represents) than be forced to buy these things online due to lack of local supply?

    Reply
  43. Summer Ahrens via Facebook March 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    I like to browse through there but usually end up buying very little; I end up ordering shelf items online for cheaper.

    Reply
  44. I have been learning about natural health and nutrition since 2003, so almost 10 years now. I used to have access to both an excellent supermarket, and a huge Whole Foods, several minutes away. I got totslly hooked on WF, even though their rices were too high, and their personal philospohies didn’t always jibe with my own conservative Christian views. Still I appreciated their selection and quality of the things I did routinely buy.

    Now the nearest WF is an hour away from where I live. I only get there every few weeks or even every 3 months or so. I only buy the things I really feel I need that I can’t get locally–which has become a VERY small list, thanks to the raw goat milk i buy from a local farmer, pastured eggs from the same source, organic produce co-op, and green household products co-op I belong to! But all that has just come about in the last few months. And I am VERY lucky I can now find these things in my area. Not everyone is as fortunate.

    We all do the best we can. I am still working on a cow share, pig share, bulk grains purchase (which I will have soon), and sources of chicken, lamb, raw butter, raw cream, whey, and lard, Then I think I’ll be set. But it’s a long journey. And not everyone is where I am/we are in that journey. And “perfect” is NEVER the goal.

    Just some thoughts I wanted to share.

    Reply
  45. Sarah, I agree with you that Whole Foods should take a firmer stand against GMO foods. And I also think it’s sad when Whole Foods causes small local health-food stores to close. But I disagree with you (which rarely happens) on whether Whole Foods is to be avoided entirely. I think that it serves a useful purpose. That purpose is being a convenient alternative to conventional supermarkets for those who are not able or willing to make the larger and more inconvenient leap to all local/farmer based/traditional/sustainable food sourcing. Although Whole Foods has flaws, I think it is way better than most supermarkets and is a useful step in the right direction for most people who would otherwise shop at Walmart or Giant. On my blog The National Fork, I recently did a post rating Whole Foods, on which I explained my position in more detail. Here’s a link to my post. http://nationalfork.com/?p=1376.

    I shop at my Whole Foods as little as possible and get as much of my food from my farmer. But I’m further along than most people. It took me a while to get here, and there was a time not long ago when I relied on Whole Foods for all of my food.

    Thanks for all your great work on this site. Patrick Crawford

    Reply
  46. Suzanne Bedard Brown via Facebook March 14, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I wish we had some local organic food stores, we have plenty of farms in the summer and I belong to a CSA, but during the winter it’s very slim pickings. I have to confess that I do go to my “local” WF, which is still a 20 min. drive to buy organic produce during the winter, especially since my regular groc. store doesn’t carry any organics. :(

    Reply
  47. Wow! Just makes me sick. I will be sticking to my local healthfood stores and local CSA and local farmers. People think it takes a lot of work to eat healthy well, it does take a lot of research and the commitment to doing what you think it right! I do have to admit that i have a couple of whole foods reusable bags. I bought them and only them at their store when I was there with a friend.

    Reply
  48. Although I am a believer is supporting local as much as possible, I am so thankful to have places like Trader Joe’s and Earthfare near me. We are in placer right now in which we need food assistance and no farmers around me accept ebt. I am thankful to still be able to provide my family higher quality food and I work very hard to make what we get go the farthest it can while still being healthy.

    Reply
  49. We live in north central Iowa and there are no health food stores for about +100 miles from where we live (at least that I have found). Nor is there a Whole Foods. We have a couple of gardens in our yard during the summer/fall and plant as much as we can to last us the rest of the year. What we can’t grow ourselves, we buy at the grocery store or farmer’s market. One of the grocery stores near has a decent selection of organic/natural foods in both it’s own isle and in the produce section (but meat/cheese are non-existent when it comes to organic). The down side here, is that the largest farmer’s market in a 25 mile radius has about 10 stalls and only 1 claims to be organic. We’ve boycotted Walmart for about 5 years now and try our best to avoid all of the other box-marts as there really isn’t much difference between the Chinese crap sold at any one of those stores–same stuff, different color, different price. We refuse to buy food from China, period. We make a couple of trips in the summer to my parents in Minneapolis to go to a big farmer’s market there–always a fun family event. But the sad thing here in Iowa, is that everyone is so pro-GMO-corn (and soy) it’s ridiculous. I gave up corn for Lent and was nearly shunned by everyone around me…they look at me like I’m some sort of crazed lunatic, freak. Glad I’m not from here originally.

    Reply
  50. I agree with you…at this point if I boycott all of the thigs that I’ve been reading about I can basically buy nothing and shop nowhere. I’d love some suggestions…Whole Foods & Trader Joes ( I’m sure there will be a call to boycott them any minute now) are the only places in the winter time where I can get organic fruits and veggies.There are no longer any “local” healthfood stores anywhere near me. So while I’m waiting for the CSA to start and the local farmers markets (which are only here once a week) to begin and my own organic garden to start producing…

    Reply
  51. We call Whole Foods, “Whole Paycheck” in my neck of the woods because it’s ridiculously overpriced and doesn’t even carry a huge selection of everything you need in an organic version. In my city we are fortunate to have a very well-established food co-op grocery store that sells mostly organic, locally grown food and other big name brand organic dry good items.

    But not everyone is lucky enough to have a co-op in there area – it’s a delimma!

    Reply
  52. Sarah, I don’t really think the comparison between WFs and Walmart is fair. While I think WFs has issues and the prices are high, they do (at least my WFs) have some local produce–not from China. But, just like any store, you have to read labels and see where items are produced, etc.

    Our local health food store has basically the same packaged items as WFs which are going to contain GMOs. They don’t have different products. Our local health food store has some local organic produce but also has a lot of organic produce from Mexico which I don’t usually buy because I don’t trust it.

    I know there are a lot of co-ops that are better, but we don’t have that here, and while I prefer to shop at our local farmer’s market, I still shop at WFs. I’ve done a lot of research on Wal Mart. I have not done as much on WFs, but I really don’t see that they are the same. Of course, I can be convinced, but I would need to see a break down of how they are the same, not just hasty generalizations.

    Also, is there a way we can see when new posts are posted besides coming back to the thread? I like how for other blogs, the new posts get sent to your email.

    Lori

    Reply
  53. Please tell me what “crunchy” means. I have heard it several times and have ask a few others to explain and they never have.

    I don’t have a health food store like yours around here. I will go to the farmers’ market, but how would I know if anything was gmo (like the corn)? I wouldn’t mind a Trader Joe’s, I would take my WAPF shopping guide with me.

    Reply
  54. Good grief, this post got people’s hackles up!

    I would just like to add to the scintillating conversation that whether or not you shop at WF for whatever reason, they are a huge corporation with the power to influence food policy and push for meaningful reform and restrictions concerning GMOs.

    They have this power, but they refuse to use it. They could make great strides in revealing the truth about GMOs, educating their consumer base, holding their suppliers accountable and at a bare minimum advocating for labeling laws.

    So many of their products contain GMOs without labeling, as do other stores — but the difference is that many shoppers have the mistaken impression that WF has higher standards along these lines and have weeded out such products. Everyone should demand that they step up to the plate and take the lead in this effort, rather than giving it lip service and backing down to the pressures of Monsanto, DOW, Cargill and the like.

    This is a matter of citizen and corporate responsibility. Unless we all take responsibility and speak up, there will be a point at which GMO contamination will wreak such widespread harm to the planet and to us that it will be irreversible.

    Reply
  55. Yep, we’re having the same issue here in Boise, ID where I live. And I won’t be shopping there. Here’s the post I wrote about this matter, which was featured on the Organic Consumer’s Association web site:

    http://agriculturesociety.com/healthy-living/8-reasons-i-wont-shop-at-whole-foods-when-it-opens-in-boise-idaho/

    I actually got some comments on my FB page defending Whole Foods for “doing the best they can”. Well, that is never good enough for me. I’ll continue to support my local farmers and health food stores, thank you very much.

    Reply
  56. Don’t know if Earth Fair is along the ranks of Whole Foods, but I go to Earth fair for primarily my non-homogenized milk, otherwise I pay more than double the price to have it specially ordered to my local health food store. We are a single income family with a full house of children, so I choose to take the cheaper option. Our meat and dairy comes from small farms, and other foods primarily from food co-op. And I just don’t feel comfortable buying raw milk in “secret”.
    I have been into health foods for more than a decade, and I don’t really have much use for the chain health food stores in general anymore.

    Reply
    • Mine too. I have been LOVING seeing my local farmers grass fed beef and heritage pastured pork sold @ my WF. I’m thrilled to see people @ the butcher counter ordering it. Of course I buy it for less $ directly from my farmer 95% of the time but I think it’s FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC it now takes up about 1/3 of the butcher case at my Whole Foods. LOVE IT. Why boycott when you can just vote in-store with your dollar?

      Reply
  57. I was getting a milk delivery once a week from a local farm here in TX. (Low-temp pasturized, non-homogenized, grass-fed Jersey. Unfortunately the closest source of raw milk is over 1 1/2 hours away) I was paying $7 a gallon for the milk and I had to drive about 1 hour round trip to get it every week, but I did it faithfully. A few weeks ago I went into my local WF which is about 10 min from my house and lo and behold, there was my dairy’s milk!! I was so excited! Now it’s more convenient to pick up and we don’t have the hassle of being out of town and missing the delivery day until the next week, etc. Oh, and it’s a dollar cheaper per gallon!
    Yes, WF has problems. (I mean, Veganaisse! Gross!) Tons of soy products, organic milk, etc. But they also have grass-fed meat from local farmers and many other healthy items. I do buy from farmer’s markets in the summer, however, I think some of these can be just as deceiving since not all of them have a commitment to no pesticides, herbicides and so on.

    Sarah, I have learned a wealth of information from you and your blog. I try to take that information with me when i shop, WHEREVER I shop, to get the best quality food I can by reading labels, asking questions, and not just blindly buying something because it’s in a ‘healthfood’ store. But I’m also grateful to WF to an extent because they have given my local farm the opportunity to sell more of their product, which makes them more profitable, which gives them the resources to continue farming. And I feel like that’s a good thing.

    Reply
  58. I completely agree with you, Sarah, and I would stand on principle if I could. Unfortunately, my family’s income has been halved since I lost my job and we are now on food stamps. WF is one of the few options for buying healthy food in my area. The locally owned health food stores and farmer’s markets here don’t accept food stamps but WF does, so I shop at Meijer and WF.

