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What, if anything, do you buy at Whole Foods?

I've never been a big Whole Foods shopper. But they're opening a new store a block from my building. It'll be by far my closest grocery store. So I'll shop there at least occasionally. What do you think I should look for? What is not too overpriced? What about the meat and fish? Is the quality consistent?

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  1. The produce is good in the off season when you can't buy from roadside stands and farmers markets, and the fresh sausage selection is pretty good for a mass market grocery. I was not impressed with their 356 line and their breads are nothing to get excited about.

    Ive been to 3 Whole Paychecks and I tend to leave less them impressed.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Kelli2006

      Just a heads-up, breads vary greatly from store to store. My local WF does carry my favorite local bakery bread, which is considered one of the best breads in the area...but I wouldn't eat what they produce in-store.

      I go for produce, cheese, organic diary that is difficult to find in regular stores, and Frans Chocolate sauce.

      I don't care for their pork or beef products. Although green, the price is high and the flavor is only ok. There are better places to go. I'll also pass on their prepared foods. It's just too expensive for what it is...and it's always bland.

    2. I really dislike Whole Foods, but occasionally force myself to go there for a fresh avocado, or some other vegetable I am having trouble finding.

      Their meats/seafood are so overpriced & not near the quality I require, I would never consider purchasing them @ Whole Foods. I am lucky to have better & cheaper sources for Meat and Seafood nearby.

      1. Wise kosher/organic whole chickens! They are tender and sweet tasting. I absolutely love them and save the bones and some fat for soup. When making broth, there is little to skim the bird is so clean.

        It's best to get the whole chickens. There is not enough value/cost to justify getting the chicken breasts or thighs.

        The 365 organic milk is a good price. Same as Trader Joe's here in the Boston area.

        You're not going to find the supreme artisan bread but the store brand scali is pretty good. The garlic/herb bread is also good but too pricey at $4/loaf.

        We've had very tasty cakes and other pastries. They don't have the fake-tasting frosting and are generous with the fruit in fruit tarts/strawberry shortcake. When they are on sale, I buy the bakery choc chip cookies. They really do taste like homemade.

        I find the prepared foods to not be worth the cost. At $8/lb for the salad and hot food bars, nothing is worth the cost to me. It's salad! And the hot foods are typically overcooked and pepper is the main seasoning -- again, in the Boston area. It could be different where you are.

        1. I like their dry goods in the bins. They have steelcut outmeal, popcorn, all kinds of dry beans etc. They also have spices that you can measure out which is nice for things you only want a little bit of.

          1. Its pricier, so unless you perceive them to be "greener" and that matters to you, you don't need to go there a lot..

            I get some produce - they usually have fresh stuff that's harder to find in traditional stores - shiitake mushrooms, fiddleheads, golden beets.. I know I can find it in Whole foods when I am unsure about other stores having it.

            I like their 365 line for things like olive oil.

            Meat and fish is good, but expensive.. I tend to prefer local farmstands and seafood shops. Shrimp I buy frozen at Costco...

            1. I like their prepared foods, food/salad bar, etc. Other than that, it's no different than Earthfare, Fresh Market, etc.

              1. At my local WF, King Arthur flour, all types, are less expensive than other stores around (Trader Joe's, Shoppers Food Warehouse, Giant, Safeway) so don't automatically assume it'll be more because I did for the longest time. They also carry local milk in glass bottles which I can't get elsewhere and identify locally grown products. It really depends on the WF, though, and ones where there is competition seem to be better. What it comes down to is if you have great small stores that carry good coffee, produce, etc., WF won't be worth the trip but if you live in the suburbs w/out much choice, it works.

                1 Reply
                1. re: chowser

                  That's useful information about the King Arthur Flour. I will look for it. I often do Internet orders and pay for shipping.

                2. I get fruits and veggies there when it's not farmer's market season. I find the quality is much better than other stores plus i like that they actually tell you the country of origin and their organic produce isn't flabby and shriveled up like it is in other stores. Also, they roast coffee beans in store, so it's nice to buy those in buik.

                  Their cheese, eggs and yogurt are much better quality (more choices) than other stores.
                  I appreciate that I can get shampoos, soap, etc there as well which is better to use for people with allergies.
                  While not a perfect place, I am very glad I have the option of going there where I live.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: poptart

                    I know you posted a while ago but I wanted to let you know I found the same shampoos, etc. that i once bought at WF at www.vitacost.com and www.swansonvitamins.com for so much less than WF. I was even able to buy my gluten free flours at a significant discount at those 2 sites but WF fruits and veggies can't be beat. So good

                    Ps: I always google: coupon codes for every site I buy from online and almost always get free shipping or at least 10% off. Work hard=save hard, right.


                  2. I buy produce -- both in the off season and to supplement the farmer's market. The specialty cheese selection is much better than the local Safeway. Ditto grains and dried goods in the bins -- rices, beans, etc are a better selection and I can buy what I need. I also buy oil and vinegar, canned soups and beans (both $.50-1.00 cheaper @ WF), rice paper, shelf-stable tofu (cheaper), Vermont Co. bread (cheaper), pita bread, and a few microwave meals.

                    Safeway's prices are better for deodorant (same brand), big blocks of cheese, king arthur flour (not as many types), rice/soy milk, sour cream, broth, pasta, cleaning products, tp and kleenex.

                    Eggs and milk vary -- sometimes WF will be cheaper, then Safeway. I don't price shop those unless we're making a lot of ice cream.

                    1. The two-bite macaroons and double chocolate cookies. Mmm mmm. They've got a pretty good selection of cheeses too - I like the basket of little samples; it's a good way to try a small, relatively cheap piece of an expensive cheese.

