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Whole Foods Market, Toronto.

m
Middydd May 1, 2002 02:49 PM

Anybody been to Whole Foods Market in Toronto yet? Any comments on prices, selection, parking, service etc.?

Curious, Middydd.

  1. j
    jonburk May 1, 2002 05:48 PM

    I work at Whole Foods so my opinion might be biased...
    It is a pretty amazing store - there is stuff for both the foodie (probably mostly this category)and the chowhound. I work in the produce department where about 60% is organic. The cheese department has 350 varieties. The Whole Foods Market brand (365) has some excellent products - Cook's Illustrated ranked their Balsamic Vinegar best in their taste testing of supermarket balsamics.

    I am not really intending to advertise for my employer - rather I am raving as an excited shopper. Come check it out :)

    Jonathan

    3 Replies
    1. re: jonburk
      j
      John May 1, 2002 06:18 PM

      I am not too interested in patronizing this establishment, as excellent as many of its offerings may be, since it rather self-consciously announced "No diet sodas sold here," in line with its "natural foods" policy.

      I go to a market to buy what I want. Millions of us hheavy-set (and probably our lean friends, tooO Canadians and Americans are grateful for diet sodas as a removal of the otherwise-strong temptation to indulge in sugar-heavy regular soda, and we have come to like its astringent taste which offsets very well a variety of foods.

      If the politically correct BS of the thought police want to be a nanny to the gullible Toronto public, fine - but they will not have my business. There are lots of places where I can buy a variety of fresh and organic foods (eg, Pusateri's and the Five Thieves) and still buy my Diet Coke. I don't want my grocer lecturing me on what I should or should not buy ! Get my point ?!?

      1. re: John
        j
        jon burk May 2, 2002 04:15 PM

        Unfortunately, you will not be able to buy any President's Choice diet cola at Whole Foods :)

        I don't think "thought police" is totally fair - Whole Foods is not trying to dictate what people should think (or buy) but simply making choices about what products to sell, choices consistent with their quality standards. And if one can buy a diet soda at Pusatari's or any supermarket (not to mention Walmart and a corner store near you) why does Whole Foods also need to carry it? They can't be everything to everyone.

        But I do wish they carried gum with aspartame... :)

        1. re: jon burk
          m
          Marc Bernstein May 3, 2002 01:03 AM

          I went back to Whole Foods Market tonight. I must say,after the big push,that as a diabetic and gourmet,I feel less than 60 per cent satisfied by Whole Foods. There are no diabetic products(sugar-free) at all. Natural products yes,but even there they are too restrictive. And their prices are very high. Due to a power shortage,there were little prepared foods. Oh,I will be back,but the organization problems,and the store's lack (or disinterest?) in getting products for diabetics,or the food lover,(the muffins are not that great) I wish they would get in "Tasty-Kakes". There is no sugar-reduced,or sugar free(even fruit juice sweetened products) Is Pusateries better? In certain ways yes. By excluding diabetics (who can't eat sugar-the staff are not informed at all) I do like the store,location. Certain products,but I will continue to shop at Loblaws,etc. Anyone on the chat been to Sebastions,in London? I think Sebastions is far better.

    2. m
      Marc Bernstein May 2, 2002 01:08 AM

      I went to Whole Foods today. Rather confusing,but most delightful. I like Pusateries too,but I think I do prefer Whole Foods. The prepared food is nothing short of astonishing,in the wide range and superb quality. It will take a number of visits to find one's way around. They offer many products,plus diet drinks too. (Diet Snapple,though I hope they'll expand the sugar-free selection in time.) It does need some organization. Hopefully,they'll expand their gourmet cakes and crackers,etc. (Tasty-Kakes) It is an expansive,user-friendly place. I will be going back there-often.

      1. m
        mikeb May 3, 2002 01:26 PM

        It's good to hear that Whole Foods has made the trek north. From my own experiences in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have found it be a quality chain. That said, would somebody please get Loblaws to return the favour and start opening up stores south of the border, preferably in California and as soon as possible.

        4 Replies
        1. re: mikeb
          m
          middydd May 4, 2002 12:54 AM

          Why?

          1. re: middydd
            m
            mikeb May 4, 2002 03:22 PM

            Why is Whole Foods a quality chain? Or why should Loblaws move south?

            I'll answer the latter first. I think that Loblaws should move to California, specifically the San Francisco Bay Area, because that's where I presently live. As far as large grocery chans go, Loblaws really is one of the best in the world. Compared to the two titans of California, Albertsons and Safeway, there is no contest. My experiences at Loblaws may be coloured by the fact that I lived near two good stores. One in the Annex, near the Christie and Dupont store and before that near the one at Hog's Hollow (Yonge, between Lawrence & York Mills).

            Loblaws has a better bakery. It is not easy to find a half decent roll in a chain here. The produce in Safeway or Albertsons does not have the variety or quality of Loblaws. This really shocked me considering that California is the primary agricultural state in the US. The selection of cheese in the large chains here is also sorely lacking. Loblaws is nice place to go because you can get good quality stuff at decent prices and you can find many specialty items. Pusiteri's was mentioned in this thread--Pusi's excels in the latter but is lacking in the former. And then there is the PC brand. Nothing matches it, anywhere.

            So this leads to the former question. Why do I recommend Whole Foods as a quality grocery store? Mostly because here in California, Whole Foods, Andronicos (a small Bay Area chain) and few smaller grocery stores, make up for a lot of the stuff that I consider lacking in the larger chains as outlined above. Good butchers and bakers exist there. Whole Foods' real forte is that they have very good produce in variety, quality and, for those who want it, lots of organic produce. Plus they have a lot of speciaty items that aren't found in "regular" California grocery stores. The first time I went into Whole Foods here I was happy to find a sophisticated cheese selection in a grocery store--something that I hadn't seen since leaving Toronto.

            I'm interested to see how Whole Foods does in Toronto. I'm of the opinion that it's facing a much more formidable competition than it has faced here in the Bay Area. Of course, it has excelled in other markets as well, so I expect that they'll find their niche.

            Please let me know what you think after you've visited it.

            1. re: mikeb
              m
              middydd May 4, 2002 04:21 PM

              Thanks for your reply, I've always thought the Loblaw's chains to be exceptional both in quality and selection. Agree that the quality of President's Choice products is excellent.

              Looking forward to visiting Whole Foods. Maybe next week.

              1. re: mikeb
                l
                Lone Diner May 22, 2002 07:18 PM

                Perhaps, then, Whole Foods will try and push the "Organic" side of their products in this region, since the "great selection" angle faces steeper competition here ?

          2. c
            Chili May 4, 2002 09:32 PM

            I just went to Whole Foods on Friday. I was quite impressed and I am really glad to have such a store in my neighbourhood. I don't think there is any other place in the Bay/Bloor area that has fresh seafood. Their selection of seafood, incl. live lobster, is great. As well, to test their meat department I purchased a large, dry-aged rib steak. It was my first time using USDA Choice and, I have to admit, it was at least as good as my usual favourite (Cumbrae's)..probably even slightly better. However, it did cost about 40% more! I found it rather odd that their rib steak was so much more expensive than Cumbrae's, but all their other cuts of beef/lamb/veal were roughly the same price (as Cumbrae's).
            I will certainly be returning and I eagerly await the opportunity to test the quality of their seafood...

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