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RANT - Thumbs Down for Whole Foods

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
A few days ago, while at Whole Foods, I noticed a couple of "errors" in the fish case, The store labels the fish with the country of origin. The sign by some tilapia said the fish was from Ecuador. However, I saw the counter person taking them out of the box which said the fish was from Chile. They also had "Dover sole" from the US.

A few months ago they were selling pre roasted "organic" chicken. I looked carefully at the birds and realized they were not as described. They were from a poultry processor that markets both organic and regular chix. The ones Whole Food was selling were the non-organic ones. I contacted the manager and expressed my displeasure. The sign was quickly changed.

Another time they were selling "locally grown organic tomatoes." Checking the product I found that neither parameter was correct, and again complained to the store managment.

I'm getting tired of these "errors." They happen all to frequently.

I'm finding similar "mistakes" at other stores as well. Feh!

Shel
post #2 of 21
Shell, as unfortunate as it sounds, many stores have items showcased not as described, its a shame, but thats why you have to have your eyes open wide..... ALWAYS
post #3 of 21
yep...I've gotten home/to a client's house/to my kitchen with bad fish....quit buying chicken from whole foods years ago, was personal cheffing and ended up with BAD chicken 3x, from the case as well as the butcher...opened the last chicken at the register and it RECKED.....really BAD. enough, if it's so bad you can smell it what about the chicken you can't quite smell yet?

Fish, I occasionally pick up fish at WF, but insist on smelling prior to packaging and get ice to keep it cold no matter the time of year.

WF is a riot here, they've got a medium size tomato farmer who is about as conventional as you can get raising food for them.....and he's spoken to groups at the store. HUH? ok....whatever.

I've gotten ill off the pizza....hugging the toliet ill.....chicken/pesto pizza consumed 15 minutes prior to the store closing and not brought up to temp.

I'll also not buy from the deli case.....olive pits in tuna salad, etc, but mainly disappointing for the cost.

But WF has a phenominal cheese area, great bread and freshly roasted Ethiopean Yergochef (?) coffee.....:)
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #4 of 21
Absolutely agreed! "Organic" and "From clean environment" labeling made those guys' cheese sliding down the cracker completely. This whole business starts looking like overblown air balloon. Pretty soon we'll see "Organically grown cognac from certified rainforest" that "beats" Louis XIII by price.
And it's not the worst scenario getting flounder marked as "dover sole". In our Whole Foods, watch fish department trying to push older fish for chosen if you turn around.

C
WE ARE NOT SELLING FOOD...WE ARE IMPROVING OUR CLIENT'S LIFESTYLE - HIS LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO EAT SOMETHING HE DOESN'T LIKE
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WE ARE NOT SELLING FOOD...WE ARE IMPROVING OUR CLIENT'S LIFESTYLE - HIS LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO EAT SOMETHING HE DOESN'T LIKE
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post #5 of 21
Hey Gang, it doesn't matter where ya shop, be it from a vendor or a local mom and pop, the grocery business is as shadey if not more than just about anything out there... take construction for example! It's always been a buyer beware scenario no matter who or whom you deal with. Reputable is almost an illusion and while they are preaching wholesome, upstanding, ethical beliefs there's alway someone there that's trying to slip you a mickey while you're not looking. Doesn't matter who it is. WF, TJ's, Kroger, Ukrops etc, etc, etc. The store is only as good as the people that manage it no matter what you think. I know we all wanna believe differently but.... Why is this a surprise?
post #6 of 21
I really don't want to hijack thread, but I do not want to start a new thread to ask this question, so here it goes... Oldschool, I see that you are from Virginia, have you ever been too, or heard of the Greenbrier in WV?
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
The WF I visit has a dinky little case for their cheese selections, and a rather limited selection. The cheese people are friendly and seem to be knowledgeable about the products they carry. However, there are several far, far better places to get cheese in the area.

Bread? Rarely buy bread in a market like WF - too many good artisan bakers around here. LIkewise for coffee - lots of other choices, fresher too.