                      1. as what several have said: produce when I can't get it at farm stands. Although the WF in MA frequently mis-label where the produce is from. For example, the sign on a bin of tomatoes will say "Tomatoes...from Florida", while a cheerful produce dept employee smiles whilst stocking the bin with tomatoes from crates that say "produce of mexico"

                        Some of the meats are okay and a good buy when on sale.

                        1. I like their selection of yogurt, since they carry brands that I can't find many other places...Fage Greek Yogurt and my latest favorite Siggy's, their ginger yogurt is great!

                          1. Their breads are quite good.

                            I agree with others comments re: the yogurt selection being a positive and the overpriced produce being a negative. The 365 line is very reasonable and often tasty- I personally love the soy crisps.

                            Dried fruits are usually worthwhile as well.
                            Solid tempeh and soy selection.

                            1. Their cheese selection/quality is quite good. I also like the reasonably-priced "white trout" filets, that I saute with sliced almonds and buter for a simple trout almondine.

                              1. Bulk oats / wheat germ / banana chips for making granola.

                                Bulk falafel mix

                                Bulk granola (when it's on sale)

                                They have a brand of baba ghannouj that does not have chick peas in it. ( a lot of store brands use it for filler - check the labels) anyway, WF has a decent one in the fridge case.

                                Mini Pitas

                                Their canned California black olives are generally the only ones I will eat. Not WF brand, but it's a brand they carry. Lower sodium. Excellent. Forgot the brand name, but if you look on the shelf, you'll see them.

                                I have heard quite a few reports of WF having some excellent bbq'd meats at some locations. Some have a smoker on premise, and are said to put a pretty mean brisket if you get there on time. It's also said to be sold out very quickly.

                                I, like swsidejim would never even think about buying meats/fish there. I can do MUCH better than their prices elsewhere. And their produce is horrendously priced as well.

                                Go on a Sat. They have all kinds of foods samples going on!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: gordeaux

                                  I really like their barbecued smoked chicken--ours has its own barbecue bar in a different part of the store from the hot bar. The smoked buffalo wings are exceptional. I buy stuff like soy smoothies there--hard to find elsewhere. Sushi, salads, healthy drinks, snacks, soup. Produce and meats only if on sale.

                                2. I'm lucky to have lots of options for natural foods around here (western MA) so the only thing I really buy at WF is butter--hormone-free butter that's cheaper than anywhere else. And that's only if I happen to be nearby.

                                  1. I'm so grateful that I have alternatives to Whole Paycheck. Their prices are really shocking. There is nothing that they have that I can't find elsewhere. It seems to me that only the 365 Brand is not horrendously overpriced (by about 20%). They do have a bulk section so if I just need a small amount of some specialty flour or grain for baking, that's what I usually buy there. Occasionally something like Copper River Salmon if it's hard to find elsewhere. And they have a gelato stand in most stores.

                                    1. Everyone knows there are certain things you simple DO NOT buy at Whole Foods. Almost all non-perishables like toilet paper, paper towels, many canned items, etc are over-priced and usually different from what I'm used to. I think I’ll stick to Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce and Zatarain’s Jambalaya Mix when I want a quick taste of my childhood.

                                      That said, the produce at my Whole Foods always looks better than Safeway, Giant, Harris Teeter, or Trader Joe's. They have a much more extensive selection on things like mushrooms, obscure veggies, and local fruit when it’s in season. They have a great beer selection (not so much on the Wine front), and their cheese case is unmatched by any other grocery store.

                                      I agree that most of their meat is over-priced, but I think the fact that they constantly have someone manning their meat and fish cases is worth a few extra bucks per pound. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to talk to someone at the meat counter elsewhere only to be left twiddling my thumbs while I wait for the illusive high-school dropout to tell me that they, in fact, don’t have any more ground beef “back there”. The staff at my WF is always there and ridiculously accommodating. Take the skin off these chicken thighs? Sure! Cut this chuck roast in half? You got it! Ground me some pork? Absolutely! How much would you like?

                                      Whole Foods takes a lot of crap for being expensive, but I'm glad to see people on this board appreciating the fact that they consistently deliver products of a much higher quality than their competitors.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: aburkavage

                                        i agree re produce, esp wild mushrooms and they're not more expensive than anywhere else... actually cheaper. and greens like kale, bok choy, mustard greens, etc.

                                        bragg's amino acids is cheaper here than anywhere else, i believe because they have a demand for it enough to allow them to buy in bulk and charge lower prices versus at a regular market that offers it as a specialty/novelty item.

                                        two other things that's cheaper here than other markets - canned hearts of palm and canned artichoke hearts. go figure... i found that out by accident too.

                                        1. re: Emme

                                          the bragg's comment reminded me - their apple cider vinegar is usually cheaper there as well.

                                          but i have to disagree with emme re: the canned artichoke hearts & hearts of palm...the only "inexpensive" ones i've found at WFM are the conventional ones, and they're usually pre-cut. i go to TJ's for mine - they have great prices, even on the organics.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            funny ghg, i actually like the convenience of the precut hearts of palm sometimes, and i like that those cans (the blue can label) are generally softer than the non-precut ones. they taste more like the ones in the WF salad bar that i like. and for me, ralph's market vs. WF for canned artichoke hearts is 5.99 vs 2.99... do u happen to have a guess as to how much the hearts in a can are at TJ's? i usually never think to buy canned stuff there (though i did buy hearts of palm there once), as im usually there buying the "I come to TJ's for *this*" stuff :)

                                            1. re: Emme

                                              it's been ages since i bought the HOP at TJ's [actually, i stopped eating canned food, period - acidity issues]. but the whole, organic ones were definitely under $3 per can.

