For a lot of people when they think of Whole Foods, they think pricey, organic, over the top healthy foods. They envision rich people and “hippie” people with their reusable bags shopping for fresh produce, seafood, and brown rice. And before I started shopping there, this is what I imagined it would be as well. But actually go inside a WF, and take a look around, I think you will be surprised by the variety, not only in food and prices, but the diverse type of people who actually shop there.
As a food blogger, Whole Foods is a foodie’s dream. It has fresh pineapple all year round, huge strawberries that are bright red and juicy, kale and bing cherries, that are great for pies. And that is just in the produce aisle, when you first walk in the store.
A few local bloggers and I were invited to a weekend event, to sample some of the foods available at Whole Foods, and to find out more information on their products, store, and the company’s approach to samples, and try out new foods. Formally known as Sampling Saturday, Cassandra the marketing director has taken this concept and revamped it, now calling it ‘Taste what we are all about’. Meeting Cassandra was like seeing an old friend, so warm and friendly, excited about the company she works for, and eager to share her wealth of knowledge with us. Bright, funny, and so darn adorable, she took us through the many programs that Whole Foods offers, such as their weekly sales flyer, which features what is on sale for the day or week. How on Wednesdays, the new sales flyer comes out, available on wfmarket.com/omaha, which will show the local values and deals that are available. The benefits of checking out the sales ahead of time, which helps you make a list of the things you need, which in turn can help you stay on budget, help preventing overbuying. While we all love an extra treat, say chips and guac, sometimes this stuff is not in the budget, and you need to stick to potatoes and a piece of salmon.
For those who think that Whole Foods is just filled with organic food, too pricey to budget for, know that they have organic and conventional items, so whatever you want to eat that week can be found in different price ranges to fit your needs. I love that you can buy many of the fruits and vegetables individually, this helps to cut down not only on cost but on waste. The foodie rule of thumb with organic-only buy organic those foods that you will actually eat the skin (apples, lettuce, etc) and buy regular for those whose skin will be discarded-this will help save you money and help you shop smarter.
Lots of us are concerned with how are meat is being treated and raised, and Whole Foods has the rating system of all it’s meats right on the glass counter, so you know if your meat was raised in an open range or farm, and what food the animal was given. In today’s society, many of us are taking a more responsible look at how are meat is being treated before it gets to us. And just so you know if you want one steak, you can get just one-and they will cut it for you as you like it, all you have to do is ask! Today I purchased some jalapeno bacon that they cure in house, and I only wanted three slices-that is what I was given. I like being able to talk to the butcher and find new ways to prepare the food I am buying. A lot of time with big chains, you can’t find anyone who has actually eaten the food, or is willing to spend the time to tell you how a cow was raised, and what wine would be great to pair with a side of beef.
For those on restricted diets, Whole Foods is a great resource to have, not just in food. They carry lots of gluten free foods, and as I learned today, they also have GF shampoo and other health products. Great to know if you have a question about something, you can find a Team Member and they can tell you or get the answer for you.
Now the sampling tour-this was so much, to wander to each station and see what was offered, Coconut juice, which was light and refreshing and I was told the many health benefits. Or to the chicken sausage station-normally I don’t like sausage, the but the chicken gave it such a mild flavor that went with the preztel bun. I purchased some to take home with me, because it was that good. I tried fried pickles with a honey mustard dipping sauce, that made me want a bunch more. I tried Sangria, a seasonal beer, along with a white wine and a bloody Mary (it was fix your own for $5, which I am told is a good price for a bloody Mary) There is so much to choose from on a Saturday (samples run from 12-3, so you have time to shop and grab a sample, see if what is featured is something you would want to try on your own. Another great thing about Whole Foods is if you talk to a team member, you can try out a product that you might not have known about before, to see if that particular item is something that works for you, or your family’s diet. This is a free service they offer.
I learned so much at this blogging event, from really good themes on kids birthday parties ($175 for 10 children, $15 per child after that) to music Thursdays (3rd Thursday of the month they will have live music playing). They have a kids club, which helps you learn about food and how food involves us-they also have classes for kids, which helps them learn how to make and appreciate food. There is online ordering for the holidays, which can make your holiday to-do list a little bit easier to manage. Their 365 line, which is like a generic version of their food and affordable prices.
Whole foods is much more than an organic grocery store, it’s a place you can ask someone who works there a question, and you get a real answer. Need a new way to cook shrimp? Ask the seafood guy, he was happy to help me think of new ways to feed it to my daughter. Go on a Saturday, sample some yummy food, and look around-you might find those beets you have been craving, or a nice bottle of wine to go with those newly purchased pork chops. There is so much more to this store, and just like anything else, go in and give a try with an open mind, you might be just as surprised to find out what Whole Foods is as opposed to what you thought it would be.
Thanks to Whole Foods, Cassandra, Lisa, and the rest of the bloggers for chatting with me, laughing and asking great questions. It was a lot of fun to be apart of a new campaign and to see Whole Foods through the eyes of someone else.