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Monday, March 19, 2007

Geographically Challenged Grocer

The Whole Foods market at 4th and Harrison employ people in their produce department who need a fucking City College course in World Geography.

I realize that ever since Michael Pollan shamefaced John Mackey into purchasing locally grown goods, Whole Foods has made a special effort to source their products and have, consequentially, made a big to-do about it to their customers.

I appreciate that.

However, like the pay difference between the average WF worker and John Mackey, the concept apparently must be repeated 19 times before it trickles down and enters the consciousness of their produce workers.

Case in point: Yesterday I walked into Whole Foods to purchase some fruit and a few veggies since, unfortunately, I missed the weekend Farmers Market. I wanted apples and/or pears even though I realize they are at the tail end of their season. Out of the many pears for sale, only one variety indicated that it was organic, but they were imported from Argentina. The rest were conventionally-grown American pears but at higher than conventional prices.

I mean, geez: I could've just gone to Safeway.

So, deciding against pears, I went to the apples. Conventional apples are notorious for harboring large amounts of pesticide residue, so if there's one thing to go organic on, it's apples.

While there were more organic choices in the apple aisle, all except one indicated they were from Washington or Oregon. I purchased a few Golden Delicious apples which were labeled (by Whole Foods) as grown in California. Note: I purchased them because they were grown in California. The stickers on the apples didn't say where they came from (except to say "Produce of USA") but they did say "organic" and had a website address.

Later on, I booted up and connected to the Net; went to the website and found out these apples were, in fact, grown in Washington.

Whatchu Talkin' Bout, Willis!?

But wait! It gets better.

While I continued shopping, I wandered over to a nice display of red bell peppers. Now, I realize bell peppers aren't in season yet, but if they're locally grown in a greenhouse, I'm okay with that. I started looking at the peppers, which were packaged three per bag under the Whole Foods 365 label. Again, the Whole Foods signage claimed they were California-grown. However, marked clearly on the bag for all to see were the words "Produce of Mexico".

There was a Whole Foods produce worker standing next to me, so I nicely pointed out the mistake to her. I'm sure that no matter how nice I was about it (I'm always as sweet as pie!), I came off like an asshole. Not that she could care – she didn't say or do anything except try to pull out the offending sign.

No "sorry, our mistake". No "oh, we're training someone new". Nothing. Nada. Not that I was expecting a royal bow and a plea for forgiveness, but a simple reply would've sufficed.

I hope I'm not overreacting but I feel there is a serious problem here.

It's called Fraud. It's called False Advertising.

And it's just lame.

Whole Foods' image in the mind of many is favorable, although that's somewhat hard to believe when you take into account their stagnant stock price. Perhaps that's due to the fact that for many people, "Whole Paycheck" isn't a term of endearment; they will eventually switch over to cheaper alternatives if and when given the chance. There are other negatives about the size and structure of the company that I won't elaborate on. However, if the inconsistency and indifferent customer service at the Whole Foods at 4th and Harrison in San Francisco is indicative of the company at large, I can't imagine them growing fiscally any time soon.

Service, reliability, and trust still count for something in this world.


PS I wasn't going to mention how God-fucking-awful the service in the meat department is at this store, but I will say these two words: gender discrimination. Check it out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree-sometimes Whole foods pisses me off in many ways.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Chubbypanda said...

Ouch. Sounds like you had a really bad experience. I wouldn't say that Whole Foods is all that, but at the moment, it's the most reliable place I have to get humanely raised meat.

I get my produce from the local farmers market and my fish wild-caught from a local fishmonger.

12:58 PM  

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