                                          2. re: Emme

                                            cheaper produce and mushroooms, really? Definitely not the case here in Jersey.

                                            1. re: yankeefan

                                              yankee - where in jersey? the edgewater store has good produce, and they're often less expensive than kings...and sometimes even stop & shop when they have specials.

                                        2. We like their fish. It's not cheap, but it's always fresh and they have a much wider selection than the other supermarkets around here (where I don't even know of an old school fish market).

                                          1. Contrary to what one poster said, we actually do buy many of our paper products and cleaning supplies at WF. Our regular grocery stores carry very little if any environmentally friendly cleaning products or recycled paper products and this is something that means something to us, so we buy them at WF. There is another locally owned store that sells them but they are much further away and we only go there once every couple of months, if that. If we are out or low and can't plan a trip to the locally-owned place, we buy cleaning/paper stuff at WF. Not much else.

                                            1. i like their spinach pie, quesadillas, macaroni salad,from the prepared foods. The vegetable chili is also pretty goos as is their roast beef (nice and rare). The cakes are very expensive and not particularly good except for some great tiramisu and the snickerdoodle cookies. They have great chocolate milk in a glass bottle. The fish is not particularly fresh. I went on a Thursday and they told me the salmon i was looking at came in on Tuesday. The meat is good but veryexpensive. The butchers are very accomodating. the fruit is hit or miss. THey deserve the knickname Whole Paycheck

                                              1. I find each Whole Foods different enough that my rec is to take some time and check the market near you out.

                                                They are better than most other mainstream supermarkets ... though pricer. I use them mostly for items I can't easily find elsewhere. Usually that is some local product and not all Whole Foods carry it. An example in my area is Alexander Valley sauerkraut. Only one WF that I know carries it.

                                                Even when I was shopping at WF more frequently, I never did all my shopping ther. I do like their prepared foods and bakery. They have interesting cheese counters but not all WH handle cheese correctly. Like everyone said a bigger dairy selection than most. I'd buy specialty meats and sometimes fish. However, I do want my mainstream cleaning products and the cats hated their cat food ... and there's no reasoning with a cat. Never did buy much produce there because there are too many places better and less expensive where I live.. Nice flowers though.

                                                1. i assume you live in tribeca, and given that the neighborhood is pretty much a supermarket dead zone, you'll love having WFM there...particularly if you're accustomed to the typical d'ags, gristedes & food emporiums around the city.

                                                  i do most of my shopping at WFM just because it's easier than running around to 5 different places [i miss my co-op back in LA!]...but it's pretty pricey.

                                                  they usually have a nice selection of organic and/or local produce [good for you since there's no gourmet garage or the like nearby], raw foods & organic meats. the fish is hit or miss. i've never had a bad experience, but i've heard others complain about the quality/freshness of seafood they've purchased there.

                                                  i don't really eat any packaged food [i'm pretty much a "perimeter" shopper], so i can't vouch for the prices on things like cereal or snacks, but the condiments i buy there don't seem to be more expensive than at other stores.

                                                  i'll defer to other opinions about the breads, because i don't eat gluten...although i can tell you their house line of GF products is not worth the money.

                                                  a lot of the new stores have fancy hot food bars, salad bars, large cheese counters & prepared foods counters, gelato/ice cream bars, olive bars, pizza counters, sandwich counters...if you're into that stuff, it's convenient, albeit a bit pricey. personally i'm not a fan of their prepared foods - everything contains way too much salt & oil for my taste. but the salad bar is definitely better than anything you'll find at other supermarkets or the local korean grocer...and since you don't have a garden of eden or similar place in the 'hood, it's probably your best bet.

                                                  the size of the tribeca store is 55,000 SF - just a tiny bit smaller than the one in the time warner center...so i imagine the offerings will be quite similar. you might want to take a trip up to columbus circle to check it out.

                                                  1. Their oranges were good this winter, and I do like their chicken thighs. The WF near me usually has shrimp for $10/ lb, but have not tried it yet. I also usually get a few cupcakes for my neice and nephew, as they are so beautiful, with lots of frosting.

                                                    1. They have the best variety of Muir Glen canned tomatoes in my area. I buy 365 chicken and veg broth in the 1 cup packages (no waste for when you only need a cup of broth). Also they have a very nice raw milk Parmesan that I buy. Their organic tortillas are actually cheaper than TJ's. Their Italian lemon soda is fantastic.

                                                      I'm not a fan of their prepared foods, except the salad bar. I've only bought chicken from the meat counter and have been satisfied with that.

                                                      Other than toiletries and the above specific items, I tend to cruise the aisles looking for stuff on sale.

                                                      1. We've been using WF for a lot of harder-to-find items like alternative flours and grains that the regular supermarkets near me just don't have.

                                                        1. The self serve bins are usually also very good and have a good assortment and of high quality:

                                                          dried fruits (great variety)

                                                          and dont forget the fresh ground peanut butter and almond butters.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: yankeefan

                                                            sadly, most new stores don't have the bulk bins - too many issues with health codes & cross contamination.

                                                            but those freshly ground nut butters are excellent - some stores even offer other nut varieties such as pistachio. and if you're really lucky, a few have separate machines that also have chocolate in them, so you can have freshly ground chocolate-peanut or chocolate-almond butter.

                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                              Some of the upscale Von's Pavillions in California have the self-serve nut grinders..really nice but dangerous for the dieter.