    Reply
  59. My boyfriend works at Whole Foods and he’s so unimpressed, more like completely frustrated. More often than not, people come in there because they heard Dr. Oz talk about a particular product and they come running in there and they don’t have a clue. Also, they sell some of the worst “health” foods available and promote TVP, edamame, tofu, “organic” canola oil, soy, almond, and rice “milk” (yuck, yuck, and YUCK!)…you get the point! I only shopped there because I was able to get some items found on the WAPF shopping guide (I need to update to the 2012 guide). Besides, he doesn’t make enough money to shop there and I’m better going online or finding a farmer’s market.

    Reply
  60. We have a couple of gardens in our yard which pretty much provide all the veggies and hopefully this year, most of the fruit we eat during the year. My husband hunts so we have most of our meat local and organic, we just need to find somewhere to buy local raw milk/cream/cheese and we’re set

    Reply
  61. Pingback: Honest Foods Baked Whole Food

  62. I don’t view the issue as black and white. My WF buys from local organic farmers as well as big food corporations. I pick and chose what I shop at WF. I think there are worse “natural foods” stores to buy from, like Sprouts and Sunflower markets, than WF.

    I work for an agency that leases land for agriculture to many “mom and pop” conventional and organic farmers. The organic farmers will rotate their crops to conventional when their weeds start getting out of hand and they need to use herbicide. I have a hard time deamonizing anyone because they use herbicides or grow GMOs when I have personally met conventional farmers. I may not choose to buy my foods that are grown non-organically, but I’m not going to boycott a store because they do sell GMOs or conventionally grown foods.

    I also struggle with which is worse: driving half an hour or hour to buy my pastured meats and eggs and organic veggies from a farm or buying conventional foods at my local grocery store that I can walk to. Sometimes, I decide to buy conventional because I can’t stand to think how much pollution I’m going to cause doing all that driving.

    Reply
  63. Valerie A. Hoffman via Facebook March 14, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Sarah, thanks for bringing this to our attention. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from reading your website! I thought I was pretty diligent and scrutinizing of the advertising and media industry, but you’ve opened my eyes about so much of what’s in our food. Thank you for what yo do! It truly makes a difference.

    Reply
  64. I get my produce, meat, milk and eggs from a local farm and don’t go to Whole Foods very often. I did not know about the 365 store brand organic veggies being from China. That’s disgusting. I don’t buy frozen veggies typically so I never would have known. WF is like any other business. As a consumer, I like to have information so that I can make informed choices.

    Reply
  65. I pick up grass fed beef from Whole Foods from time to time, b/c I can’t find it fresh anywhere else. I believe the quality of protein and enzyme content are diminished in frozen meat compared with fresh meat. I need to find a local farmer that sells fresh meat.
    Danny\’s last post: Exercise = Neurological Development

    Reply
  66. With growth comes some compromise. We can stay a fringe movement or we can grow into the mainstream.

    Oftentimes I see people becoming so judgmental about the “right” way to do things that they can’t see the forest for the trees.

    Sally Fallon Morell always says, “Don’t make food your religion.” This is not a holy war. We are not enemies with companies like Whole Foods. They are the good guys who are trying to help.

    Are they perfect? No, of course not. But neither am I, nor is anyone.

    Reply
    • This is the problem with youtube, blogs, etc. They can be SUCH a vehicle to spread knowledge (and often are), but it only takes the click of a mouse to spread misinformation and then it goes viral and nobody checks their facts. Oh but it came from a “news station” so it must be true! Pfffft.

      Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist March 21, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      That news report while a couple of years old, shows a pattern that Whole Foods tricks the public which is why I posted it. A history and pattern of deceit is very important to establish. Here’s the point of posting that video: If Whole Foods can get away with it, they will do it.

      It very clearly says while watching the video that Whole Foods had changed The California Blend product so any confusion about the timeframe of the newsreport is simply from people not watching it through. You can be sure there are other products in Whole Foods right now that are from China that just haven’t been reported on yet. Wal-Foods (oops, is that Wal-Mart or Whole Foods we’re talking about here? Mmmmm. They seem the same don’t they?) is a very deceitful corporation.

      Reply
      • Bottom line is, you posted a video that was inaccurate. A number of readers have posted a rebuttal from Whole Foods which clarifies the facts. You refuse to remove the video because you cannot stand to be wrong….ever. It calls into question your supposed commitment to the “truth”. I will certainly not be persuaded by a video whose facts are so easily refuted. If your reasoning skills are so warped that you cannot distinguish between the choices at Walmart and Whole Foods there’s something really wrong. There’s certainly nothing wrong with making a commitment to your local health food store as supporting small business is very honorable – but there is little doubt that your small healthfood store is filled with the very same products Whole Foods is, and to claim you make no excuses for this but still shop there is intellectually dishonest.

        Reply
        • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

          Not at all. I posted a video that was a completely accurate newstory and the footnotes throughout the video clarified the timeframe. People need to know what happened a few years ago to understand that this is a pattern with Wal-Foods, er I mean Whole Foods.

          My small healthfood stores sell raw dairy from local farms and they NEVER sell conventional produce .. only organic and biodynamic. Whole Foods is a sell out on the raw dairy issue and they push a vegan, GMO agenda while pretending to save the world. They also sell so much conventional pesticide laden produce that you often can’t tell what’s organic and what’s not. They are just a juiced up supermarket. Do you even know if the organic produce is really organic when it is sold near the conventional? Do you trust that the person loading the shelves didn’t make a mistake and you are actually buying conventional produce when you oops thought you were buying organic?
          Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: Cardiologist: Lowfat Diet “Scientifically and Morally Indefensible”

          Reply
          • Errrr…Wal-Foods? I’m afraid that’s not nearly as clever as you seem to think.

            Once again you are attempting to educate the public about something you obviously don’t know enough about.
            I’ve lived in four different states and have never remotely found it difficult to distinguish between the certified organic produce and the “conventional” produce. I have always had a very wide variety of organics to choose from (when I’m unable to source from my farmer or farmers market). The produce is not only listed by signage, but the individual organic items are marked by a sticker which begins with the number “9″. Why is that so hard? Not only that, but we have local farmers supplying unsprayed crop that must be labeled “conventional” when it is anything but – all because they don’t have certification. This is the same produce sold at our farmers market. OH FOR SHAME!!! Furthermore, there is fair-trade distinction as well, even when not organic. And why should I care that Whole Foods has a vegan agenda? They supply wonderful local grass-fed meats to those of us who enjoy them. We have a rather large selection of pastured meats form local farms which is well segregated from their other meats.

            You might own up to your failures at home, but from what I’ve seen, you’re slow to do so here.

          • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

            In your ever so humble opinion, of course! LOL Just because you don’t agree with me doesn’t mean I’m wrong. It just means you don’t agree with me.

            By the way, you have no idea that what you bought at Wal-Foods was even organic. You have absolutely zero idea. Just like the frozen “organic” veggies from China in 2008. Just because it says its organic doesn’t make it so.
            Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: Cardiologist: Lowfat Diet “Scientifically and Morally Indefensible”

  67. Whole Foods is a huge company. Most huge companies have big issues with prices, mission, greed, and other things. Duh, WFs is gonna act like a big corporation. But saying WFs is on par with Walmart is wrong. They aren’t in the same boat. Like WFs or not, we real foodies could not survive without occasional (or regular) trips to WFs. I have found that I save WFs for a “treat” or for those ingredients I can’t get anywhere else. To shop there for your whole grocery list would not be wise because of the prices.
    Meagan\’s last post: Grain-free Almond Banana Waffles

    Reply
  68. Pingback: Whole Foods: The Walmart of Healthfood | CookingPlanet

  69. Sorry, but I think calling Whole Foods on par with Walmart is a long reach. With that said, I think everyone has to be a savvy and informed shopper even in Whole Foods. I probably step foot in a regular grocery store (Ie Publix/Kroger) twice a year. Two-thirds of my family’s food comes directly from two local farms, the other third I purchase at Whole Foods. I buy only organic products grown in the US, and I shop their sales and monthly coupons. I am VERY grateful to have a Whole Foods near my home. When I (rarely) run out of my farm meat, my butcher @ Whole Foods provides me with LOCAL, GRASS FED beef, pastured pork, and they have a brand of fully pastured eggs. The fish monger at my Whole Foods is fantastic. SO much wild caught fish. Do they sell some junk I wish they wouldn’t? You betcha – because there’s apparently a market for it. I don’t find it hard to find what I need. Every produce sign labels the country of origin, and I specifically look local produce. They have plenty! I vote with my dollar.

    I recently had to run to Kroger late night to the pharmacy and forgot how awful it is in a regular grocer. WAY WAY WAY more total garbage to choose from. I only have to sift through a third as much crap at Whole Foods to find a quality product. They have a locally made brand of unhomogenized yogurt from exclusively grass fed cows. You think I’ll find that at my local walmart? Yeah I don’t think so.

    I am vocal to Whole Foods about their position on GMO’s, “China Organics”, etc. I’m not happy about those things, and will continue to vote with my purchases and spread the word so friends/family are informed, but on par with Walmart? Nahhhhh.

    Reply
  70. I hope everyone reads all the comments on your blog, so they can see Whole Foods provides many of us with local, organic products we’re very happy with. Not everyone thinks it’s a sham, and there’s much more to the story than your article suggests.

    Reply
  71. Sarah, Regarding your question about how long your readers have been eating and living healthy, I would like to share. My journey to health began back in the l970′s with Adelle Davis. Today I am a responsible shopper at my Whole Foods Store here in New England, along with our local winter farm markets and the outstanding summer farm markets. I deeply appreciate the good things that Whole Foods offers. I am a healthy, happily married 72 year-old grandmother of l0 wonderful grandkids. I have never gone through my life being as alarmed as you are by the dangers, hazards, hatreds and faults of our bounty. I would advise you to enjoy yourself more, keep in touch with love and beauty, and focus less on the negative and fear. And, show a little more charity to all, my dear. You are more than merely a source of information and policing , you are also a living energy that you want to use wisely and well.

    Reply
    • Ms. Thomas–Thank you for reminding us all not to live in fear and to enjoy and appreciate what we are fortunate to have. Wishing you health and happiness always.

      Reply
    • Such wisdom, Linda! I know you intended it for Sarah, but I think this important for all of us! Thank you so much.

      Reply
      • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        I find it amusing that people who don’t even know me so readily like to suggest how I can best live and enjoy my life based on my opinions expressed in a blog post. A bit presumptuous at best.

