Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Tribute to Whole Foods (and criticism)

They have done so much for the organic industry, it's so hard to criticize them. As far as propelling the organic movement (what I call the longer-named Life Of Health And Sustainability) into the limelight and mainstream market, Whole Foods has accomplished more than any other organization on the planet. And yet it does seem that the experience you get there, while an altogether revolutionary shopping experience, has diminished in organic value. I appreciate and applaude a mix of conventional and organic products (there's really no reason to buy EVERYTHING organic), just hope they don't get any more deceptive in their marketing cause it's starting to push the limits.

They have numerous prepared food bars and yet finding a single organic ingredient can be very difficult. They have big organic signs in the produce section, but I would estimate 30% or less actual organic products. And their signs are all mixed up. The only way to be sure you're getting organic is to look at the sticker PLU on the item. If it starts with a 9, it's organic. But I recently browsed through their pile of "Organic"oranges and found at least 50% of them were conventional. YOu know they charge you for organic at the register, so you're basically being charged organic prices for conventional produce. Good luck getting an employee to tell you if something is organic or not when the product doesn't have a sticker (very common)....they just guess.

Anyways, I love em. People complain about their monopolistic ways, but it's how they've fueled the growth they've achieved. Supply in the organic industry is very difficult. Not only are there the regular problems of weather, disease, and pests, but demand is so high right now that there is not enough organic product to go around. Whole Foods purchased the largest, and pretty much only, central texas distributor of organic produce and groceries. THey proceeded to make the distributor a "Whole Foods Only" distributor. This left a rather large hole in the supply chain. That's an area Greenling.com is trying to fill.

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