                                                            2. re: yankeefan

                                                              I agree. The bulk bins have great quality and selection. Technically though, I'm shopping at Wild Oats, but I have a feeling that it's set up very much like the average WF shop.

                                                            3. there's one near my office so it's my go-to place for a quick bite to eat.
                                                              that said, I love their seasonal, organic produce because they always look great compared to local grocers and farmer's markets.

                                                              and there's the perk of seeing your local celeb in sunglasses in a trench ordering sushi next to you when you least expect it

                                                              1. i get the cereals i can't buy at my regular grocery (Peanut Butter Puffins, anyone?). also, my WF is near work, so if i'm having one of those days where i need to grab a quick dinner & then go back to work, when the options are WF, Mickey D & Panera, it's a no-brainer.
                                                                DH is addicted to Brianna's ginger mandarin salad dressing (i think he drinks it, or bathes in it), which i can't find anywhere else, so i'll always pick up 2 or 3 bottles.

                                                                1. The 365 line for cereal, olive oil, coconut milk, pasta, crackers, etc. Tastewise, it's always been fine and the prices are sometimes better than the generic items in my local supermarket.

                                                                  1. I think it the end it comes down to if you are behind the idea about organic food (produce, meat etc.) or not. If you don't care about envirnomental/organic issues (which would be very sad and I would recommend reading "Omnivores dilemma" and "What to eat") than there are other shops where you can get food. If you care about envirnomental/organic issues, at least in San Diego, there are not many other major opportunities to buy organic food beside the Farmer Markets. I don't say that WF is even close to be perfect but it is the best available options for buying organic food. (Farmers markets are also very good but I don't have the chance to go to one during the week and since I don't like buying only once a week but more or less daily I have to go to WF).

                                                                    1. They just opened a huge new one here in West St. Louis County very close to my job.. Other than the size, it's pretty much like the others I've been to. Great selection, very good fruits and vegetables, and the 365 line is pretty good. While some items are reasonably priced, by and large it's very expensive, and much more than the Wild Oats it took over then closed.

                                                                      Good fish/seafood selection but not nearly the quality of Bob's Seafood, and again -- *very* expensive. The best cheese selection, but dollars more per pound than local cheese stores. They are, however, the only place to buy Match fake meat products retail. (Formerly called AuraPro, made here in St. Louis, and used by many high end restaurants). I'm generally not a fan of "substitutes" -- i.e., tofu makes lousy meat and meat makes lousy tofu --, but this stuff is pretty good. Vegetarians should petition their local WF to carry it.

                                                                      All in all I'll defintely keep going to TJs, Bob's Seafood, Global Foods, etc. I'm sure I'll pick up some things at WF - the great variety --, but after the novelty wears off (and although it just opened last week the novelty is almost gone) it's not a good place for general shopping.

                                                                      1. if you live in NYC, it's only convenience. i used to go to the one at Col. Circle - I lived uptown where there are less choices- for bread (from another producer), some cheeses (if not wanting to schlep to a smaller store), pate, raw nuts, and produce to offset whatever my local grocery didn't have at the moment. you can get the ingredients for a simple dinner there, in a way that's convenient and if you're not willing to go to a lot of stores. I remember the one in union sq. was a nightmare though, it really depends on where you are, what else is available.
                                                                        living outside of NY it's a lifesaver. no one else around here takes care of their cheese the way whole foods does, they always have some good fruit, cheaper sea salt, raw almond butter, mushrooms, good meats, ciabatta bread that I toast (not very good untoasted), cakes, and a big selection of higher quality frozen fish. I have yet to find another place here that sells decent fruit.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: fara

                                                                          I live in St. Louis and there are plenty of places with as good or better quality, depending on the type. (Produce, fish, cheese, bread, etc.) Yes, there is the convenience in getting a wide variety there, but since I'm going to other places anyway why not get stuff as good and much cheaper, saving WF for convenience and the items no one else has?

                                                                          1. re: Richard 16

                                                                            I don't know. We live in different towns.

                                                                        2. We buy the majority of our groceries at WF (we're in NYC - Forest Hills specifically). I know that some of the products are priced higher than other places, and for some items it's the same or lower. I'm willing to pay the higher prices even if it means getting less. My boyfriend and I also got tired of dealing with the moron employees and terrible products at standard grocery stores like Key Food and now that I live in Forest Hills, nearly all the grocery options stink except for our fish store.

                                                                          Before doing most our shopping at WF, we used to spend about $250 per week going to multiple stores which was ridiculous for the size of our household but going to different shops just meant buying more. We found that for the majority of what we buy, WF is much more of a one-stop place except for household stuff like paper towels, etc.

                                                                          The main things we don't buy at WF are fish because Forest Hills actually has a really good fish store and meat which we get directly from a farm that sells locally. But everything else is good there - produce, bulk items like rice and beans and grains, dairy, bread, etc. And the cold and hot food bar is good for the convenience factor.

                                                                          1. My shopping list for WF is always really short - it's the last stop on my shopping trips, and always slightly annoying (mostly because I only get a few things, and it's kind of a drag). At any rate, the list typically includes:
                                                                            - almond butter (freshly ground)
                                                                            - spirulina bites
                                                                            - grains, beans in bulk
                                                                            - 365 frozen peaches
                                                                            - cranberry pecan rolls (kind of addicted, sigh)
                                                                            - 9 grain whole-wheat sourdough - definitely not comparable to our corner bakery, but good enough on a late weeknight (when the bakery is closed)

                                                                            1. I buy most my veggies,some fruit,organic meat on sale, milk,yogurt,ice cream,pasta,san marzano tomatoes,black eye pea and refried beans,amazing corn,kettle chips,chocolate,kosher pita bread,bakery bread and much more.