        Linda, I think it would be best for you to reserve your wise words for people you actually know personally and not someone you think you know based on a bunch of words on a computer screen.
        Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: Video: Boost The Immune System With Bone Marrow

        Reply
        • I think I’m kind of over being amused by it. I was once amused by your blog because I just thought you were trying to stir up controversy to make your blog more popular. I’m kind of annoyingly tolerant that way, but I think I’m hitting a wall. Maybe it’s more amusing that you don’t know the rest of US or OUR life situations, but you still choose language brimming with hyperbole in order to get an emotional response. The self-righteous rhetoric about how you are ahead-of-the-curve, everyone else might be fooled but you’re not, etc, etc is so old and brimming with pride. You’ve been so “perfect” for so long, you really are out of touch with many of those you are supposedly trying to reach. When you start caring more about the end goal than you do the people who are walking the journey with you, something’s not right. There is always a way to express passion, sincerity, and hope for change without bulldozing half the people on the way. Yes, we know – you’re going to stay “true to yourself no matter what”.

          Reply
  72. Is it just me, or did most of the WF-loyal commenters miss the point?

    This article had no mention of boycotting, just a reminder to think before you shop.

    Support local farms and co-ops first. Use Whole Foods as a last resort.

    Sarah, you are absolutely right. Whole Foods has sold out to Monsanto and I won’t shop there either.

    Reply
    • Well I know I didn’t miss the point! You don’t have to use the word “boycott” to imply (strongly) that no one should spend their money @ WF. I feel like you didn’t read the same article and comments I did. Weird.

      Reply
      • Maybe you missed the end, where Sarah made her summarizing point. Here is what I read:

        “Do you want your neighborhood healthfood stores and farmer’s markets to suffer revenue losses from business ruthlessly stripped away by a Whole Foods coming to town? If not, you can choose to stay away like me and treat Whole Foods like just another supermarket or Walmart: a place of last resort where budget dollars are rarely if ever spent.”

        See the word CHOOSE in there and also LAST RESORT???
        You can imply anything you’d like, but the truth is she never said boycott. If she wanted to say it and encourage her readers to do so, she would have been as bold as she always is.

        Reply
        • I think you need to move beyond the article and read Sarah’s comments where she calls WF a “sham”, and more. The article was not her last word on the subject.

          Reply
  73. Rachel Budman-Burke via Facebook March 15, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    What I don’t understand is the focus on local healthfood stores. In every place I’ve ever lived, these so-called “health” food stores mostly carry vitamins and a little bit of food and they are super expensive. I don’t get why anybody supports them.

    Reply
  74. Hi Sarah, thanks for the blog; I had heard this info from different sources and wanted to share it with friends, so it is nice to see it all condensed here in one short blog! I tried to find the link to see where all of Whole Foods “Organic” foods come from, but when I went to http://www.wjla.com, I couldn’t find any link for the “ITeam” or anything about Whole Foods. Have you tried to find that link mentioned in the video? I would love to see it, and where all of Whole Food’s “Organic Food” really comes from.

    Thanks, Joyce

    Reply
  75. Sarah,

    In many ways, I’m thankful for finding your site. There is a richness of information here that I was able to learn so much from. The post you did about vaccinations on preemies may have saved my preemie son’s health since it was posted days before he was due for his 2 month shots (which we skipped).

    But I wish you would take to heart the comments so many have made here about your tone. You seem so harsh, judgmental and dismissive throughout your posts, and I have to say that many times I’ve hovered over the unsubscribe button because of it. It is so easy to get riled up into a fury over what is happening to food/farming in this country, but I think your words could reach so many more people if you learned to speak with kindness and encouragement. There aren’t many of us in the real food world, and if we create dissension amongst ourselves, we’re doing no good in the end.

    Personally, I am grateful for Whole Foods. Sure, there are a lot of things I don’t like about it, but with a little baby in tow, I can hardly justify driving an hour (or more) to go to the other local, real food store just to buy the exact same brands/farmers’ foods when Whole Foods is 5 minutes away from home. I still get to buy local, pastured eggs, kerrygold butter, milk from grassfed jersey cows, local and organic produce, and local and pastured meat. Sure, it’s a trade-off, and hopefully one day I will have other options. I do have in-laws who bring us pastured eggs and beef from their ranch when we see each other, and occasionally I’m able to make it to a farmer’s market. At least it’s something, right?

    I’ll hold out on unsubscribing for now, but I hope you take to heart what people have to say and don’t dismiss it out of hand. A little kindness never hurt anyone.

    Reply
    • I feel like you do. I haven’t visited since Sarah called those of us who eschew grains “ridiculous”. I convinced myself Sarah was just having a bad day. I took some time away, and the first post I come back to uses much the same belittling tone. :( I have SUCH a hard time reconciling that with the woman on the videos who seems so kind and helpful. I feel like there is a WEALTH of information here, and I never expect to agree with everything I read, I just think the tone of self-righteousness is hard to get past. I’m sure Sarah thinks we should just get lost if we don’t like her point of view, I just wish it didn’t come to that. I love Kelly (KitchenKop) she shares her opinions without trying to make everyone with opposing views feel like a nincompoop.

      Reply
      • I totally agree with you, Jenny, Linda and others. I really hope Sarah reads these comments, and as Jenny says, takes them to heart. It would make learning from this blog a much more pleasant experience.

        Reply
    • Well said, Jenny.

      And Whole Foods, unlike Wal-Mart, DOES offer so much good real food…it sucks that they are into the processed “health” food too and GMOs, but it is great that there is a place that many people have access to that sells local produce, grass-fed animal products, etc. Honestly, my first time in Whole Foods, I felt as if I was in a wonderland of food! But I hate the corporatism that is running our country too. It is a tough thing–supporting businesses that are good in some ways, evil in others. It is tough. But what would it really take not to support it at all? I mean, don’t shop at Whole Foods, don’t drive a car which takes gas, don’t buy clothes from the store because they are made by underpaid workers in horrendous conditions half way around the world,etc. etc.

      Reply
    • Jenny,
      I agree with you 100%. I was thrown under the bus and accused of being from Big Dairy and a fearmonger in January because I had different opinions than Sarah. I think that she is self-righteous, arrogant, and needs to learn that not everyone is going to agree with her on everything. I no longer post comments on this blog because I don’t appreciate the tone that is used on here. I was blocked and had some of my posts deleted when I disagreed with Sarah. People have the right to their own opinions without being treated like an ignorant child. We are all adults, and we all have our own beliefs, but to ridicule people for having different opinions is a turn-off and it will cause people to stop supporting this blog. I agree with EricsGirl about Kelly’s blog. Kelly is always nice, respectful, and she allows people to have their own opinions without resorting to the name-calling. Everyone’s situation is different, but we do what we can for our own families and personal situations. There is no need for this negative, self-righteous, know-it-all tone on here.

      Reply
  76. While I do partly agree with you Sarah– I am wondering why, if you are so vehemently opposed to WF do you have a link/ad for the new “Whole Foods store Grand Openning in Glenn Mills” on your blog?!

    Reply
  77. Wow! This is some great dialogue! I really appreciate Sarah and all the bloggers who have so much to offer to those of us who desperately want to learn the best way to feed our families! The quote about not making food your religion is SO true! Just a quick comment to help in this amazing debate with our friends and family who don’t yet know how the food supply has been hijacked…today at work my boss turned to me and said that Dr. Oz did a show on aspartame and said that it is safe and has not been show to cause any brain/neuro problems. She waited for my reaction, as I have tried to get all of them OFF aspartame; I told her that I believe that anyone who has a big name show/sponsor on television these days could possibly have a conflict of interest in telling all the truth about products that are ADVERTISED on their show. They want to believe me, but they just can’t wrap their minds around the fact that we are being lied to on a daily basis by mainstream everything! Anyway, just so you know how it’s going for some of us who want food freedom and food TRUTH! God bless!

    Reply
  78. Say goodbye to the bees – bees feed on alfalfa pollen. What is the point of ‘science’ at all if research points to this and all proof ends up meaningless to the almighty ‘poison for profits’?

    Reply
  79. There MUST BE something wrong with Whole Foods or there would not be so much controversy here. We are always told to “trust our gut” and many people’s guts tell them Whole Foods stinks…

    Reply
    • Respectfully, I’m not sure there’s much logic in this, Erin. I’m not saying people shouldn’t trust their instincts, but my gut tells me Whole Foods has been a wonderful supplier of nutritious foods for my family. Does this mean I’m in the clear?

      Reply
  80. AnnMarie, the “Cheeseslave” commented on your post in Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s blog.
    I must say that I agree with what she says and think that your position on this matter is a bit too extreme.
    Thanks for all the helpful education you provide.

    Reply
  81. If it weren’t for Whole Foods then dairy’s like Saint Benoit wouldn’t exist. http://www.stbenoit.com

    From their website:
    “With a little help from people like Whole Foods and John Mattos (dairy partner) who believed in us, some ingenuity, many months of planning and forethought, our seeds have grown into a thriving and sustainable creamery. ”

    http://www.stbenoit.com/html/philosophy.html

    I remember an old saying about a baby and bathwater…

    Reply
  82. In the article Sarah asks, “Do you want your neighborhood healthfood stores and farmer’s markets to suffer revenue losses from business ruthlessly stripped away by a Whole Foods coming to town?” In the Twin Cities, MN we have more than one Whole Foods and in the time period after their arrival our local co-ops and farmer’s markets have grown by leaps and bounds and are THRIVING.

    Reply
    • Very interesting! My farmer does VERY well w/ his veggie co-op, eggs, dairy, and meat sales and we have quite a few Whole Foods locations near us.

      Reply
  83. Whole Foods has been on the cutting edge for years by introducing and partnering with local farmers as White Oak Pastures.com, the finest pastured meat, chicken, and similar products on earth! We are so blessed to have discovered White Oak Pastures. You are insulting the very farmers you profess to love and support when you attack Whole Foods. Whole Foods DOES support local farmers!

    Sarah, respectfully I think you are missing the big picture……and it’s called Monsanto. If enough people would stop buying GMO products, this would solve the problem.

    I challenge you to guide the GMO movement by taking it straight to the source, Monsanto, instead of distractions about whether a company makes a profit….(which unless you are the government, you have to make a profit to stay in business). Use your voice to bring us together about the very issue of GMO instead of dividing us over “who shops where”.

    Take this opportunity to elevate the GMO awareness to the source, Monsanto! Bring us TOGETHER in the fight against GMO foods, not divide us!

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist March 17, 2012 at 10:56 am

      As I said before, Whole Foods is a Monsanto enabler. There are genetically modified foods courtesy of Monsanto all over a Whole Foods store. Whole Foods as a company talks out of both sides of its mouth. They say one thing and do another to maximize corporate profits. It is next to impossible for many local producers to get their products into WHole Foods anymore. It was easier years ago, but not anymore. Whole Foods has strayed from its original vision and does not deserve my business. I refuse to shop there.

