I finally hit up the new Whole Foods that opened just around the corner. It wasn’t my first time going to one of these stores, but it was the first time I went there for the expressed purpose of buying produce for my house. Previously I hit it up for a last minute cheese, or wine or some other product when it was the most convenient supermarket on my way. I was expected to be blown away by a wide assortment of produce, almost all organic, that would let me indulge my vegetable wanderlust (if there is such a thing). Instead what I got was a display that reminded me more of my corner Food Lion.
Before my recent move my staple supermarket was Wegmans. Wegmans has a reputation all on its own, and from my experience it is more than well deserved. Their produce section is a good chunk of the middle of the store. You don’t send your spouse there with less than specific instructions on what to buy. “Kale” on a shopping list isn’t going to cut it when there are four varieties of kale in the conventional produce section, two kinds in the organic section and at least as many in the pre-chopped/bagged section. Similiarly vague terms like “apples”, “potatoes”, “onions” et cetera are going to throw your non-cooking spouse for a loop too. You don’t have to worry about that at the Whole Foods though.
They had “kale”, in other words what everyone else thinks of kale. That was it. I was told when they first opened they had a “kale tree.” Which to me means they took their produce selection seriously. Instead it means just a big pile of kale, apparently. Onions were pretty blase and the carrots were just the exact same kind I can buy at a Giant. My local Giant’s vegetable selection not only out does Whole Foods, but it is bigger and cheaper. It isn’t Wegmans, but the fact it is out doing the store that supposedly put itself on the map with it’s wide variety of produce speaks volumes.
With one little corner of the store dedicated to produce, what was the rest of the store? All I could see was aisle after aisle of processed foods. They were nice looking processed foods, but they were processed foods nonetheless. I’m sure there are plenty of expensive sounding sustainable, organic, vegan, paleo blah blah blah products, but it’s processed foods nonetheless. Yes their cheese selection looked great, but still not as diverse as Wegmans, and I’d bet more expensive. I’m not sure if I could buy some of the more esoteric types of goods that I was really hoping for when this store opened, which then leads me to wonder what is the point of shopping there?
I don’t mind paying extra for higher quality and higher variety of produce, meats, seafoods or cheeses. I don’t appreciate paying more just to say I bought it from a particular store. Maybe Whole Foods’ recent financial problems have nothing to do with their prices but instead the fact they are trying to put premium prices on rather run of the mill products.