                                                                              1. I see by many comments here that the "prepared foods" section of Whole Foods is considered 'expensive' at $8 per lb.

                                                                                While this may be true, ( and not just for WF), it is also true that for those in smaller households, who don't have the time to cook more than once or twice a week, by buying just the amount needed for that 1 meal, can actually eat for the same price or cheaper when all the waste and labor are taken into account.

                                                                                Sure buying a head of lettuce seems cheaper, but how much do you trim before the first portion comes off & how much of it will turn to that brown soup in the vegetable bin at the bottom of your fridge next week? And you get a few tomatoes, fennel & radishes thrown in without having to figure out what to do with the excess at home.

                                                                                The final element in the equation is the time it took you to get the stuff to the table.

                                                                                I think that when you consider all these factors, in the long run, it's probably a wash, cost-wise. All that & you haven't wasted food, which can only help on the karma front.


                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: seedyone

                                                                                  I agree with you. I think every Whole Foods prepared food departments differ from store to store but at our local store we occasionally buy a couscous dish with dried cranberries and butternut squash in it, also parsnip pancakes. Unlike most other stores with prepared foods, their stuff is interesting and made with good ingredients. It's more work than it's worth to make those kinds of things for two people and would cost more than buying them.

                                                                                  We also buy olives there, kifer, fresh ground peanut butter, and their house brand fruit-only jam, which is much cheaper than the name brands. They used to have a wonderful house brand low fat organic tomato sauce that was useful as a basis for all kinds of things, but I haven't seen it lately.

                                                                                2. I've noticed in the past month or so quite a few of my regular products I buy here have gone up a little bit (I guess everywhere that's a concern).

                                                                                  I will rarely buy produce here unless they're having a great sale. A lot of their produce is conventional and from far away (not organic and not local), yet the prices are obscene.

                                                                                  On the other hand, some of their grocery items are pretty reasonable. I really like their 365 Day brand Roasted Vegetable pasta sauce. WF is the only place around me that sells Friendship cottage cheese, so I always buy that. I also buy some of their bulk items like tamari almonds.

                                                                                  1. I actually frequent the salad bar for lunch during the week- they often have some really good sweet potato or tempeh platter that is actually reasonable.

                                                                                    In terms of other stuff, some can be ridiculously expensive with the produce and usually not the best quality. Things I often get there in Jersey are:

                                                                                    solid beer selection at decent price, nice craft beers
                                                                                    self ground peanut butter/other butters
                                                                                    dried mango and other bulk (dates, granola, etc)
                                                                                    greek yogurt
                                                                                    great bakery breads/rolls

                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: yankeefan

                                                                                      I would love to go to the salad bar at my local WF. Unfortunately, all I had to do was watch what goes on their for one minute to be permanently deterred.

                                                                                      People picking at the food. With their hands. eating the stuff WHILE STANDING AT THE SALAD BAR. This includes children, who just got through picking their nose, in full view of their own parents. Freakin' gross.

                                                                                      1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                                                                        I don't think that's limited to WF. Salad bars are pretty disgusting.

                                                                                        1. re: Judith

                                                                                          True, I just had higher expectations from WF. I'm not sure why I did though, when it's the customers that are the problem.

                                                                                          Same deal with those kettles of hot soup. There was a guy standing there eating the g0&@^^ soup out of the kettle! Luckily they also package their soups in the refrigerated section.

                                                                                          1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                                                                            it's not just WFM, and it's not just salad & soup bars.

                                                                                            i went off on a woman last week who was picking nuts out of a bulk bin with her bare hands. people do it all the time, and it's disgusting. that's why i'll only buy bulk items like nuts & dried fruit from the higher-mounted containers that dispense via gravity - there's no opportunity for people to stick their filthy hands in the food.

                                                                                            oh, and re: the guy who was eating the soup from the kettle...some people treat these places as their own personal free buffet. ever see the ones who get a sample cup & spoon [or fork] and just wander around, refilling it with whatever strikes their fancy? i watched some older woman do it at the salad & hot foods bars recently, and she must have gone back for at least 5 different items before i walked away.

                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                              You and I are on the same page. I do the EXACT same thing with bulk bins! In only consider buying from the high-mounted ones where the goods drip through a serpentine path to the bottom, no people touching the stuff.

                                                                                              And yes, I've seen people walking around with a plastic fork. They think that if the fork only touches something they're going to eat that makes it okay. No, it's still disgusting.

                                                                                    2. fresh arugula. cheeses. bread (love the pecan and raisin? dinner rolls). best price on kashi go lean crunch honey, almond & flax cereal. also have kashi pilaf. http://store.kashi.com/heritage_pilaf...&

                                                                                      1. I do most of my grocery shopping at Whole Foods. If I can find a comparable product at Trader Joe's at a lower price, I will. But I still buy most items at Whole Foods.

                                                                                        Vital wheat gluten (for making seitan), rolled oats, whole wheat flour, TVP and flaxseeds from Bob's Red Mill.

                                                                                        Canned organic tomatoes and tomato paste. Lowfat rice and hemp milk. Bulk organic dried beans. Wakame, kelp and dulce. Agar agar flakes. Organic grated coconut. Brown rice syrup. Natural peanut butter. Condiments (especially nayonnaise, liquid smoke, veggie W sauce, rose water). Fairly traded coffee, tea and chocolate.

                                                                                        Fresh produce- especially organic onions, grapes, kale, carrots, mushrooms, apples. They have a much wider selection of organic bulk produce- our other local groceries, if they stock organic, sell theirs in plastic or styrofoam packaging and I would gladly pay more than waste resources.