      Reply
      • I guess there are GMO foods in WF. I don’t buy them. I buy fresh foods and many of them are organic, locally grown within 100 miles of my store. You and I do have the freedom (at least so far the government hasn’t taken that from us) to “speak” with our $$$ and shop where we please and that is just fine. But look at the bigger picture……

        This issue is not about WF as much as it is our country allowing GMO here in the first place! Other countries have banned GMO. Have you not questioned why our government endorses GMO in our country? Why are you not outraged about allowing GMO foods in our country? GMO is not healthy for any of us.

        If you and I lived in a perfect world and WF didn’t allow any GMO in their stores…..food manufacturers would still be using GMO products that feed our toddlers/children in schools and in hospitals that care for the weak. The REAL outrage here is bigger than WF, it is that our country endorses GMO in the first place!

        Monsanto’s GMO seeds are a hardship on our organic farmers as their seeds cross-contaminate organic fields. GMO altered foods affect everyone young and old. The WF’s argument is small stuff…..we need to go after the big stuff, Monsanto, and stop GMO production in our country. We need a response from every elected government representative if they endorse GMO altered seed production. Then the rest of us need to be active writing and calling to persuade them that banned GMO altered seeds is in the best interest of our county.

        I would think all your readers would certainly support that effort. Let’s find a real solution to ban GMO foods in our country. United we can ALL make a difference…..a healthy difference.

        Reply
        • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
          Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist March 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm

          Yes, I would love to see Whole Foods use its considerable corporate might (they are a 9 BILLION dollar company!) to help us muscle out GM foods in this country. So far, they are showing little will to do so.

          Reply
          • More gets done in our country with grass roots organizations.

            I’ll try again. Pretend today there is no WF. Not one store any where on earth. But there are still GMO foods killing us. How does your rant against WF fix the GMO problem? It didn’t save one farmer, (in fact, some probably will not survive), kids still eat the nasty product in schools and elderly on a fixed budget are eating them. How is your world any better without WF?

            And yes, the WF stockholders and employees hope that it grows to be a $20 BILLION company. I will continue to support them because they DO support my local farmers and best provide the quality food I serve to my family ALONG WITH my local farmers. Why does it have to be all or no WF? That’s silly.

            Here’s an option: You start your own grocery store chain, in all the cities across the US and simply don’t allow any GMO products in it. We know you won’t allow that tacky corporate profit (from taking risks and being successful in the business world) so you can proudly proclaim you are a ‘profit-LESS’ business (which might make it hard to get a business loan to open up all those stores across the US), but that is your call.

          • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
            Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist March 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm

            More people would be buying from local farms and businesses without Whole Foods. Many brands that contain GM ingredients would not be in business without Whole Foods. If the Mothership took off from downtown Austin never to return, the world would indeed adjust to a more locally oriented less corporate organic mindset and we would indeed all be better off.

  84. @Jocelyn A corporate behemoth like Whole Foods is not in any way the answer to moving us forward in the local, sustainable foods movement. They are causing small local businesses to struggle and even go under when they come to town. Shopping there supports their “take no prisoners” business model which is very much like what WalMart has been doing for the past 20 years or so.

    Reply
  85. I completely agree with you Sarah, great article!! I buy ONE thing from our Whole foods and that is Organic/Jersey/Creamline/Grassfed yogurt…In NC it is the closest thing to Raw Milk we can get. So even though it’s $6+ for 32 oz it is worth it because my kids need their yogurt and I think this is way better than making my own with the pasteurized stuff even though it’s “local” milk, I don’t feel it’s near as quality milk as this yogurt is and my kids love it. The little general store near me does carry it but at $8+ a bottle, considering my kids go through yogurt like water, it’s just for now something I concede on for our health and budget sake.

    But otherwise I truly despise whole foods. Almost everything that is “packaged” has CANOLA and/or SOY in it!!! Any of their packaged/deli type items, the hot bar etc is all loaded with canola or soy. And let’s not even talk about the “Hot Bar/salad Bar” and their deli etc…Almost none of it is even organic. All of the salad dressings have canola…even ALL of the dressings on the shelf on the counters. But that’s pretty much all the health food stores though, makes me sad that all the organics have so much soy and canola. :/

    But anyway, I totally agree with you and am SOOOO motivated to get settled here (we just moved) and get our land and house started so I can then start the store I’ve been planning for the last 3 yrs. It WILL be GMO Free, and completely local and if not all “organic” I WILL know about the farming practices and that they “meet” most organic standards, most people here are pretty dedicated to healthy/safe crops even if they aren’t “certified” and I will show WF how it’s done! It’s not just going to be a grocery though, it will be a super awesome family place, so so much awesomeness, can’t wait to start it and share it wit the world that it can be done! :)

    Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Whole Foods really is just an upscale WalMart (with a “go green” marketing focus) with a store layout that is so impressive and beautiful that people just love to go there. I just love the layout and feel of walking through Whole Foods. Who wouldn’t? Don’t get sucked in. Go get your boots dirty at your local farm instead. Much better for your children to see you make the commitment to buy local and choose not to buy (or buy as little as possible) from a 9 BILLION dollar corporation that gives lip service to local. Make a stand people!
      Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: Breaded Beef Heart (Your Family Will Eat This)

      Reply
  86. Sarah, It still seems like you absolutely refuse to acknowledge the differing opinions that have been posted above. Many people have said that they simply don’t have access to local farms year round, or that their local farms are actually benefiting from Whole Foods, or that their local health food stores sell nothing but vitamins and supplements. Someone mentioned that not everything is always black and white, but it appears that nothing is going to change your mind on this issue.

    Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      No, nothing will change based on people bashing me personally here and on other blogs. I have ideals to which I strive which doesn’t suggest that I am perfect neither are the local businesses I support, but I choose to spend my money where it will make the most difference in the world and no amount of Sarah bashing will change that.
      Why is everyone so down on me for buying local is what I’m wondering? Very strange and unexpected. Hopefully, my position has at least made you consider spending your money elsewhere.

      Monsanto 2010 Revenue $10.5 BILLION
      Whole Foods 2010 Revenue $9 BILLION

      These two companies are buddies. I would bet money their executives have been skiing together in Vail or Aspen this winter. Whole Foods would not exist in its current form without Monsanto. Monsanto would be making a whole lot less money without Whole Foods. One is the enabler of the other. You support one, you support the other.
      Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: Breaded Beef Heart (Your Family Will Eat This)

      Reply
      • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        By the way, I clearly said in the post that if Whole Foods should be treated like any other supermarket or WalMart. If that’s all you have, then shop there. If you have options, then exercise them. It is some readers who have made my position black and white, not me. In other posts I say all the time that if the best you can buy is SPAM, then buy SPAM. I am far from dogmatic, but I do strive for the ideal wherever and whenever possible.
        Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: Breaded Beef Heart (Your Family Will Eat This)

        Reply
        • I very much appreciate your reply. I don’t think the “if you can only buy SPAM, buy SPAM” mentality/frame of mind came across in your original post. Of course we all want to strive for ideal, and I completely understand your position on that. But my original frustration stemmed from feeling a bit “looked down upon” for not always being able to purchase the ideal, especially when the ideal seems like a secret to outsiders who don’t know about the same sources as you do (i.e. farmers who don’t wish to advertise publicly). I don’t think people are down on you for buying local at all–I just think people feel the need to defend themselves for shopping at Whole Foods if that is their only option for certain products. Also, I don’t think people’s intentions are to bash you as a person. Many people, including myself, have said how much we learn from you–but you even said in your other post about WholeFoods that sometimes your claws come out, and the “my way or the highway” type of tone is off putting at times. I understand your position on the company and Monsanto and hopefully things will change for the better.

          Just so you know, I tried going to my local health food store instead of WF today, and it is a terribly run store with stale food and very rude employees. But–I tried!

          Thanks again for your reply.

          Reply
      • Wow I’ve been reading both blogs for a while and this is a heated topic. Sarah I can tell you I would never intend to bash you, and I have been the beneficiary of knowledge gained because of you and for that I’m grateful. I do think, though, that you are having a really hard time seeing what many of my fellow readers are trying to express to you. I read on the “other” blog that someone said it seems like you feel you are being persecuted for your view and you might think that somehow validates your position. I can see that in your words.

        It feels a little like you are playing the victim when you say things like “Why is everyone so down on me for buying local is what I’m wondering? Very strange and unexpected”. I’ve read the threads fully, and I haven’t seen anywhere where you’ve been put down for buying local. Unless I missed a whole section of posts or something? I think everyone on both blogs have expressed they desire and commitment to buying local, and even the people who’ve said they shop Whole Foods have mostly limited their purchases to local items sold at Whole Foods. I’m kind of thick skinned, so while I often think the way you say things are kind of rude, I don’t really care – but most people I know are not as “thick-skinned” as I am and I can see how it’s gets people fired up. What I’ve noticed is it’s not usually WHAT you say but HOW you say it. I think you have a good thing going here, and I’m sure your motivation is good but your method needs a little tweaking if you want to reach as many people as possible with your message. I mean this sincerely and constructively, and I hope someone would share the same with me if I were veering off course. Your previous responses make me fear you take to heart the criticisms you’ve received. I sincerely hope you prove me wrong. You are in a position to do so much good!

        Reply
        • Correction: “Your previous responses make me fear you WON’T take to heart the criticisms you’ve received.”

          Reply
          • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

            First and foremost, I have to be true to myself when I blog. If others don’t get me, then let the chips fall where they may. I won’t blog if I have to pretend to be or write in a style that is not me.

            I’ve gotten plenty of “atta girl” emails too about this post so the criticism is a vocal minority and not the majority opinion. Plenty of folks enjoy the hard hitting way I write about what I am passionate about. It would be silly for me to expect everyone to agree with what I write or for everyone to enjoy my writing style. There is no possible way for me to please everyone and it would be unrealistic for me to expect to.

            Some criticism is a good thing as it shows that I have brought up a good topic for discussion. Preaching to the choir all the time would be quite boring.
            Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: Breaded Beef Heart (Your Family Will Eat This)

          • Of course you got “atta girl” messages! You know why? Because there are people on both sides of every debate. You’ll never have everyone agreeing or disagreeing with you. It’s just disappointing that you are only interested in preaching to your choir, though – especially now that you’re on the WAPF board. You indeed will never please everyone, but I don’t think that’s where this debate truly lies. I’m afraid your unapologetically “hard-hitting” approach might knock a few too many people over to make your point. If it were just a couple maybe you could chalk it up them being sissies – too easily offended, but I’ve sat back and watched your name come up in various forums and it seems there’s a pattern.

            I too am kind of a big personality and not too easily offended, and I’ve had to learn along life’s way that if being “true to myself” is hurting other people along the way, or the cause I’m passionate about, it might be time to re-evaluate.

          • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
            Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist March 18, 2012 at 9:42 am

            And here’s the real truth .. it doesn’t really matter what I say .. when you’ve got a blog like mine that addresses the tough issues you are going to get slammed regardless of how I say it. It’s always best to just be yourself!

