Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Devil Wears Birkenstocks

Just received this in my "Organic Bytes" email...


CONSUMER TIPS OF THE WEEK:
HOW TO SHOP AT WHOLE FOODS MARKET

The merger of Whole Foods Market with Wild Oats highlights the benefits and drawbacks of this organic retail giant. Although Whole Foods Market certainly provides a "feel good" shopping experience for millions of consumers, it's important to keep in mind that WFM isn't nearly as green as it pretends to be. But of course, for many consumers, Whole Foods Market offers the only access for green and organic products. If Whole Foods Market is the only option available in your area, here are some important tips for the organic-minded shopper:

  • Look for locally grown produce: Whole Foods offers only a limited supply of local produce, although it is well labeled. Reduce the burden of long-distance food transportant on the planet by asking your WFM produce manager to stock more local produce.
  • Not everything is as "natural" or "organic" as you might think: Although Whole Foods doesn't carry products with trans fats or artificial coloring, everything else is fair game, including MSG and rBGH, so being a vigilant label reader is still a necessity. Look for the USDA organic label.
  • Whole Foods has taken the position that unions aren't valid. It is the second largest union-free food retailer, right behind Wal-Mart. Don't assume the employees are all adequately trained in understanding how to distinguish between products that are and are not truly organic and natural.
  • The OCA always recommends supporting your locally owned food co-op, farmer's market, CSA or independently-owned natural food store, first and foremost, (search for resources near you in OCA's "Local Buying Guide" here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/btc/BuyingGuide.cfm)

1 comment:

Katherine said...

My parents tried to get their jam into Whole Foods. The manager wanted to sell it in his store (uptown), but WFM requires suppliers to have some ungodly amount of insurance that makes it impossible for any SMALL, LOCAL grower to get in.

Thank god the farmers markets are open again.