February 18, 2013

What do we appreciate about Whole Foods?

Whole Foods gets a lot of flack, and deservedly—but deservedly because they are the Green Giant, the leader in doing things right—treating their employees right, supporting local and organic companies, offering a respite of real food and health in the urban, suburban sprawling jungle. So I thought it high time we say a little thank you.

Here’s a few of the things I dig about Whole Foods, plus my readers’ and friends’ suggestions. What’s yours? Add in comments section below, if so inspired, so we can share your two cents.

Unlike most, we aren’t trying to get Whole Food’s sponsorship or advertising dollars—so you can trust us for honesty. After all I’ve been featured on the front page of Huff Post a few times for calling out John Mackey, WFM’s founder, and doing so respectfully (I also was featured on Huff Post, and NY Times etc defending WFM against calls for a boycott). In any case, we look at both sides—fairly, and with intention. So: for a few things we don’t love, click here.

What’s something you appreciate about Whole Foods?

Valerie: That they let you sample a product for free before you commit a lot of money to buying it. They just slap a FREE sticker over the bar code and you get to try it out before spending big bucks. All you have to do is ask!

Cory: ? I can’t think of two…

Tom Frascone Libertarianism

Waylon Lewis Tom, say more!

Ilona: Way too expensive and the owner is ghastly, but you can get organic foods there.

Lisa: I will say it’s clean. I went to one in Encinitas, CA that felt like an ashram LOL.


Great selection of coffees and teas, and sometimes hot guys shop there.


Variety, quality, energized staff (at my brand new Whole Foods!), both “naughty” and “nice” food choices (though that can be problematic…), big open spacious store, very clean and fresh in all areas

Waylon Lewis:
The one I’m sitting in [Richmond, Virginia] donates 5% to local non-profits,
is hosting a Honeybee Sanctuary fundraiser (!),
hosts a big gorgeous community garden amidst these suburbs,
has fair-trade organic coffee,
supports local businesses with low-interest loans,
works to eliminate unnecessary packaging (though there’s still way too much going on, esp in to-go areas),
the construction is greenish,
they host landfill/compost/recycle…

Darrin: The bathroom sinks and the roasted brussel sprouts. Not in that order.

Trish: I appreciate :

Variety, commitment , customer service, cleanliness , awesome food bars, the cookie bar, cooking school, education opportunities


Nice Waylon! Forgot to mention that my local WF offers very inexpensive cooking and food education classes. And they try to keep it interesting in the store with product tastings, specials, “live” cooking, etc. Has a bit of a party atmosphere, which is fun sometimes. I love my privately owned “natural food” store, Abby’s, too. The owner is great and they’ve been in my neighborhood for decades. They have more of a low-key farmer’s market vibe, which is cool, too.

Cory: yoga pants x 10.

Waylon Lewis:
Tons of vegan stuff.
Free wifi, clean bathrooms
employees are crazy helpful.

Kelsey: as a vendor, they aren’t supportive in the least. I could talk to you for hours about this.

Waylon Lewis Kelsey, message me if you like. I’ve written a recent fair criticism, and a few front pagers on Huff Post re Mackey over the years–I respect him in many ways, and admire him in many ways, and am aghast as him once a year)…so I figure it’s time to show some love. Not making perfect the enemy of very, very, very good.

Waylon Lewis There you go, Cory, you came up with one!

Cory: No.. That’s ten.

Chad: yeah the bathrooms are really clean …

Megan of Eco Divas:

bulk food aisle

Waylon Lewis Joshua: you got some? Bulk food / packaging tips or things you appreciate?

Joshua: I like John Mackey and their oatmeal bar.

Waylon Lewis that was unhelpful

Joshua: Do you need help?


In Ithaca, NY, we have GreenStar Coop, no Whole Foods.

Amanda: in Boston, there are free cooking classes, and food education classes, i believe at least 2x/week. superior bakery in my area.


“Let me just sample that jar of coconut oil for you.”

Erica: Selection and variety – although I do the bulk of my shopping at Vitamin Cottage (to support them and because you can’t beat their prices) there are a few items that I can only find at WF, so I’m ever so thankful they are in town.


The hot boys that work there

Waylon Lewis Josh, I need specifics…I know you’re more thoughtful and educated than just about any I know. I know you’re in business with them, but this is in the positive aisle, so shouldn’t be difficult to be helpful.

Karl Saliter There’s not a GMO in the place. I love that. Same very upbeat employee vibe at Wholefoods at 97th and Columbus. Fast, efficient checkout design, too.


Hmmm… not entirely true… GMOs are definitely in Whole Food’s selection if they aren’t organic or GMO Free certified. That said, for most cities without adequate health food stores, they have a great selection of organic products.

Denise L:

Here is what I appreciate about whole foods: 1) I can do all my grocery shopping at one location, whereas if I go to my local co-op it actually costs me more in time and money and driving 2) at whole foods I’m relatively aware that the presence of artificial colors and flavors is limited to non-existent 3) I like the customer service and return policy 4) I don’t like that they sometimes carry a product at a low price and then eliminate the product entirely in essence forcing one to have to buy a higher priced product.

Tashi King-Robinson Whole Foods generic brand honey-nut Cheerios and Oreos.

Aysia Wright: samples, cheeses, in house less expensive organic options, expansive selection of food and wellness products, animal welfare rating system for meats (if you by meat), huge, delicious prepared foods selection, regular coupons. Might not be 10 things. I like that I can spend less there than shopping most other places or organic.

Tera: chocolate truffles


Hot food bar. Salad bar. Sesame Blues corn chips. Bite-sized chocolate bars in 72%.

Cameron Burgess that they massively increased both supply and demand for healthy, organic and generally ethical food


Earth Balance peanut butter and the employees are always beyond friendly and helpful.

Beth P: The experience. The aesthetic beauty. Andy Zenz’ chalkboard drawings at Ideal Market [Boulder]. The Allegro Coffee. The experience. Brownies just out of the oven. Gourmet food options. The seafood options. The experience.


Good sushi, cheese selection, terra chips, desserts, their produce (especially the hard to find stuff).

Megan: Return policy. I miss buying healthy stuff in bulk too! We need some sort of co op in Guam!

Starre V: It’s the only major supermarket that doesn’t gross me out with nasty chemical smells and plastic-plastic-plastic everywhere.



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