            And if being honest is overly hard hitting, then so be it. I’m am always going to be honest in my approach to blogging and say exactly what I feel needs to be said.

          • Mmmmm. That would most definitely be a predictable answer. :)
            In order to make a lasting difference we have to see the value in humility, patience, tolerance, and find the ability to step out of our comfort zones. Even the teacher must be teachable.

          • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

            Being honest and passionate about what one believes and being plainspoken about it is a very good and desirable thing. It’s the way I’ve always been my entire life and I would be proud to have it inscribed on my tombstone. That post was written exactly as I wanted it to be and I would write it again in a heartbeat. Many who have criticized it probably haven’t even read it through end to end else they wouldn’t be so abusive in their commenting elsewhere.
            Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: Can Candida Sufferers Drink Kombucha?

          • Abusive? I’ve read both blogs/comments in full and haven’t seen anything that qualifies as abuse. I’m not saying you should like what they’re saying but what I read was just a description of peoples experiences here. Sounds to me like people are being honest and plainspoken in much the same way you are. Doesn’t make any difference to me, but I’m a guy. Women don’t tolerate rudeness the way we do.

  87. Rachel Budman-Burke via Facebook March 17, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    thehealthyhomeeconomist: You are lucky to have that type of healthfood store in your area. I’ve lived in many places over the years and have never found one that does what yours does.

    Reply
  88. I really wish that those who are not happy with this blog post and some of the other material that Sarah has written would realize that this is Sarah’s blog. She is free to say whatever she wants. I have a blog too, and I’m not one to not say what I think for fear of somebody unsubscribing from my list. I’ve never done that, I tell it like it is. If we lived life that way, nothing would ever get accomplished. If you don’t like what’s being said, don’t read the blog.

    I believe with all my heart that to combat the corporate bio-terrorists like Monsanto we cannot back down for any reason, and that means not supporting corporations who are supporting them such as WFs. If you have a WFs near you and it’s all you have, so be it. You don’t have to post that you disagree with me or Sarah, or anyone else. And I don’t recall Sarah ever saying that if you shop there, you are a bad person. She’s just trying to do what she feels is consistent and supportive of a sustainable future for our food and farms, the same as I am doing. Does that make either of us condescending or rude? I don’t think it does. I think those are two entirely separate things.

    I also wrote a post about this subject last month, and I have had some critical commentary on my blog and on Facebook. I’m sure many of the people here would have scathing things to say about what I wrote. But the fact remains that WFs has committed some unforgivable transgressions – which I outlined and referenced. They’ve done this for years and continue to do it. I used to submit comments via their web site, but I stopped doing it because I observed that it did not good. What has had the largest impact by my witness is supporting local farmers. In my area, our sustainable community has grown by leaps and bounds, and like some people in my city have suggested, I would be an absolute fool to just start shopping at WFs when they open later this year, and abandon all my wonderful, caring local farmers (not to mention the great prices we get) and instead go to WFs. We also have a wonderful local, health food store which supports these food growers and farmers. I realize not everyone has these choices, but everyone has to do what they will or can, and not bash someone else if they decide they don’t want to shop at WFs and write a blog about it, and include what are logical reasons behind not doing it.

    Reply
    • Hi Raine – Sorry I just don’t have it in me to respond to your specific points. I’m ready for this debate to die down. But, I read your blog post re: Whole Foods, and am interested in your opinion on Sarah’s recommendation for grass fed meat. I saw you posted your concerns about grain finishing cattle, and you said in bold: “The last 30 days of an animal’s life is the most critical for assessing nutrient quality of the meat.” Someone mentioned earlier that Sarah recommends finishing cattle on grain, but for less time than conventional meat, and I just found the following on her facebook page from a read: “On a fully grass fed cow…. grass finished vs. grain finished?? What is your recommendation?” Her response was: “I do not like completely grassfinished beef as it is like leather. I like nonGMO grain finished for about 3 weeks. No longer than that else the nutrition starts to disappear rapidly.”

      I have always heard what you said on your post, that the last 30 days on pasture are critical, so I was shocked by this response. Our farmer finishes without grain, and we don’t have the leathery meat problem, but I’m wondering what you think the implications are of this 3 weeks of grain feeding? I have friends asking me these questions, and Sarah’s recommendation has thrown me for a loop. I’m not ready to change my stance from 100% grass fed unless I learn more, you know?

      Reply
  89. Nicole – depending on who you ask, you will certainly get different answers. I don’t think some grain at the end is bad, and I’m not a farmer, I just wouldn’t eat any beef that had been on a feedlot eating grain alone the last 90-120 days of its life. I think that’s vastly different than being fed *some* grain the last few weeks, and also grass, which is what I’ve always understood that to mean. When cattle were on fields in the historical past, they would naturally eat some grains and other feed where they grazed, so this is not too much different than this situation.

    Honestly, I have eaten 100% grassfed meat and also some that had a bit of grain at the end, and I have liked both. The main objection I have, and I’m sure Sarah agrees, is for the cattle to be on a feedlot the last 90-120 days of their lives where they have absolutely no access to pasture at all. I hope that is helpful, and in keeping with what Sarah has said as well.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your reply! I definitely agree – feedlot is a terrible idea. Like I said, my farmer finishes totally on grass and our meat is very tender, but when I give friends advice on what to ask their farmers this threw me for a loop. Now I know there is some variability in opinions on if grain-finishing is acceptable. Thanks again!

      Reply
  90. I sat on this one for a few days and came back and wow, Sarah, I think you opened Pandora’s box! My feelings on Whole Foods is mixed. They are a large corporation and they do have issues but they also have some redeeming points. For instance, the company gives significant support to local start-up businesses which in turn helps the local economy. I have seen several local businesses start and flourish within the past few years and a lot of this has to do with the support of Whole Foods. They are able to get their products in several regional stores with the potential to get into statewide stores. Being in California, this is pretty massive.

    Though I see some of the good of Whole Foods, I know that they are not perfect and also respect the need to support smaller local stores, businesses, and farms directly. I do most of my shopping at a co-op which is 30 miles away from my home. I also do some shopping at a local health food store but they are actually more expensive than Whole Foods and do not carry some products. Most if not all of my vegetables come from local farmers markets and I also participate in community supported agriculture.

    Being an informed shopper is most important when shopping at any store. Most of the packaged stuff is just what I called it, stuff, and not food. If a person adopts a whole foods diet then they will do most if not all of there shopping on the perimeter of the store, mainly in the produce and meat sections. GMO’s is one of several issues out there. Most packaged foods have some form of processed soy, corn, and MSG. These things are in “healthy foods” and I find them in all of my local health food stores. Not sure why these things are passing off as healthy but they are and people need to get informed about what they are eating.

    On the issue of GMOs, recently when at a local Whole Foods store there was campaigning being done by The Committee for the Right to Know regarding their ballot initiative for mandatory labeling of GMO products in CA. Also, yesterday when in Whole Foods, I noticed that an item was labeled “Non-GMO Project Verified” which was a little refreshing.

    I totally understand staying true to self when speaking out but understand that with power comes responsibility. Of course there will be people out there who are offended by the things that we say but there are so many people out there struggling to get things right with there diet and need a supportive, nurturing environment to help them along. This is where our leadership abilities step in and we know how to respond to the ones who are just offended because that’s just what some people do vs. the people who need nurturing direction.

    I am sure that your post has opened many people’s eyes to the issue of GMOs. If the California ballot passes then there is no stopping the possibility of mandatory labeling being required across the nation. Hopefully, this is something that we all are taking a strong stance on and supporting the movement somehow.

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist March 19, 2012 at 9:08 am

      That was the whole (pun intended) point of this post! Not to insult people but to make them THINK about where they are spending their money and not just do it blindly out of the convenience and glitz of Whole Foods. I have NEVER shopped at Whole Foods as I ALWAYS knew they were a problem. I have occasionally met someone there for lunch or picked up a kombucha there when traveling, but I have never ever ever felt spending a significant amount of money there was the right way to go. Thank you for this thoughtful response, Janis. I very much appreciate it.

      Reply
      • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
        Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist March 19, 2012 at 9:10 am

        By the way, I have NO PROBLEM opening Pandora’s Box and will do so again and again despite getting slammed whereever it may come from. This is the ONLY way any of us are going to move forward is to question the status quo and get uncomfortable sometimes. If we continue on the way we are, we are doomed. We all must change much more and that includes me (although toning down my message is not one of them).

        Reply
  91. Haha! I couldn’t agree more. The two are more similar than many think.

    There is quite a bit of irony currently taking place in my neighborhood. I live in a rather quiet part of East Dallas where one of the original Whole Foods was located (and is no longer). This particular WF is actually being refurbished as a Walmart!!!

    Enjoy the site.
    Brian Johnson\’s last post: Recipe Skills: Nourishing Chicken Stock

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  92. I find it interesting to see so many comments about getting fresh organic produce from WF. I live in Houston, the 4th largest city in America, and on any given day you can go in to the WF I USED to shop at and find one or two, MAYBE three organic options at best and the rest is conventional. I asked an associate one time, “Do you still sell organic produce here?” He just said, “We must be all out.” Nice. THANKFULLY we found a local organic coop that we just started using and it is FABULOUS. Everything is so fresh and flavorful. My two year old ate a plate of tomatoes, avocado, broccoli, carrots, and zucchini tonight. Fresh, organic, and WAY cheaper than WHOLE PAYCHECK, as we call it around here.

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  93. I think the takeaway message should be that we can all make efforts to change out buying habits, and that just because we’ve shopped at grocery stores most of our lives (as some of us have) and depended on large corporations for our food, doesn’t mean that we can’t look for ways to change what we are doing. And I think Sarah has done that beautifully. Sometimes to get people out of their comfortable spots that may not be such a good thing to do, there needs to be some pulling back of the curtain so they can see what’s really going on. It’s too easy to assume something is just fine because of slick marketing and advertising. Remember, big companies spend more of their budget on these two expenses than anything else. And unless you can’t verify the source of the food you buy, it’s all completely unknown. I firmly believe If we the educated consumers don’t stand up for sustainable principles, we’ll continue to get more of the same – commercial foods cleverly disguised as organic, local, and sustainable.