I'm buying less and less at WF - maybe about six or eight products on any sort of regular basis, sometimes some produce if I'm in a jam or want the convenience. They have the best price/quality of three/four types of dried chile peppers: chipotle, de Arbol, ancho, pasilla.

I do enjoy wandering through the store and grabbing as much as possible of their free samples. Makes up somewhat for their price$. Last week, when I was doing my baked potato test, I stopped into WF to grab a couple of nice sized russets. The price, @ $2.00/lb, put me off. How about $2.59 for a single, medium-sized avocado.

End of kvetching for now ...

Shel
post #8 of 21
One of the local Cub foodstores was caught selling reg. beef as "Black Angus".

Many of the major grocers have "Sale price stickers" on items on the shelf, but my wife catches them all the time when you check out they charge the "Non-sales price".

She's been charged many times for more of an item than she actually bought.

The Pure and Natural store sold us an "Organic chuck" piece that weighted 16lbs, and I couldn't grind up any of it because it was thoroughly riddled with gristle and tendon. They wouldn't give me my money back either. SO we stopped buying their meat.

The Byerly's used to have bags of frozen shrimp that always cooked up fresh and sweet smelling. Now they've stopped selling them and want you to buy out of the counter display. These are "thawed" shrimp. They've chucked a few of those in sometimes in the past, and they cook up translucent and stinky, like washed up on shore dead fish.

The list goes on and on.

And as far as "organic", the rain still captures pollution out of the air, and carries it down on "organic" and "Non-organic" farms equally.

The plants soak up this polluted water, and the cows eat the polluted grass, so I wonder what, if any, the benefit of paying up to 3x the cost for organic, when 1) You don't even know if it truly is organic because of the store labeling issues, and 2) Unless they grow the stuff inside with air filters and water filters and no pesticides, etc. would the food be truly "organic" and "toxin free".

Ok, i gotta go back to work!

doc
post #9 of 21
Shel, WF is one of the best cheese & bakery sources in STL....the cheese case is really big. I'm trying to remember Muarry's in NYC and think that may be about the same amount of product. SF....Cowgirl creamery Ferry Plaza....just off the top of my head I'd say WF here has a bigger selection.
Cheese people here know their shtuff backwards and forwards....and aren't afraid to sample cheeses :)

And as to bakeries, we've had this discussion.....SF and artisan bakeries rule.

Chocolateers...hmmm well we've got an exceptional one here that is in startup and makes some of the most creative truffles....tiny little truffles that are perfectly shaped rectangles....her choc caramels are extrodinary. But you have Dr. Lang at Ferry Plaza. ok...WF has some chocolate selections that are interesting....but I buy bulk wholesale. or tiny little pieces from Heather.


Labeling....been through this a million times with the farmer's markets...organic is a federal certification, you pay/keep records/get inspected.....sustainable is nebulous....some small farmers are conventional, some raise above organic standards, some have a closed circle farm, some raise their animals humanely (on grass with no antibiotics/hormones) but they don't feed them with organic grains....some farms have flooded, raising "organically" but gosh the river rose and their land had 3" of water from all over......or the neighbor that sprays and there's winddrift.....or the farmer that trully doesn't understand symbiotic closed farm and jumps on the bandwagon saying their shtuff is sustainable.
*Food writers that are gung ho and just haven't done their homework nor have known what questions to ask, many times prepetuate false stories or throw out labels that are really off the mark.

I can't tell you the song and dance we got when Whole Foods, Wolfgang Puck, a couple of others came to town wanting to buy from local farmers.....
just didn't put in the effort to make it happen.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Cowgirl @ Ferry isn't very large and their selection is limited compared to the Cheeseboard Collective in Berkeley, but they do have some very nice sheese selections.


Good to hear about the startup. Hope it works out. I'm not a big fan of chocolate - rather, not too knowledgeable about who makes what - but there are several (two? three? four?) shops @ Ferry. A friend is amazingly familiar with the chocalate producers, and when she comes in from Kansas, she grabs ne and we spend hours making the rounds. We're pretty lucky - lots of local chocolate producers.