                                                                                        Quorn. No one else stocks it. They also have a much wider variety of Boca and Morningstar Farms products, when I want them.

                                                                                        Soy yogurt. Vegan cheese. Vegan wines. Our local WF stocks baked goods from the Chicago Diner- decadent vegan treats. Yum! And their little "hot bar" of ready made foods frequently has enough good stuff on offer that we can have a bit of lunch before we shop.

                                                                                        1. I usually go there for lunch instead of grocery shopping. The one near my work has the best lunch options...fresh sushi, sandwiches, pizzas, calzones, a cafe, gelato and a place to sit down and eat!

                                                                                          I love their sushi and calzones and would even buy them to take home for dinner!

                                                                                          1. At the Whole Foods closest to me, they carry cardamom seeds whole and removed from the hull, which I pound in a mortar and pestle to make the most heavenly cookies. It's the only place I've ever found them, and periodically I will make a special trip just to get them. It's not very convenient for me to go there, so I'm not too familiar with their regular offerings. But I was just there on Monday to buy the cardamom seeds, and while I was there I picked up a package of mixed wild mushrooms that was on sale for a very reasonable price, and a piece of halibut that was priced comparably to the market where I usually shop, and it was wonderfully fresh and absolutely delicious. Their prepared foods really smell good, but I'm seldom there when I'm hungry, so I haven't tried them. One of my friends stopped there on the way to my house and bought a guinea hen that he braised for us, and it was incredible (of course, he is a very good cook). Last Christmas I stopped into the Whole Foods close to my parents, and they did not have nearly the selection that my local one has.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Kathleen M

                                                                                              you've tried a local indian store for your cardamom seeds?

                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                Wow, that's a great idea! I had been trying organic markets. There's a good Indian grocery close to where I work, I'll try that next time. I can't believe that I didn't think of that. Thanks!

                                                                                                1. re: Kathleen M

                                                                                                  kathleen, you'll have a grand old time in there. take an extra shopping bag!

                                                                                              2. re: Kathleen M

                                                                                                You can just peel the whole cardamom pods to get the seeds...There is no flavor difference of the seeds of the green versus white(bleached) pods.

                                                                                              3. I have noticed a few of my everyday products I buy at WF (Friendship cottage cheese and their 365 Day Vegetable Pasta Sauce) has consistently been going up in price about $0.05 a week for the past couple of months. Grrrr

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Jacey

                                                                                                  well, everything is going up everywhere if you ask me.

                                                                                                2. After trying lots of different coffee beans, from various sources commercial and local, the Whole Foods brand Pleasant Morning Buzz is my regular buy. At 24 ounces for 9.99, it's a great deal as well as a good coffee. I also like the 365 house brand for several, not all products, Whole Wheat Couscous is good. My local WF, and I believe most/all have been doing more with weekly "specials" to keep folks from viewing the store solely as "luxury" shopping (it is in some ways, but I've found many items priced lower than local supermarkets), so I'd recommend that you walk the store when time permits, and look for specials, I just stocked up on a great deal on Cento crushed tomatoes which weren't on my shopping list but were a great deal and will be used in next months.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Buvezdevin

                                                                                                    I too have noticed the good price on whole bean coffee. At 6.67 per pound, this beats any price I've ever seen for whole bean coffee at any grocery store. My choice is the French Roast although morning buzz is also good.

                                                                                                    1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                                                                                      I just finished a bag of the Morning Buzz coffee and I felt it was a bit too dark of a roast for me to drink at 600am. The darker roast would be good after dinner with a rich dessert, but I usually drink whole bean red bag 8-O'Clock coffee in the morning.

                                                                                                      I also bought their own yogurt, K-A bread flour and their milk because they were cheaper then what I pay at my usual store.

                                                                                                  2. The fish at all (all NYC) Whole Foods is smelly. No matter how cold it is in the store the fish counter smells. Not that nice oceany smell that something is not fresh here smell. It's all on ice, but something is not right here. The fish at Citarella never smells, and they have a larger selection. Lots of organic frozen good at Whole Foods and large selection of beer and ale.

                                                                                                    1. My store as well make decent "non-msg, etc." sausages ...especially linguica.
                                                                                                      Fish at this store isn't very good nor very fresh. They are making decent fresh sandwiches..the vegie ones have been really tasty or a hard roll sand with lunch meats is large enough to serve two.
                                                                                                      Air-chilled organic chickens are available here...quite tasty birds.
                                                                                                      They stock my fav pasta and yes, the local bakeries divine breads.
                                                                                                      We live in food paradise so fresh, organic foods can be found just about anywhere ... especially at our local farmer's markets. I usually never buy vegies nor fruit there...although in the past year or two, our local storesores have tried to promote local farmers produce. Generally vegies and fruits from WF lack flavor. I have heard that their 365 line in part is produced in China.
                                                                                                      The best Whole Foods I've been to is the big one in New Orleans...their smokehouse meats rock for taste. There "sushi stand" is humangeous! They even make miso and noodles after a tough night out!

                                                                                                      Inform Oneself

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: DebnNorm

                                                                                                        "I have heard that their 365 line in part is produced in China."

                                                                                                        Anything specific? I always check labels to make sure. I have seen frozen vegetables from China...can't recall whether hey were 365 or Cascadian farm. What ticks me off is when their produce is labeled incorrectly. Such as when the sign on a bin says "Cantaloupes, Conventionally Grown in California" and there's a smiling produce clerk stocking them up from a crate that says "Mayan Pride Cantaloupes--produce of Mexico"

                                                                                                      2. There is no WF anywhere near my home. So, when I have a chance to shope there I heard to the cheese section. Especially like the goat gouda. There is such a huge selection of cheese I like to try something new each time. Also like the granola choices in the bulk food section.

