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Whole Foods Overrated? [moved from Manhattan board]

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I realize I may catch alot of heat, but I just find many of their items subpar: I find Garden of Eden, Gourmet Garage much better.

Examples:

Deli: Limited selections. $ 24.00lb sopressata hard ,little taste. Most prepared foods I tried either bland, greasy etc.

Bakery: Bought a Banana Cream pie that was 95% sickenly sweet cream, rock hard crust, fossilized bananas. Threw it in the trash.

Mussel Salad: oily

WF Grated Parm: Tasteless

Quiche, Soups etc: Bland

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  1. I don't know about over rated. I'd certainly say over priced. As you said above, $24/lb for sopressata. That's ridiculous.
    I toured the one here in TO and was appalled by the prices. I do have to say, they don't seem to have a hard time fetching $11/lb for organic ground beef though.

    Somewhere PT Barnum is smiling.

    DT

    1. I don't generally shop at Whole Foods for prepared items or meat (except for things like chicken or turkey sausage). Mainly because it is way overpriced for what it is.

      What I do buy there are cheeses (although I've not tried the grated parm), some produce and some 365 Brand products like their low sodium chicken broth, jarred marinara (for easy on the go meals), frozen veggies and some local items like Justin's Nut Butters.

      1 Reply
      1. re: RobynS

        DocTed,

        Only stopped in once, at the Union Square location in Manhattan. We immediately went to the fish department, and to our huge disappointment many of the fish files looked anything but fresh, especially some of the salmon. (How many times had it been frozen? ...I just wonder...)

        I know fish, so all I have to do is to take a look at it, or a sniff. But some people test the freshness by poking the fish filé with their finger, and if the flesh bounces back immediately, you know the filé is fresh. Well, if I had been allowed to do that, the flesh would not only not have bounced back, but my finger would have pierced trough it. Yikes.

        It was on a Saturday, but still, after all the hoopla about "quality" this and "quality" that and talk about really "fresh" fish, etc., we were disappointed.

        And yes, while most of the vegetables and fruits looked fresh and the selection was good, they were expensive compared to our own local fresh food market.

        So, there is a lot of room for improvement there. Right now it sounds like the critique by the old Whole Food fans is well grounded.

      2. Overrated, Overpriced, and I'm Over It. Give me a Trader Joe's or local niche joint any time. It's absolutely not worth doubling my grocery bill.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mojoeater

          I agree with the idea that its prices just dont match the quality. I feel ripped off...I dont mind paying the price if it delivers, but I feel very disappointed as well as fleeced for my $$$..

          1. re: mojoeater

            There's a reason why it's nick name is Whole Paycheque.

            DT

            1. re: Davwud

              That's what I thought, until Bristol Farms moved in just down the street from WF.

          2. overrated, and overpriced. As well as overhyped by the people who actually do shop there.

            7 Replies
            1. re: swsidejim

              I like some of their products and make a monthly trip to pick them up, but I agree that doing all one's grocery shopping there is very expensive. I like:

              365 Brand Italian Sparkling Mineral Water (89 cents a bottle)
              365 Brand Canola Mayonnaise
              365 Brand Olive Oil
              I find that prices on dairy items are surprisingly reasonable and often stock up on butter there.
              I like their natural peanut butter as well, and their meat - one of the few places I can buy boneless chicken thighs.

              1. re: MMRuth

                I have only been in Whole Foods mabe 5 or 6 times, mostly just to look around, although I purchased a couple of avocados, and some garlic on one of my visits.

                The produce looks nice, but is overpriced compared to where I buy mine, and the meat counter is ridiculously overpriced, even compared to the expensive local butcher I go to for my prime beef(at least at my butcher I get top notch service, and know who my money is going to).

                People are free to buy where they like, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and places like that are not for me. But then again I probably do not fit into the demographic they market towards.

                1. re: swsidejim

                  But does your local butcher haev organic meat ? Yes, the meat at WholeFoods is expansive but there are often very limited other options to buy organic meat.

                  1. re: honkman

                    That's the same issue I have - no other reasonable access to organic meat.

                    1. re: honkman

                      as I mentioned I am probably not the type of person WF markets to, I am not interested in organic meat, etc. But I know if I asked my butcher to get me organic meat he could get it. I am just not interested in that lifestyle.

                      My butcher is top notch, locally owned, and has the best prime beef around. Also they are professional butchers whose family have been cutting meat since the 1860's. WF cant make the same claim.

                      for those who like WF, enjoy, its just not a place I shop.