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  94. Pingback: Agriculture Society » 4 Ways to Avoid GMOs in the Foods You Buy

  95. I find this whole thread a bit funny.
    I am an older Mom and have been ‘into’ whole foods for over 33 years. I still have two teen age boys at home who eat like food is going out of style.
    Way back before computers, we had 20 families attending monthly Co-op meetings that lasted 2-4 hours as we put together huge orders to several vendors. Then two weeks later, we met in a Fire Station to distribute everything. Even back then, though, I got some of our food from Kroger and Safeway. I chose wisely and stuck to my budget, as well as my convictions.
    Newsflash! I still buy stuff at Kroger and this week I got some excellent wild caught Salmon there for $6. a pound and day-before the expiration date Kerrygold butter for $1.99 a pound.I have butter to last for months in the freezer. If I hadn’t ‘lowered’ my standards enough to visit Kroger, I would have never gotten such great deals!
    Everyone is doing the best that we can and division, while on the rise here in the good old USA is still a poor way to unite people. Nobody’s perfect, and no food is perfect, and no source for food is perfect.
    The reason that this thread is almost funny is that it is such a First World concern.
    We should be thankful that we have so many choices and that we are not watching our children go to bed hungry each night.
    Balance is everything.

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  96. DG - Eat Your Greens! March 27, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    I’ve been to a Whole Foods a few times in Atlanta. The selection was amazing, the prices out of this world ridiculous, and everything really seemed too good to be true, except the prices… It’s not impossible to have a completely GMO-free market like WF brass says it is. It’s just impossible to have a GMO-free super store, with locations nationwide, and a business model based on expansion and upward trajectory.

    But then chain store anything has never been your friend. Your friend is a local organic farmer with a sense of duty and purpose. And moral backbone like steel… Or grow it yourself. And put a net over your garden so Monsanto can’t come to your door accusing you of infringement when their stinking modified seeds blow onto YOUR property.

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  97. “Whole Foods really is just an upscale WalMart (with a “go green” marketing focus) with a store layout that is so impressive and beautiful that people just love to go there. ”

    You seriously need to think about what you say about the people that read your shitty blog and wonder why people are giving you hell. More than half the people that posted in these comments say they have no other choice but to go to WF. You sit there and say “Oh, they only go because it looks nice”. You know NOTHING about any of these people! I don’t even shop at WF, but am completely offended at how you speak to your readers. Your blog will not last long. You need to seriously look at how your speaking to the people that have been giving you support. You’re rude and undeserving of any kind of reader base. This is by far the WORST blog I have ever come across.

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  98. I think it’s rather unfair to make such a negative generalization about an entire company. Each region and each store operates wildly different from one another, as every buyer in every store has free reign to make their own choices. The store I have been working at for the past 7 years is a huge supporter of local farms, grassfed meats, local seafood, and organic handmade products. Yes, there are still plenty of products that could be considered “Walmart” quality, but to say that all of it is is a downright lie. In an ideal world it would be nothing but organic and local, but due to constant customer complaints and requests, not to mention that they are still a business that needs to actually make a profit to operate, there are still inferior products sold. One of the biggest complaints about “Whole Paycheck” is price, what do you think would happen if they rid their shelves of everything but organic? It’s a nice concept that should be worked towards, but you have to convince the general public of that first. It’s not the company’s fault.

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  99. I shop Trader Joe’s and the PCC. 25 years ago, the PCC was all about granola and getting your peanut butter out of vats, using your own jars. Boy, has that changed. They are all dressed up like whole foods now. And I can’t afford either of them. So Trader Joe’s it is!

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  100. I just got back from whole foods, I asked for chicken feet and they told me they don´t carry feet or ears or anything of that sort because it is inhumane. If there is something that I dislike more than whole foods is how in love with whole foods its employees are, or team members as they call them. If you ask them if the baking soda has aluminum they will say I don’t know but if it is bad for you then probably not because we really care about everything that goes in all our products. If it is in whole foods you can trust it that is from a really good source, they add.

    I was wondering if someone can tell me why is it inhumane to eat chicken feet? Is it more humane to eat the animal and toss the feet?
    Thanks
    Liliana\’s last post: El mejor caldo de pollo

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  101. I agree with you whole heartedly. Whole Foods is also insensitive to the needs of the poor and diminishing middle class. My recent investigative trip to the local store had me in state of anger over the $8 per pound cost of ground turkey.I am trying to teach students (high school ) how to navigate through the food system to find clean food that is affordable! Whole Foods claims that they are trying to reach out to the “little people” by offering coupons and lower cost proteins? I don’t see it unless they are referring to brown rice, quinoa and lentils . How can a working poor family afford to buy poultry, especially ground turkey, on a SNAP (food stamp budget)
    I am a private chef to the 1% and refuse to shop at Whole Foods! I also do business with local independent health stores and farmers markets. primarily.
    Whole Food has a license to steal and they lack integrity. What are they giving back, aside from occasional free food for public activites. I laugh at that gesture. It’s throwing crumbs to the poor. They need to start lowering their prices on certain products. They can start with ground turkey!

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  102. I wish i could show you a picture of the back of my local whole foods. It’s a mess sloppy and disorganized and of course that’s where all their garbage and recycling is done and anone who drives around the store can see it.. Makes me automaticly think all the green talk WF spouts is just talk. They sell a comodity all right…feel good hope for a better tomorrow all neatly packaged in a brown paper bag.

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  103. I’m new to this website, althought NOT new to the health foods topic. I just finished reading all these posts and feel the need to put my 2 cents in.
    I can’t patronize Whole Foods, because they support Planned Parenthood. Even tho this is not the forum for that subject, my point is that the reality is, For Evil to prevail, all it takes is for good folks to do nothing.
    Patronizing Whole Foods, no matter how small the purchase empowers evil giants like Monsanto in the name of eating well. The price is too high.

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  104. Pingback: Corporate Responsibility Spotlight: Whole Foods Market « 聚光灯

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  106. Whole Foods is disgusting. In Colorado they are now selling something like 10,000 pounds of Talapia a month through Whole Foods stores that is being raised by prisoners in the state prison system.

    First we discover that the corporations are in bed together, and have conspired to sell us Whole Food, that is not really WHOLELY FOOD, and now we see that the same corporations are in bed together, and are conspiring to use slave labor, under the guise of “incarceration”, to feed us, surreptitiously, food raised by the nation’s prisoners.

    How do we know anything is true that Whole Foods tells us, since it is obvious that they would do anything for “a buck”?

    Why has the US prison population exploded since 1990? Uh, Ray Charles could see that one, and he has been dead for 10 years.

    Could it be that there is no such thing as “MONEY”? It is a congame where the corporations are converting the time in people’s lives into the capital they exist upon.

    Why would the State of Colorado, or any state for that matter, ever want to let a man or woman, go, if they can create a bogus corporation, under the guise of “corrections”, which creates investment capital for the state pensioners?

    You are being deceived!

    Go to CAFR1.COM and see how the local, state, and federal governments control everything through their investment portfolios.

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  107. Alexandros Agelastos via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 8:50 am

    apart from what you are mentioning, which is absolutely true, Whole Foods sell GMOs too. Support small businesses, farmers directly or grow your own. Whole Foods are sellouts!

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  108. Sounds exactly what happened here in Portland Maine. First they bought out Wild Oats, then they bought land/built store, then they bought out our locally owned natural food store. Luckily we have a couple of local stores just a couple towns away, a fabulous year round farmer’s market, a local dairy that sells raw milk (when WF moved in they PROMISED to sell raw dairy and local foods and that lasted only a couple of months) and I only go there on rare occasions.

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  109. Ladonna Beals via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I have visited a couple of Whole Foods while traveling and reading labels is very important. There are many non-organics and unhealthy foods in Whole Foods!

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  110. Kathryn Zochert Berg via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Yep, except that Wal-mart lowers prices to put their competition out of business. Can’t accuse WF of doing that! Join your local Food Coop.

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  111. Thank you for your always insightful reports. I admire you. You are my inspiration for the way I eat and live today. I’m learning more traditional cooking everyday and try to follow Weston A. Price guidelines. My family has now been processed food free for 7 months now! Keep it up.

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  112. Sandy Worsham Engels via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 9:00 am

    It’s all about awareness and the individual taking control. Thanks for sharing this info. There are some things that I can’t get at my local market. I’ve asked them to carry these items so that I don’t have to go to WF. Hoping they catch on soon that I want to shop local.

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  113. TerriAnn Welsh-Farrell via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 9:02 am

    local health food stores also have GMO products and also are in business to make a profit. do you expect WF to open stores in areas where no one will come?

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  114. Whistling Chicken November 2, 2012 at 9:03 am

    So, are you against corporate profits or just against Whole Foods selling foods that are not in line with the image they project? I seriously hope you not against capitalism. The Whole Foods in our area provides jobs to a lot of people and carries quite a bit of decent real foods, along with choices. I don’t think there is anything left at Walmart that I can actually buy for my family.

    There are certain things I can get only at Whole Foods or similar stores, such as the organic, raw sugar you recommend here on your site…unless I order it online, which is not always feasible. We don’t all have local, health food stores to shop from. The single health food store that we have here carries a ton of boxed products like boxed cereals. And, their prices are even higher than Whole Foods, their hours are very limited and their selection is poor.

    Fortunately, I do raise chickens (it’s impossible to afford organic food for them) and grow a garden and buy meat from a local farmer, as well as raw milk…but doing this does tap out a budget quickly…

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  115. David Naylor via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 9:08 am

    When the new Whole Foods Market opened up in Plymouth Meeting, PA, they were selling raw milk, but that only lasted 2-3 months, and then it was gone. That put a bad taste in my mouth regarding WFM. Now I shop at a small local health food store and only use WFM as a last resort.

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  116. Kimberly Alyssa via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 9:15 am

    David I live close by in pa! The best and only local store besides the farmers market is kimberton whole foods, tons of local meats, eggs, raw milk ect. There are a few locations! :)

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  117. Kimberly Alyssa via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 9:17 am

    They also carry as much non.gmo project products as I’ve ever seen anywhere, they donate to the project eerytime you use a reusable bag also :)

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  118. Elizabeth Keith via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 9:20 am

    the USDA DOES NOT inpsect from overseas. they have PRIVATE inspectors… who are bought for and paid by whom?…deep pockets indeed.

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  119. David Naylor via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 9:21 am

    @Kimberly – I’ve been there a few times, but they are a bit far from me (about a 50 min drive). Martindales Natural Market in Springfield, PA is a lot closer to where I am :)

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  120. Sandra Donan Good via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 9:21 am

    unfortunately, some places don’t have another alternative. Every place listed in Memphis as a “health food” store is nothing more than a supplement pushing store front.

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  121. I definitely buy most of my groceries from the local co-op or farmers’ market (including ALL grass-fed meat, dairy, and produce). But for anything that isn’t grown locally, like rice, quinoa, etc. I go to Whole Foods. We do have a couple of local places, but the selection is AWFUL. If Whole Foods is what I need to provide my family with good, organic foods then I’ll take it. I know what brands to support and what to look for on the labels.