                                                                                                        1. They have some killer pickles, I always pick them up if/when I am in Whole Foods.

                                                                                                          1. I agree whole paycheck BUT the Bakery at the Petaluma CA Whole Foods is to die for... amazing freshly baked goods that sorta masquerade as being healthy:)
                                                                                                            The brewed coffee is so-so, the deli goods and sushi bar overpriced. I like some of the 365 brands. However I have found so many similar organic items at FAR less the WF price at the Grocery Outlet two blocks west.

                                                                                                            1. Heinz English Beans (the kind with no HFCS), small Parmalat boxed milks (for the kids), an occasional wedge of Parmesian, and a local brand of whole coffee beans (Swings). Also sweetbreads when they have them.

                                                                                                              I avoid the fish because it smells fishy, and for meats I go to the local Latino/Asian bodega. Whole fish with the heads on are much cheaper and fresher.

                                                                                                              Whole Foods has its work cut out for it, trying to sell themselves as a "value" grocery store.


                                                                                                              1. They are one of the few places that carry Shryriki noodles--if you do the low carb thing... they're excellent.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: Teraesa22

                                                                                                                  I confess I like the prepared foods although expensive. It's nice to go there, with friends, eat their free samples, look around and then eat my prepared food choices in their eating area before going home.

                                                                                                                  Sometimes after buying items I have then tried to find recipes and make the food at home.
                                                                                                                  I was introduced to quinoa and grains salds at WF and now make my own.
                                                                                                                  I don't buy from the open salad bars because of sanitary concerns.
                                                                                                                  I also like the "Imagine" brand of soups and buy when on sale.

                                                                                                                2. Nothing. I prefer Trader Joes and Fresh and Easy and Henrys and local ethnic markets like the Bahars on Crown Valley. They're cheaper, easier to check out, and with amazing selections, all. I cannot see how, in the coming crunch of competition, Whole Foods will survive. Too big, too expensive, too smug.

                                                                                                                  1. I'm orginally from New Mexico, but haven't lived in-state in a few years. The #1 canned enchilada sauce (if you must resort to canned) is Hatch... I've found that WF often carries Hatch.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: shibas_rock

                                                                                                                      Compared to most of the supermarkets in MA Whole Foods really isn't such a bad deal. Some stuff is cheaper and some more expensive. That said I can't get enough of their munchies like cookies and crackers.

                                                                                                                    2. I would say if you are really into shopping @ WF, then just go in and experiment. As with most chains, you will find this store probably excels at some things and not so much at others.

                                                                                                                      Here in Denver there is a lot of inconsistency between stores. For example, I have to go to the store in Tamarac Square for meats (and really good brisket), the store in Cherry Creek for fish and the store on Capital Hill for veggies.

                                                                                                                      Now before y'all start piling on me for driving all over town for stuff at WF, these are just facts to know if I happen to be in that part of town and suddenly think I need something - this is not a "ooo, I'm hosting a dinner tonight, I need to go all over town to get all my ingredients" kind o deal.

                                                                                                                      1. I think it depends upon the area competitionn in my area there are few store that offer the variety of specialty items and organic items.

                                                                                                                        I rarely buy canned food so I can't compare those items.

                                                                                                                        Specifically their prices on bulk items(oats rice almonds), some beers, frozen haricot vert, tonic water are better than food lion harris teeter, lamb shoulder, short ribs, mussels, some produce, self refill water and even tater tots(better price than wallie world). I think they have strong cheese selection in my area, nc, and they definitely have better customer service than most area stores. knowledgeable about cheeses, meats generally. I would stay away from there prepared food though the salad bar can be a good option at lunch

                                                                                                                        1. I like their selection of frozen organic meals. They have a lot more brands than Wegmans, TJs and other local grocery stores here. I especially like the Linda McCartney meals.

                                                                                                                          Once you burn out on Lean Cuisine, etc., it's nice to have other options for microwave lunches.

                                                                                                                          1. Luckily I live in a place where I can stop into ethnic stores to buy much better quality produce, grains, nuts and almost anything that Whole Foods sells for incredibly outrageous prices. If I want fresh spices, a much larger variety than WFs has, I have several spice stores in my area. When you enter it smells scrumptious. The prepared foods in WF are ridiculously over priced and not all that fresh (think about how long they have been sitting in the glass-enclosed case). The salad bar I wouldn't trust for a minute. Don't tell me you've never seen anyone picking out a piece or 2 or 3 with their fingers. Seafood, many seafood stores sell seafood at better prices and you don't have to stand in long lines on a summer weekend if you plan on grilling it.

                                                                                                                            All-in-all, I think, WFs is a status symbol to some who want to say, "Who me, I buy that at Whole Foods!" To me it isn't a status symbol, it's a sign of an uneducated consumer who is being taken for a ride. An expensive ride, at that.

                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: whynot2

                                                                                                                              Wow! Where do you live! What great selections - I have many grocery stores nearby. One (local) within walking distance and more than ten (10) within ten (t10) miles. This includes Costco, Walmart and ethnic stores, some of which I'm lost when I venture into (Wally's included).

                                                                                                                              I understand the OP's question though - if WF's is that close, I'd use it for the times that I don't want to travel further for groceries, especially after a long day - hence, my continued patronage to the local store where the prices are not always great and the selection can be better at other stores.

                                                                                                                              I edited to add that the nearest WF is more than 30 minutes from me and I've only been there once. I don't remember a big disparity with the prices although it reminded me of Sprouts (maybe a local chain?). WF was clean and well organized which I appreciate in any supermarket.