                      1. re: swsidejim

                        We've removed a number of off topic posts and personal attacks from this thread. You're welcome to share your opinions about Whole Foods, but larger issues of consumerism are off topic for our site--especially when the comments get personal and directed at other hounds.

                  2. re: MMRuth

                    I love the 365 brand, though not the sauces. mac+cheese, other pasta, canned tomatoes, cereal, frozen veggies, frozen kids waffles, and my favorite cookies Used to be the B+W oreo things but they changed the recipe and the new version is not as good :(
                    I wrote them an email about it but never got a response.

                2. I'm a big fan of its 365 brand too. I buy a lot of items under that brand from olive oil to olives to chicken broth to cerdal to beans, canned salmon, pasta, etc.. I find that some of the prices are actually less expensive than my local supermarket. I also like purchasing cliantro and parsley from there. For some reason, they last longer than other places I buy from. I stay away from the seafood b/c of what I've seen, read and heard and, in general, I don't buy their prepared food b/c I don't find them particularly tasty. IMO, depending on what you buy, WF is not that expensive.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: gloriousfood

                    Tried their seafood once, ugh. The meat & poultry, though, has some choices I like. Organic produce, yes, but watch what they charge you at checkout. I like artisanal whole wheat bread, but theirs...no. Some whole wheat pastas, yes. Agree many 365 products are reliable, and dairy products.
                    I have learned to pick & choose (& watch the tape register to see what I'm being charged--beware).

                    1. re: Babette

                      I've only bought mineral water and some bulk foods there. For some reason, WF has the best price for Gerolsteiner water, and their bulk popcorn is reasonably priced and better than most. A few unusual grains and beans in the bulk area also seem reasonable. However, a few times I needed something specific (ie. chocolate syrup) and the only choices available were OUTRAGEOUSLY overpriced (about 5x the generic brand at a regular supermarket).

                      1. re: justin_mjn

                        I think the 365 brands are really a good value...and if you have the do-re-mi, the fish counters are usually outstanding (and out here in the SW are usually a bit less than the "other" gourmet stores AND the hyper-noted fish store.

                  2. Whole Foods is great for their selection of items you can find under one roof that you might otherwise have to visit 3-4 different stores/farmer's markets to find. Their cheese selection is what keeps me going back there, and the Whole Foods here also has a really good selection of local artisanal bread and coffee. The prepared foods are terribly overpriced and I've yet to find one that has me buying it a second time. The produce selection is always strong as well. Some things you can find better at other places (i.e. butcher shop, farmer's market), but it's a huge improvement over a regular supermarket, and also Trader Joe's (a lot of the produce at the nearby Trader Joe's is pre-packaged/bagged...just not very good.)

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Bunson

                      My main problem with Whole Foods is that I worry about the freshness of the prepared foods. There is simply too much available, in such vast quantities, for it to turn over quickly enough. I've found myself combing through containers of fruit salads to find some that are freshly packaged. More than once, I've found containers with the previous day's expiration date. I don't trust the cleanliness of the hot bar and the salad bar, either. I will buy their sushi on occasion, but I would much rather shop from local butchers, fishmongers and produce markets.

                      1. re: brendastarlet

                        I think the quality definitely varies from branch to branch...and hence depends a lot on the local supply chains for the organic stuff. I've also yet to find one that is as good as their flagship HQ store in Austin, TX. Awesome range of produce.

                        Personally, I don't rate their seafood that highly (just ok) but their butcher meat and poultry is usually pretty good although expensive. I'm not blown away on their fruit and veg either and I have noticed that the levels of produce that are actually "organic" seem to be dwindling...

                        In NYC, I went with Citarella for seafood everytime...and Balduccis for prepared food and fruit and veg...however I do think they are well ahead of trader joes...don't understand the hype with that store...

                        1. re: Scotty100

                          Whole Foods is planning on opening their largest store in the US just down the street from where I'm at -

                          http://www.almadentimes.com/012507/ex...

                          My expectations are pretty high, I hope it's as good as the one in Austin.

                          1. re: Scotty100

                            The downtown Washington DC branch has exhibited a marked decline in quality in the past 18 months. I wager much of it has to do with the high turnover rate for service industry workers in DC, but the quality of some of the "fresh" vegetables and meats has been sub-par.

                            The local Balduccis has cut back on the variety of beers and wines, to the point that it's more cost-effective to go to any other local chain grocery.