I think everybody loves the idea of Whole Foods- fresh, organic groceries with a slight “damn the man” hippie undertone. Just today I overheard two women in front of the eggs arguing about cage free vs free range and wasn’t the least bit phased. At this point almost everybody and their mom (literally, I watched this with my mom) has seen Food, Inc. or has at least some clue as to where the majority of grocery store food comes from. And even though it frustrates me when people assume the word “organic” is synonymous with “healthy”, I’d never discourage a person from being more conscious about what’s really in their food. So yeah, sure, ok- go ahead and buy “organic” pastries….::rolls eyes::
But I made the purposeful decision during Whole 30 to only shop at Whole Foods for a few reasons. First of all, I justified the extra expense from my non-existent restaurant bills and bar tabs. And guess what? I managed to save an obscene amount of money in July, even with my weekly (and sometimes more) trips to Whole Foods. Secondly, their meat selection is amazing. They’re one of the only places I can get ground bison, and they have a wide variety of grass-fed beef. It made my shopping trips significantly easier. Lastly, they carry products like coconut aminos that I just can’t find at Kroger. Instead of making two stops at different grocery stores every Sunday, I just decided to suck it up and buy it all at Whole Foods. And ya know what? I learned a few cool things in the process:
They give stuff away for free
Ok confession- I put this one first because I learned this about a year ago while I was living in Philadelphia. Each Whole Foods employee is given a certain amount of money they can “give away” in free products everyday. If you’re ever unsure about a product, just go ahead and ask an employee what they think about it. If you catch them early enough in their shift, they might let you take it home and try it out for free. Cool huh?
They label everything
What’s in this chicken salad? Does this baked salmon contain soy? Is there sugar in this uncured bacon? The answer to all these questions (and more) is readily available on literally every product Whole Foods sells. This was a huge advantage during Whole 30- it helped me actually figure out what I could and couldn’t eat. And as much as I love Central Market, it makes me sad that they can’t do this the same way Whole Foods does.
They’ll steam your fish for you
Sporadically, they have plain grilled salmon available in their prepared foods section. The only ingredients were “salt, pepper, and salmon” so I got pretty excited. When I went back the next week and the ingredients contained canola oil, I found myself complaining to the check-out employee when they asked the obligatory “did you find everything you needed today?” question. That’s where I learned this valuable tip: whenever you buy fresh seafood from the counter, they’ll take it back and steam it for you with whatever seasonings you’d like. They actually have a pretty nice selection of seasonings to pick from (Jamaican jerk, tequila lime, lemon pepper, etc…) and if you do it at the beginning of your shopping trip, they’ll have it finished for you by the time you leave.
The butchers will do the work for you
Last Valentines Day my dad bought my mom a meat pounder because apparently there’s nothing else left to buy your significant other after 40 years. Luckily for my mom, it was the Lamborghini of meat pounders. And while I’ve long since admired this fine culinary tool, I remain meat-pounder-less. That’s where the Whole Foods butchers come in. They’ll pound your meat, marinate your meat, season your meat, slice your meat, trim your meat- you tell them what you want and they’ll do all the prep work (insert bad dirty joke about meat). This is great news for me because the meat pounder is hardly the only tool I’m missing from my kitchen.