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  122. This is so funny, this is EXACTLY what I told my friends yesterday “Whole Foods is the Walmart of Healthfood” maybe some stuff but that place is pricey too and you dont get the benefits of local, bulk etc…we have to do our research on better sources and share with others to help them out in their journey as well.

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  123. I was at Whole Foods yesterday here in California and they were passing out Yes on Prop 37 prop pins and had informational flyers on why to vote yes on Prop 37. Plus the host a farmers market every week in their parking lot where I can get local produce, meat, and eggs.

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  124. Anna Louise Hallquist via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 9:32 am

    They came into P- Town 18 years ago. Bought up the local cooperatives, then started this campaign of lowering prices on just those items the local grocery stores had for sale. At first, herbs and homeopathic remedies were in abundance, as there was still one little vitamin store that held out. Once that store went out of business they got rid of most of their bulk herbs, expanded their premade capsule and tincture collection and raised the price of homeopathic remedies above the MSRP. I called them on that. They said ” w

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  125. Anna Louise Hallquist via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 9:35 am

    “We’ll, there’s nothing illegal about that.” I shop at local farms, and stop in at cooperatives in neighboring towns when I’m passing through.

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  126. I find that it takes me longer and longer to shop these days because if a label does not specify that it contains no GMOs, I no longer buy it. Whole Foods to me is one of the only stores in my area that sells a good amount of organic adn GMO free products. I really don’t believe that they are the problem. Monosanto needs to be stopped. Sarah, I enjoy your videos and appreciate the some of the knowlege you share with us. I really don’t think that you will find a single store that does not sell GMO free and some food products that are not made in China. I don’t agree with either and avoid them at all cost, but I do believe that Whole Foods is making efforts to help with the Mononsato fight. As far as Trader Joe’s goes, I shop their occasionally but not many of their products are labeled GMO free so I do not believe that they are. I own a catering business and unlike most caterers, I do offer to create an organic menu but it surprises me that so many people are so uneducated about the foods they are eating or just do not seem to care. That itself is the most annoying to me. We need to take our food shopping into our own hands. Regardless of where you shop, look at labels and buy only organic!

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  127. Well that is an unfair and inflamitory article. Walmart is a disgusting company, doing Nothing positive for communities or employees or the environment, the opposite of Whole Foods. As a well treated and very informed employee of theirs, I see first hand the things they actually do, the programs they invest in, the education of their employees and customers that they take so seriously. They have not flip flopped about GMOs, that statement simply says that they cannot possibly, given the current state of things, be nonGMO and still satisfy their customers. Nor can they, or anyone else claim to be a 100% nonGMO grocery.
    If you are against a small company that has been such a huge success that it is now a large (and mindful) corporation, then you are against success in general. How can you hold profit against any business?
    Most of your views are quite extreme, so I don’t see why this should bother me, but it does. Whole foods makes available to people like me, that do shop at local organic farms and ranches, other items that are not so readily available. Huge selections of specialty foods for those with alergies or sensitivities that were previously not around or ridiculously priced. Not every little local health food store carries this stuff, and not every community had those stores to begin with.
    Good for you that you don’t need or want whole foods, but so many people do. Don’t forget about that.

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  128. Stephanie Pruett Amuso via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 9:45 am

    I live 5 minutes from the new Whole Foods. They have a wonderful and affordable selection of organic produce (organic grapes $1.99/lb.) They sell step 5 pastured pork (bacon & sausage) from Thompson Farms. They sell grass fed beef and organic chicken. They sell kombucha. Wild caught seafood. Hmmm….I’m trying to see the negative here??? Sorry but we will be shopping there weekly.

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  129. Well that is an unfair and inflamitory article. Walmart is a disgusting company, doing Nothing positive for communities or employees or the environment, the opposite of Whole Foods. As a well treated and very informed employee of theirs, I see first hand the things they actually do, the programs they invest in, the education of their employees and customers that they take so seriously. They have not flip flopped about GMOs, that statement simply says that they cannot possibly, given the current state of things, be nonGMO and still satisfy their customers. Nor can they, or anyone else claim to be a 100% nonGMO grocery.
    If you are against a small company that has been such a huge success that it is now a large (and mindful) corporation, then you are against success in general. How can you hold profit against any business?
    Most of your views are quite extreme, so I don’t see why this should bother me, but it does. Whole foods makes available to people like me, that do shop at local organic farms and ranches, other items that are not so readily available. Huge selections of specialty foods for those with alergies or sensitivities that were previously not around or ridiculously priced. Not every little local health food store carries this stuff, and not every community had those stores to begin with.
    Good for you that you don’t need or want whole foods, but so many people do. Don’t forget about that.

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  130. Kimberly Wright via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Our Whole Foods has quite a bit of local produce in all seasons. I think just because you still need your “buyer beware” cap on in Whole Foods that it deserves the Wal-Mart of Healthfood label. Whole Foods customer service is far superior to a Wal-Mart and many of the things they carry I can’t find anywhere else. I do the majority of my shopping at my local farmer’s market(fruits and veggies & eat seasonally) and directly from local farmers (through the winter even – meats, dairy -milk, cheeses, yogurt, butter) but I won’t stop shopping at Whole Foods just because they’re honest in saying that they can’t have a 100% GMO free store. It’s not their fault that our government is in bed with Monsanto and has allowed all of this GMO atrocity! In our un-perfect world, WF provides a valuable service and I don’t think they need to be boycotted because they don’t do everything perfectly.

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  131. Lindsay Beck Jacobsen via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 9:48 am

    I admire and respect your choice of where to spend your dollars.. But to classify Whole Foods (where I’ve never shopped either, by the way) as some evil entity because they are motivated by profit… Do you think your small stores/farmers would be there if they, too, weren’t trying to make a living? I agree that those who have enough dollars to “vote” with should, but I don’t think there is anything inherently nobler about being small. Small has to make a profit too.

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  132. Whole Foods sells designer junk food. I use a CSA, but there are a couple of items that I haven’t been able to get from my CSA (either they stopped carrying an item or they say they have trouble securing supply of an item) and my local Whole Paycheck sells these item. They are all from local producers. I don’t go much, but when I do I’m in awe with thew crap they sell – crops that are from far away (I live in Ohio, farming doesn’t get any better or more plentiful than the midwest), crap meat (all these people say they get GF and pastured meat at WF, but most of what I see is NOT GF or pastured), rotten foods on the shelf (I got 2 jarred items that very quickly expired – WF offered me a refund on next visit, but I so rarely go in that it’s not worth trying to mess with), plus all the packaged vegan health food. I wish I never had to stop in there….

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  133. Nathan Blakesley via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Everyone has to make profit, but when the entirety of the selling point for your store is, in the end, nothing more than greenwashing, at that point you’ve traded ethics for profit. Honestly, if I want organic I grow my own, or hit up the local farmer’s market. If I’m not being picky (I’m not saying I don’t consume any GMO products or only consume organic) then I’d just as soon save my money and buy somewhere cheaper, instead of paying 3 prices for the same product, just in a package that says “save the world we’re organic and better than everyone else”.

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  134. I have shopped Whole Foods regularly for 15 years. It is not perfect but I can go there and buy nearly everything I need and not have extreme crappy food displayed all over that entices my kids. The prices on items on sale can be great. It is a far better place to buy organic (cheaper and fresher) than other large markets. Cost and is important. Convenience is also important. When possible I buy locally through farmers markets, local locavore groups, farmers, and a tiny health food store. I’m totally proud of my families food choices and rely on the imperfect Whole Foods to help with that.

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  135. LOL, Sarah! Are you a glutton for punishment or what? You didn’t get quite enough abuse the first time around when you posted this article? Thank you for sharing your thoughtful, well-researched viewpoints – even when they’re so unpopular. Please keep up the good work!

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  136. The prices at Whole Foods blow my mind! I was trying to see how much Kerrygold butter was there compared to other places – Whole Foods was $3.99. Trader Joe’s for the same product was $2.99, and Costco had the same product for $2.67 each. A dollar more for the same product??? That adds up if you buy a whole grocery load there. Yikes.

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  137. Margaret Fulmer Wolf via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 10:22 am

    It is the only place I can go in my area to buy organic veggies and fruit. I also do purchase organic bulk items. Sometimes you have to weigh what is more important to you, eating a healthy diet, or making a point. I am choosing health.

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  138. Elisa Bieg via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Extremely disappointed in Whole Foods!! Why would one shop there if there is no guarantee that the products are any better that at any other (much more affordable) grocery store? SHAME.

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  139. Janet Grear via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 10:29 am

    To compare whole foods to Walmart is just not valid! I could go on and on all day about how much the whole foods in my area has helped me shop easier for my gluten free family. Walmart on the other hand is a huge problem for the world, to put whole foods in the same sentence as that store is just out of line. Business needs to make profit and that is the idea when you start a business. I work for a small family business and I can tell you that the owner is completely motivated by bringing in as much traffic as possible….while trying to give her customers the best she can.

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  140. Janet Grear via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 10:32 am

    @elisa I can say that my whole foods is 100% better products than the other stores around me. I can guarantee that I am getting a better product by looking at what I am buying and knowing that I cannot get it any other store that is near me. THAT is why I shop there….FYI

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  141. Thank you for sharing your perspective on this with me! I have always had a certain realization that whole foods was BIG business which caused me … Well a little discomfort. I’m not one to demonized success, but on the other hand there is so much benefit from local farms and from small businesses staying in our communities, that I don’t want to see them all disappear. As each small company whose products I had benefitted from got bought out by big AG or even by the supposedly more natural version of big AG and the formulas that helped us changed or were discontinued. The more my discontent grew with that BIG factor. I am now a supporter of local because it works so much better for my family. And there is literally only one product left that I want from whole foods. I think I’ll ask one of the lovely people at my local Raisin Rack if they can get me the Erivan yogurt. Or maybe I’ll find a way to replace it and work from a yogurt starter when I make my 24 hr yogurt.

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  142. Anne Ahern via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 10:40 am

    This happens almost everywhere….just a little more shocking that it would be this store. Goes to show that you should always read the package before you buy something you will be ingesting! Common sense lol.

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  143. Emily-Kate Kuhs via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Oh please. We live in the Capitalist west, not a communist country. We should be allowed buy from where ever we choose and simply choosing not to shop in one store based on the fact that they produce countless dollars in profit is beyond me…..remember many small family ran companies blossomed to become huge businesses across the world and should we shy away from them because of their success?

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  144. Kristine Winniford via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 11:15 am

    While I mostly agree, I prefer to shop local and I see Whole Foods as just another big corporate store, I would NOT compare them to Walmart based soley on the fact that they treat their employess well and have a good sense of social responsibility. As far as the GMO issue goes, it’s up to us to be responsible for what we buy and then the store owners will follow suit. What we need is this truth in labeling law to come through, because GMO’s are all pervasive. I just found out my VERY expensive “Grass-Fed, Grain-Free, Pasture raised Beef” is being fed GMO alfalfa, they’re not organic but I thought they were “better” then organic since it had all the right lables.