                                                                                                                              1. re: whynot2

                                                                                                                                LOL if Whole Foods is a status symbol it's no better or worse than the I'm a better person because I don't shop at Whole Foods crowd. Pot meet kettle.

                                                                                                                              2. To me, it is a one-stop place for fancy foodstuff that would have otherwise required me to go to several different stores. They tend to have a good selection of cheeses, deli meat, chocolates and cookies that are hard to find elsewhere. Also things like dried strawberries at the bulk bin, and croissants at the bakery. I definitely avoid getting the produce from there unless desperate.

                                                                                                                                I actually make a point to go to one when I happen to be in a new city, just to see what it has to offer, especially for dairy products.

                                                                                                                                When time allows, I also like to browse and sample (and occasionally, shop) at the natural skincare section, which is quite good.

                                                                                                                                1. Dry Goods - loose popcorn kernels (for sprouting), roasted corn (in round containers, very tasty as a snack).
                                                                                                                                  Fish - beautiful whole fish of various kinds (WF ships fresh fish from Europe daily, so I was told)
                                                                                                                                  Produce - time to time fruits that actually smell good
                                                                                                                                  Plants - always the first to offer gardenia in late Spring (keep it watered to have blossoms for cutting all summer long)

                                                                                                                                  These are just a few of my favorite things. I thank God for WF, Trader Joe's and Wegman's - not because they offer orangic but because I find consistently high quality and tasty foodstuff and knowledgeable/helpful staff in their stores.

                                                                                                                                  1. I don't shop at Whole Foods regularly, but when I'm in the neighborhood, I always end up with fresh seafood, poultry sausages, cheeses, produce, & some dairy & soy products (flavored tofu, tempeh, etc.).

                                                                                                                                    1. Their 365 house brand is quite good...when fresh blueberries are not in season, I buy their 12 ounce bag of 365 frozen organic wild blueberries...$3.99. Their fresh seafood counter is quite good, especially for their fresh crabcakes which are unbelievably delicious but I only buy them when they are on sale; just about 100% crab chunks, to DIE for! 3 or 4 ounce patties which is all you need for 1 serving. I also buy their organic yellow popping corn from the bulk bins, quite cheap and a very healthy snack; their loose flax seed also from the bulk bins--I eat ground flax every morning, I think it was $1.99 a pound last time I bought it. I generally do like Whole Foods; some things ARE overpriced but certain things are great for me and it's right on my way home from work and quite close to home.

                                                                                                                                      1. Cheese (Under $4 bin is always my first look), Bread (I don't eat it often so I make sure it's good bread), and wine (the 5 after 5 really helped me try a LOT of new wines).

                                                                                                                                        Occasionally pasteries, dried fruit, and prepared foods.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Crockett67

                                                                                                                                          You have to try the El Sperlonga bread if your WF carries it. Every few stores have different buyers per region but if you can get your hands on this bread it is so good. Enjoy

                                                                                                                                        2. I hardly ever 'shop' there, but these are the few items I have purchased:

                                                                                                                                          --Hot-bar meal--if I have had a realllly long work-week.
                                                                                                                                          --Local vegan pre-made meals (in the refridgerated section--NOT frozen)--especially if I want to try a restaurant in the city, but don't have time to drive there.
                                                                                                                                          --Whole Wheat Pastry Flour--it is the only place I can find this in my area
                                                                                                                                          --Nutritional Yeast--it is the only place I can find this in my area

                                                                                                                                          Also three huge differences between WHF and TJs are:
                                                                                                                                          1) WHF supports/carries a lot of local products & has events/nights to promote local products
                                                                                                                                          2) WHF will 100% OPEN ANY PRODUCT (except maybe the $600 caviar) and let you try it. TJ never cares if I wonder about a product... they just restate their return policy (which is generous)--BUT there is a difference.
                                                                                                                                          3) WHF nutritional facts/info are not slap-dash like TJs. So often I look at the numbers, and TJ is off or contains hidden ingredients.

                                                                                                                                          1. This really depends on your area. What options you have for farmers markets, and other grocery stores.

                                                                                                                                            With Whole foods I often get the wild caught fish - Most Publix stores in my area only serve salmon and Tilapia while Whole foods has a lot larger fish department.

                                                                                                                                            They also carry grass fed beef and bison. My grandma who thought she could never have a hotdog ever again because of diet restrictions was able to eat a bison hotdog we made cooked up on a whole wheat roll.

                                                                                                                                            I urge you to scope things out and price check from your regular grocer to WF. Somethings are very expensive that you can get else where for cheaper. Which does depend on your area.

                                                                                                                                            Maybe a quick visit where you only need one thing, that you can scope out prices and compare them would be best.

                                                                                                                                            We bought lemons from whole foods and in two days they were moldy. wtf? So it really is you feeling everything out.

                                                                                                                                            1. Went to WF 2 days ago and I have to go back. I had the best blueberries, grape tomatoes, avocados and their El Sperlonga bread ( for my bread dad) is fantastic. I've never had such fresh tasting fruit in my life. They may be more expensive but it's so worth it. I even tried their maple bacon Tempeh and I have to say it was pretty good. I bought their Udi's gluten free bread that I store in my freezer, then defrost in the microwave 30 secs and then toast. Put mayo on the toast with thinly sliced avocado, tomatoes, spinach and maple-bacon tempeh. Really good. Hope this helps. Enjoy

                                                                                                                                              Oh I almost forgot, Bobbi's Hummus is amazing. I could eat the whole thing by myself. So yummy