Shel
post #11 of 21
but cheese is just one part of the store here.....

some chocolate at FP has to much tomato soup in it for my taste. :)
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #12 of 21
Yeah, Whole Foods meats/seafood isn't that great and a touch shady. I asked the guy if the beef was grass fed and he said "grass finished." Now wth does that mean?
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Yep, seems you got a good cheese section @ WF in STL

Tomato soup - <LOL>

My biggest complaint (which really isn't that big) with Ferry is that a number of the smaller producers just don't have a presence at the market, which, while understandable, puts a lot of great stores, shops, producers, and product "under the radar" for many people. Example: many people rave about Frog Hollow Farm's stone fruits (and they are good), but if you hit the farmers markets you'll find many more, probably smaller, producers with not only a wider range of product, but some with better quality and often with lower prices. Frog Hollw sells at these markets as well - last time they had one type of peach and one nectarine choice, and a fair amount of fruit that wasn't quite ripe. Across the aisle there was one farm with something like six or eight types of peaches, two nectarine types, and more that was ready-to-eat ripe. Unfortunately, it costs a few buck$ to have representation at FP, and maybe some connections as well. I still like the place though :smiles:

Shel
post #14 of 21
"*Food writers that are gung ho and just haven't done their homework nor have known what questions to ask, many times prepetuate false stories or throw out labels that are really off the mark."

Lawdy, lawd, ain't that the truth.

My favorite: The recent article about Gypsy peppers that, in the same paragraph, identified them as being heirlooms and hybrids. Say huh?

But it's the same, unfortunately, in every field. Too many writers with no journalistic training, or too lazy to do their research. And far, far too many who belong to the Dan Rather school of reporting.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #15 of 21
That means you don't know what they raised the beef on, but when they took it into the barn for 1-2 months, they fed it grass and then on it went to the butcher.

doc
post #16 of 21

if this matters to you -

I'm told that WF is fiercely anti-union & that in general their labor policies rank up there with Walmart.

There isn't one in my neighborhood (WF or WM), so it isn't really an issue for me, but... I wouldn't go there if they were.
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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post #17 of 21
WF's treats their employees quite well. It seems quite democratic in its day to day operations. For example, in order to be hired, you have to be voted in by other members of the department. The fish guy in our WF's does about $10-11 plus a percentage of sales. They start off doing weekdays only. The strongest staff members do weekends.
post #18 of 21
I have had the same experience at Whole Foods, but not with meat (I'm vegetarian). I got a discount on mislabeled chocolate. :) I've also found lots of expired dairy and such lately. :(
post #19 of 21
I was in WF in Montclair NJ back in July and it will be the last time I go there. As I cruised the aisles for foods that I thought were doing the environment some good by being grown with specific conditions I noticed that about half of the items on the shelves were not organic or any of those other labels but in fact, the very same items you would find in ShopRite but at TWICE the price. They mixed "normal" food items in with "specialty" items and charged more for the normal items. Ticked off that they had the nerve to try charge me double for plain old table water crackers and were hoping i would pick up a regular item by accident and think it was organic, I gave up on my shopping list, bought some organic honey and left.

I heard a bigger and better WF opened in nearby West Orange, NJ. I have not been there yet. Will agree on the WF cheese counter, not bad, Murray's in NYC is still tops (and, duh, more expensive).

Reading that so many people have found the meat and poultry to be other than was labeled is really disappointing to me. I wanted to think the animals actually LIVED normal, old fashioned animal lives before they made it to my table. :( I opened a package of chicken legs from WF once to find a leg that was broken, the bone cracked and hanging there. I hope that was from handling/packaging and nothing else...

Feels like there is very little that can be relied on...
-Christina

Less is more
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-Christina

Less is more
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post #20 of 21
If it makes you feel any better, Emeril, I know some people who produce meat for Whole Foods and the animals do live decent lives. Lots of space to romp etc. I try not to think about where they'll end up because they seem so happy with life.
post #21 of 21

Whole wallet

I was happy when Whole Foods opened in my market (Birmingham, AL)... but then I realized that the only thing I wanted to buy from them was produce.

The prices are very high. And the fish and meat is not of the highest quality. Our gourmet groceries here in Alabama have far finer meats and fish... and they are typically from closer.

N
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