2008-12-01

Whole Foods (the supermarket chain)

Last Monday, New Seasons posted this article on their blog, regarding how in a legal dispute between Whole Foods and Wild Oats, Whole Foods is attempting to get very detailed documents regarding New Seasons' operations, marketing and expansion plans, sales, earnings, goods being sold, etc. There are more details in the article, but the whole thing is just really sleazy and underhanded on the part of Whole Foods, and I hope that if you shop there regularly, this might cause you to think twice about supporting them, as they attempt to move in on a fantastic local business here in Portland and run them out of business (just like they intentionally aimed to put Wild Oats out of business).

9 comments:

  1. Hey Dave, thanks for posting about this. I didn't know that Whole Foods was running local companies out of business, I guess I hadn't thought about that before. I don't like big business taking down smaller, local businesses. That bugs me a lot. I think local, small business is so important for so many reasons. I read a book called "The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved" and the guy talked about big health food store chains taking over the small ones & then refusing to buy from local farmers unless they took out a $100,000 insurance policy. And of course, small farmers can't do that. One of the farmers simply sold garlic--and he'd sold it to this local health food store for years--and the big store came in and bought them out and kicked him out, and he had to resort to starting his own csa--which is now thriving...But it's sad that local farmers are forced to go that route because they can't sell to the local stores, because the local stores are shipping in the food from who knows where.
    I read this post just after spending $90 at Whole Foods last night. :) Is New Seasons local? I'll have to check them out if they are. I went to Trader Joes, too, which I like a lot--but they don't have the selection when it comes to gluten free flours. They have cereals, and some yummy looking brown rice tortillas that I picked up, but I wasn't able to find tapioca flour and potato starch & stuff. I guess I could stick with bob's red mill for the flours and Trader Joes for the packaged goodies, and that way I'm sticking with local businesses...right? I am so uneducated about this!!

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  2. Brenda,

    Yeah, New Seasons is a local, Portland-only company. They specifically aim to work with and support local farmers (rather than make a lot of money off of them).

    http://www.newseasonsmarket.com/dynamicContent.aspx?loc=949&subloc=1&menuId=191

    Not only do they carry amazing produce, meats, baked goods and other products, but our experience in the store has been that their employees are friendly, helpful, unpretentious, and seem to really enjoy working there, which is exactly the opposite of our experience with the Whole Foods in the Pearl District (by Powell's Books). New Seasons also gives free classes on nutrition and health-related topics, has space at their store for community advertisements, builds their buildings and spaces to be sustainable and environmentally responsible, and just in general seem to be about honestly providing great products and good service, not about making top dollar in every way possible.

    Their prices are also probably half what Whole Foods charges on a lot of things.

    New Seasons also has a fairly large section of Gluten Free products, including Bob's Red Mill stuff.

    Anyway, as you can probably tell, we love shopping at New Seasons, it's really a wonderful place.

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  3. I should mention... while New Seasons is going to be, on average, more expensive than Safeway or Albertsons or Fred Meyer, for local, organic products, they are actually often cheaper than any of the above (local organic chicken for instance is often $1/lb cheaper at New Seasons than Safeway's Organics line).

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  4. good to know! I know there's one in Clackamas. Time to look up if there are any nearer to Canby (Wilsonville, Oregon City--something like that!). Thanks! :) For chicken, also, 2 of my friends have ordered from this place: http://www.deovolentefarm.com/, and I want to make an order as well. We got 1/4 of a cow and 1/2 of a pig from our pastor, and the cows are grass fed, and the animals are well taken care of. I think that's important. I don't want sick meat. :) We have another 1/4 of a cow on the way soon. :)

    Hope you guys are well!

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  5. That's sad- I worked for Whole Foods for 5 and half years & had the awesome health insurance, a good salary, tons of vacation time, and big department bonuses- I also learned a ton about nutrition. If it weren't for them I wouldn't be be the in shape, earth aware greenie, schwegan I am today. Where I live there aren't any little health store to run out of town- & it would be next to impossible to find a good amount of my hippie food... what to do?

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  6. Yeah, that's when it's hard to make the call - and you have to decide for yourself what to do. If there's no other real option for you, then maybe that's just the way it has to be, and it's good that they are providing those things to people who wouldn't otherwise have them available. It's just unfortunate that they would participate in such underhanded business practices.

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  7. Oh, and I worked there during the Wild Oats Fresh Fields merger- I worked at Fresh Fields originally... and Whole Foods made a great, beneficial transition- incorporating our rules with theirs. I understand the politics may have been sleazy, but for those emplyed (like me) by the bought out companies- we were rewarded.

    It looks like what you're saying pertains more to certain areas though. DC is not exactly a crunchy city. :)

    I sound all big business lovey- I'm not- it's just that Whole Foods had a postive impact on my life (Iquit qorking there over ten years ago- I'm sure times have changed, and their mission is different). I wonder if they still train their employees the way we were trained-- 3 day sessions on what saturated fat does to your organs, etc... Sorry Dave, I'm ranting...

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  8. No, I totally understand that even in the worst cases, there is usually something good about a company - I mean, Starbucks started as a small, independent coffee shop, which now buys out other chains and shuts them down to remove competition - but yet they still do give their employees great benefits, and they treat them well. It's never a totally black and white picture, but for me, having an alternative place to shop that is local and really engages the local community and economy, it makes me think twice about going to Whole Foods.

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  9. I am thinking more than twice about it :) - Happily Trader Joe's works well for me, too. I've only me to feed- & I've found they have a lot of amazing (cheap!) flash frozen veggies & fruit. Whole Foods is more of "a what's on sale? and I need some TVP" store for me- I was just so sad to read about the evil. Thanks for a thoughtful post- I thought about it all through lunch! And when I lived inside the city I supported a little, wonderful, place called Yes!- they met all my TVP needs!

    I meant to tell you, too - as a kawaii lover... I'm having a giveaway on my new blog- come enter for fun- let's get our minds off all of this big business junk! :)

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