Whole Foods no longer “Whole Paycheck?”

Via Waylon Lewis
on Aug 2, 2008
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PHILADELPHIA — Shawn Hebb may have one of America’s toughest jobs: convincing people that Whole Foods Marketcan be an economical place to shop.

This week, leading five customers through a store here, he breezed past the triple cream goat cheese, $39.99 a pound, and the fresh tuna, $19.99 a pound, to focus on the merits of beans, chicken thighs and frozen fish.

Then he held up a $1.50 package of tofu. “It looks gross but it’s delicious,” he said.

Whole Foods Market is on a mission to revise its gold-plated image as consu…”

And here’s the rest of Andrew Martin’s NY Times article.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


22 Responses to “Whole Foods no longer “Whole Paycheck?””

  1. Sage Jessica Murphy says:

    Whole Foods no longer, “Whole Paycheck”, eh? Well, lets see… if a box of cereal at Whole Foods cost $3.39 and any kind of milk product (soy, rice, almond, cow, goat, oat, hemp) costs roughly $4.00 and up for a half gallon- and then you add sales tax and subtract income tax from the minimun wage and the minimum wage was just raised to roughly $7.00 an hour….then…hmmmmm….
    the average person would have to work over one hour (possibly two) to buy just cereal and milk.

    Through my own unscientific research I have noticed that the average cost of any given item at Whole Foods seems to almost always amount to $5.00 or more. Since the average annual salary for Americans across the board is a little under $27,000 (or about $12.00 an hour BEFORE taxes.)

    I would venture to say that yes, a trip to WHole Foods is liable (and likely) to cause the shopper to literally
    eat away one’s paycheck.

    Sorry to break the news to ya, folks, but there’s a reason why most of the people who shop at Whole Foods drive brand new cars and live in expensive houses. I’m not saying it’s bad place and I’m not saying that prices have become more competitive due to recent energy related price hikes hitting more mainstream grocery stores…but let’s not get crazy-
    For the rest of us, it’s still Whole Paycheck.

  2. Sage Jessica Murphy says:

    And another thing:

    I leave you with this quote highlighting the past few decades in America which have indicated a SEVERE and drastic change in income inequality which has pinpointed that the top 1% of the population has experienced income gains while the bottom has experienced losses.
    Economists Timothy Smeeding summed up the current trend of rising inequality on the pages of the Social Science Quarterly:[21]“
    Americans have the highest income inequality in the rich world and over the past 20-30 years Americans have also experienced the greatest increase in income inequality among rich nations. The more detailed the data we can use to observe this change, the more skewed the change appears to be… the majority of large gains are indeed at the top of the distribution.”

    In short- the rich have stayed rich or become more rich and the poor have gotten more poor. And until the “vibrational escrow” (that is my due coming to me from the Universe according to The Secret) kicks in and all of the teachings of Abraham are realized in everyone’s life- I’m just not comfortable spending $14.00 on an 8 ounce bottle of organic, paraben free body lotion no matter how damn good it smells.

    Are you?

  3. Heather says:

    Sage, I agree. Stores like Vitamin Cottage, where the prices are routinely much cheaper than the Whole Foods next door, are proof that natural food doesn’t have to be exorbitantly priced. Back when the Boulder Coop was in business, I would find the same goat cheese for $3 or $4 cheaper than it was sold for at Whole Foods—a huge difference.

    But. If you know how to do it, there are definitely ways to navigate Whole Foods without going broke: stay away from Prepared Foods and the Meat Department. Stick to Produce and Bulk (healthier anyway, although more time consuming).

    And for places where the only Natural Grocer option is Whole Foods (too bad they put so many little mom ‘n pops out of business), I think it’s great that people are learning to think of natural food as a necessity, not a luxury. And by eating food that’s not packed with chemicals and preservatives, those of us who can’t afford health insurance might save some money in the long run.

  4. […] from outside interests. Here at elephant we can say whatever we like—Whole Foods is for hippie yuppies, Sounds True’s graphics are kinda spiritually-materialistic, Izze sucks for selling to Pepsi, […]

  5. […] and quiz them about your business ideas.  You missed the industry’s heavy hitters: Whole Foods‘ Hass Hassan, Izze’s Todd Woloson, Alfalfa’s Market founder Liz Myslik and Buddy […]

  6. […] can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard jokingly refer to Whole Foods as “Whole Paycheck.” While that joke is no longer funny (things get old, even if they’re true), Whole […]

  7. John says:

    Never step foot in the place nowadays. I honestly suspect there is some bad energy associated with buying your food someplace so huge. Everything “Whole Foods” brand I have ever tried has made me ill, and their salad bar leaves me feeling rotten 9 times out of 10. Could all just be my imagination though.

    I’m sold on the Vitamin cottage now. 100% organic produce. Better prices, seems a more conscious crowd, and a warmer and fuzzier feeling for me.

    Just my 2 cents…

  8. […] and keep chemicals out of your tummy—but can’t afford to spend your whole paycheck at Whole Foods? That’s the pitch that the new Sunflower Farmers Markets grocery chain is making—right at […]

  9. BJ says:

    Ok, while I agree with the previous posters I do have to comment on who they are comparing Whole Foods to. First, Trader Joe's makes over 50% of its profits from alcohol sales. They have no stores in places that prohibit sales of alcohol in grocery stores (i.e. Colorado) and often carry far fewer products which are sourced from all over the world. Additionally, the size of their stores significantly reduces their overhead (less land/build/rent costs, fewer employees, etc.) compared to even regular supermarkets. As far as the comparison to ShopRite…are you serious? With the exception of some local coops or farmer's markets the only chain close in comparison was Wild Oats, which Whole Foods acquired with the assistance of some underhanded tactics by its CEO (google 'harobed', John Mackey, and Whole Foods together).

    That said, Mackey, along with his philosophical brethren (you know who you are) are simply post-post-modern con artists. They redefine anything they come into contact with, be it spirituality, capitalism, democracy, art, etc. by repackaging them in scholarly terms stolen from people who are way brighter and more creative than they could ever hope to be. Then they brand it under some generic term, ram it down peoples' throats, then sit back as unsuspecting people buy up everything associated with their world. The organic movement is more about how the new wealthy class distinguishes itself from everyone else. Even if you emulate them in every aspect of your life – i.e. clothes, food, philosophy, etc. – if you don't have or come from money you are not getting into the party. There's only so much room for insanity in the world.

  10. […] Whole Foods, teetering between everyone’s favorite green company and the Big Green Giant folks (including yours truly) love to criticize, has a unique, generous loan program intended to help small natural products vendors go big. The lastest recipient? Phil’s Fresh: […]

  11. […] the below gentleman’s post, at this point, more than a year into FTC’s hassling of Whole Foods for buying Wild Oats. Let. It. Go, and let’s get back to (triple bottomline) business. I […]

  12. […] go nowhere to go but up—great staff, the green movement is alive and well—it might be pricey but it offers quality that no other big boy grocery does (though, it’s true, I live in […]

  13. […] more and more organics. I posted articles re: how Whole Foods no longer deserved its moniker Whole Paycheck. I gave Mr. Mackey kudos for honesty when he railed against Whole Foods’ own offerings, […]

  14. […] Extremely competitive prices and less packaging on bulk items and many 365 brand […]

  15. They sure haven’t laid off the talking heads on TV who keep bragging about all the great cleanup their doing and that they’ll be there till the job is done. the 100’s of aircraft looking for the oil and the 1000’s of local fishermen going out everyday to clean it up.BP= bastards of propaganda

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  20. keri says:

    rhde is;and ha tj's and we don't allow alcohol sales in grocery stores.

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