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  145. Jessica Klieman via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 11:25 am

    when neighborhoods have no small local stores, isnt better to buy organic and have more natural options than to shop the safeways, etc with “non-food” items.

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  146. Annemarie Scolari via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    So I bet they’re going to close down Nature’s Harvest? I loved shopping there when I lived in Tampa. Whole Foods closed down my favorite shop where I grew up. They’re evil.

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  147. I couldn’t agree more! I’ve gone from loving Whole Foods to now mostly avoiding it and disliking it quite intensely. I really do not care for their vegan bent and their rampant use of canola and other unhealthy oils in their house foods is quite frankly, disgusting. I used to enjoy the experience of shopping there (the ambiance and all that jazz), but now, if I ever go there (rarely) I just feel sickened by the extravagant displays of expensive and gourmet food items that ordinary people simply can’t afford. For example, in my neck of the woods (the great white north), our local WF recently featured a “fungi” cart with all sorts of exotic mushrooms, priced incredibly high. Around the same time, they had an orchid sale (and the ordinary person still couldn’t afford to buy one at those prices). I just feel that they are WAY out of touch with reality. The average person is struggling with rising food prices and is in no way going to be able to afford extravagant luxuries like exotic mushrooms and orchids when they are working so hard to fill tummies with nourishing, real food. This sort of thing just makes me shake my head and sigh in utter frustration.

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  148. I’ve had direct experience selling to WFM and the challenge for small local farmers is that unless you can supply a whole region of stores (anywhere from 8 – 30 stores) more often than not, they will not accept your product. We have a few exceptions at our local WFM here in Santa Fe, NM…but I believe this to be an abberation and only because we live in a majorily foodie town..not to mention that you can buy the same product directly from the farmers with the full price going to the farmer and not WFM acting as the middle man. My feeling is that the only people buying “local” from WFM are the tourists!!!!

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  149. I love my Whole Foods. I work 60+ hours a week and don’t have time to go to the farmer’s farm, the farmer’s market, the food coop and other health food stores that I would have to go to to get everything I need. Thankfully, my Whole Foods is right next to Costco. Grass fed beef, pastured chicken, organic and local vegetables and Kerry Gold butter. One hour on weekday, one trip in the car and I’m done.

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  150. While Whole Foods is my shopping place of the absolute last resort, and only once every few months when there is no other choice, it seems to me that all of the rush to get to your new local WF is just an indication of the growing frustration that an increasing number of people have with the corruption of our food supply. With luck, and in time, some of those people will switch their shopping to good farms and greenmarkets, where traditional foods abound. I think we are at the forward edge of a big movement back to traditional practices. The evidence against “modern” food production is mounting daily, and it is a matter of time before people connect the dots and finally understand the impact that all this processed food is having on our health, on the corporate structures that benefit from it, on the pharmaceutical industry, in particular, and on the national economy. Please reach out to your friends in California and urge them to vote yes on Prop 37, and help bring transparency to our food supply.

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  151. Violet Revo via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    I don’t know why people expect grocery stores to tell them what is healthy to eat. It’s your job to do the research and purchase what you find to be healthy for yourself.

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  152. Nancy Ann Zamora via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    We have 2 Whole Foods in Albuquerque. I do go there once in a long while and it is expensive, in fact my son Tim calls them “WHOLE PAYCHECK!” He also calls Nieman Marcus “Needless Markup! He does have a sense of humor! :)

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  153. Nancy Ann Zamora via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    I like Sunflower Foods but they’ve now changed names to Sprouts. I like their fresh vegetables and a few other things but not much else.

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    • Actually, Whole Foods is in Canada and has been for some time, at least on the West Coast. Where I am, we have at least 4 stores, just in my city alone!

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  154. Linda McNary via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    We have to shop at the small businesses or they will go out of business. I’m tired of seeing these big chains take over the market everywhere. We have one here but I will shop local farmers and the smaller stores.

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  155. Susie Bailey via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    We don’t have a Whole Foods nearby…so while on vacation, I excitedly planned to spend some time at one. My husband had an appointment and I thought I’d hang out until he was done. I bought some groceries and sat out on the patio eating my lunch. With my car in my sight except for the few times I went into the store, my lock was broken out and we were robbed!! Some 10 spaces from the door of the store! ALL of our luggage was stolen along with a weapon. :( I can never look at WFs with fondness again. I found out that the area is prone to robberies..even the employees have been victims. :(

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  156. Karol-Anne Nicki Sweeney via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    I will keep shopping at the same small Health Food store I have shopped at since I was a teen back in the 1980′s. Whole Foods is a trendy “wanna be” HFS … They can keep it.

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  157. Wows,. I’m so saddened to see you got flamed by a few who can’t tolerate honest disagreement or criticism. I read and clearly understood what you wrote and what they have said themselves about GMOs. It is not hard to see the evil at work in their trying to play both sides of the fence to have a certain reputation while promoting causes that they fool their customers about. I have no interest in rolling over and accepting the pollution of my body or my land to Monsanto unde the deceitful guise of a peaceful solution. I say down with the hypocrisy and down with green washing. It is not wrong or hateful to have your own views or to stand up for them boldly. I love to hear what you really think tarnished by an effort to avoid the notice of such intolerant folks or even anyone who might disagree. I thank God for free speech!

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  158. Blanca Villanueva Perez via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I live in Texas and have one in my city; sure, I used to shop there…that is, until I read about them being pro-GMO. It’s on the other side of the city and, we will not waste our petrol to go shop there ever! Thanks for all the info. =)

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  159. You defiantly need to become a label detective. Now I know why I read an article awhile ago about the USDA certification as being a sham. I won’t eat any food imported from china here in Australia as I know they are laden with chemical residues from pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.

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  160. Jaime Bower via Facebook November 2, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I prefer sunflowers/sprouts… It’s a shame whole foods carries my preferred milk, otherwise I’d never shop there.

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  161. I shop at Whole Foods, though I’d MUCH rather shop at local farmer’s markets as I used to because it is much more cost effective. However, none of the markets sell organic produce/products & I’m not risking my health to save money. If someone knows an organic market in northern NJ, please let me know!

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  162. Richard Gamble via Facebook November 3, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Right on Sarah, I checked a few items I recently purchased and guess what I found, A can of 365 brand Skipjack wild tuna. PROCESSED AND PACKED IN VIETNAM I’m taking it back, shame on Whole Foods.

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  163. Rachel Budman-Burke via Facebook November 4, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Stephanie Pruett Amuso: I wish I lived that close to a Whole Foods. I love that store! And I would never waste a penny of my money at evil Walmart so for you to compare Whole Foods to Walmart is just your narrow minded opinion.

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  164. Jill Christianson Schwarz via Facebook November 4, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Did you see the expose about Whole Foods, and how they tell their employees to basically lie about whether their foods contain genetically modified ingredients or if they are outright GM foods? We all need to be sure to comment when we can, to management, to the owners, etc. Anything not saying “organic” even at Whole Foods is quite likely to contain at least GM ingredients.

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  165. Thank you, Sarah.

    I live in an RV full time, and I am a member of 7 food co-ops in the middle of the US. Wherever I go, I search for a co-op. In my experience, co-ops understand the politics of food — that’s why the “new” food co-ops were started in the ’70s, to build alliances between farmers and consumers; to promote a non-capitalistic, non-corporate cooperative business model; to eliminate the idea of profit from the distribution of food. It’s true that some co-ops have drifted from the lofty goals of their originators, but most of them are well aware of the politics of food.

    If I can’t find a co-op, I find a “mom and pop” health food store. I talk to people in cafes and laundromats about where to find local eggs and produce. If I can’t find anything in the area I’m in, WalMart and Whole Foods are my choices of last resort. They are alike in many ways, including their anti-union fanaticism and their focus on profit.

    I’m happy to eat a mostly plant based diet, which makes finding good food easier than if I wanted to eat processed food or meat — although I certainly eat processed food and meat from time to time.

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  166. Let’s not act too surprised, or go overboard. I do not shop at Whole Foods. I went once. It was disorganized, extremely overpriced, had employees who were either rude, uncaring/unhelpful, and/or who were carrying on like snake oil salesmen, complete with rolled-up sleeves.
    On the other hand, many small, local merchants often price-gouge and carry an insufficient inventory of merchandise, so not all such farmers or merchants are a godsend. You need to be just as cautious with them as with anyone.
    Finally. I was an organic gardener as far back as 1976. This much I know to be true. Even certified organic farms cannot be certain to be delivering 100% organic produce to market or to farmers’ markets. No one can control the wind that blows insecticide from neighboring non-organic farms. Similarly, naturally flowing water may carry both insecticides abnd manmade fertilizers, which may bre drawn into growing plants from underground.
    Simply put, just because it says ‘organic,’ doesn’t meant that it always is. Also, if it is grossly more expensive that non-organic, then you are being ripped off. Natural fertilizers and insect prevention cost less, not more, than mademade ones. They preserve the soil; they do not require more and more fertilizer and insecticides every year. And, as an organic gardener, I realized bountiful crops – more than my household could consume. I gave away more than we ate.

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  167. I shop at Whole Foods at least twice a week. Their prices on organics, non-GMOs and grass-fed animal foods are better than those I find anywhere else. I don’t care that they also sell non-organics, GMOs and imported foods. I also shop at a local farm and my local farmer’s markets. I’m an educated, informed shopper, and because Whole Foods Market labels everything clearly, I easily determine which foods I wish to buy. I don’t need a babysitter in my grocery store- nor do I feel that a store should offer ONLY those foods I deem it appropriate to eat.

    Thank goodness for Whole Foods… the diet I feed my family would be even more expensive and challenging to source if not for them. They’re a phenomenal store- one of the top 100 employers in the country (try comparing that to Walmart, lol) and I will continue to shop there- as I have no need to attempt to control what other people choose eat.

    Best!

    ~Huntress

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  168. Pingback: Forbidden News » Are you being scammed by the Whole Foods ‘fresh’ bar?

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  171. The main point is that consumers are informed by labeling and whatnot, not dictating to consumers what they should and shouldn’t accept. I see Whole Foods’ point. GMOs are often quite bad, but for poor people in this country the alternative could be going hungry, and that is worse.

    GMOs serve a purpose. Some people are not wealthy enough to be able to have the privilege of worrying about whether their food is genetically modified.

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  172. Sarah, thank you for your time to get the free education about reality , …. you got guts and stand what you believe in, and i like it…

    all the best to you.

    Reply

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