Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Further Proof: Not As Good As You Think

I am very much against the large businesses who come in and kill off small town America by undercutting the locals pricing and putting them out of business. Then some even go on to create mega centers and force people to drive a long way to get what they need, jack the prices, and the consumer gets stuck - and small town America is still gone. (But that's not my topic today.) I have never really been a Whole Foods shopper. I can't quite figure out why people want to pay so much more for produce and other healthy food. Never have, never will.

I also greatly dislike their business model where they take over the smaller local businesses, force the food co-ops (remember them?) and other small independents out of business based on the premise and its 'organic'. Yes, they carry a wide range of weird vegetables that are pretty cool (purple carrots when over cooked, look pretty much like orange carrots) but their policies suck and their pricing is way too high and talk carbon foot print on a coconut from Thailand...

Let's stick with the easy one first. Carbon foot print: if you are buying produce from South America in the middle of winter, it needs its own frequent flyer program, it is actually not very fresh, and its probably really expensive. Yes, sometimes its nice to have some thing fresh in January but pay attention to what you get where. I shop at local farmer's markets in the summer, a small local farm stand in the spring and fall, and a big local farm stand (because the small one closes) in the winter. I know not all the produce is grown right there but it is relatively local. I know I get produce from outside New England. But I also usually know where its from and it usually didn't come by plane.

WF pricing is astronomical. I just went to the website to find a weekly flyer with pricing to cite and wasn't really surprised they don't publish their pricing because everyone would rethink their shopping destination. I used to work near a WF and we used to joke that WF's salad bar was the only place you could buy an $11 salad for lunch (along with the ever present fruit flies and multitudinous mayonnaise based items). So what is so good about Whole Foods? I haven't found anything yet (except I can buy quinoa in bulk and that's the only reason I go there, ever. And sometimes I just buy it in little boxes from Trader Joe's.)

But the latest from their CEO, just really gets me. Did you read his editorial in the Wall Street Journal last week where he provides his views on health care reform? Perhaps he should watch his words a bit more carefully (especially after the Wild Oats incident). He has managed to anger many of his customers so I guess he gets points for that. But perhaps he should start polishing his resume and submit it to Walmart.

Wow, I just wrote a lot. Okay, so maybe this is a sore point for me. I used to shop at two local chains, Bread & Circus and Wild Oats, and the local food co-ops, along with farm stands. I don't shop at WF (see quinoa above). I always have found them too expensive. I vote with my feet. You may ask how does this relate to cancer? When you have cancer they tell you to eat right, more plant based, less meat, blah, blah, blah. WF would be a great place to shop if you could afford it while paying your medical co-payments.

But enough soap box for today. I have to get ready for a busy day: a doctor appointment for my ankle, errands, work from home, coffee date, family dinner for my father's birthday. But at least I don't need to rush off this morning. I have a whole hour to play on the internet before I have to leave which is most unusual for me - my life is almost like working full time these days.

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