Whole Foods has coined itself "the world's healthiest grocery store," yet is affectionately known by most of America as "Whole Paycheck" for its rather elevated prices. But what specifically is the reason that the food at this chain is so much more expensive than everywhere else? More importantly, is a dinner from Whole Foods really worth such a hefty chunk of your salary?
To begin, multiple journalistic investigations have confirmed that Whole Foods is indeed overall more expensive than other grocery stores. This is not to say that each individual item is necessarily more costly, but a trip to pick up a decent amount of staple foods will put a more significant dent in your wallet at Whole Foods than at Trader Joe's, for example. To find out why, I spent more than a few hours pouring through articles about Whole Foods, its practices, and all of the rules and regulations they have about their products.
From this search, I've come to the conclusion that the Whole Foods website has an overwhelming amount of links to its "quality standards," all of which ostensibly give them the right to add a significant upcharge to their products. I've summarized the points below that stuck out to me the most, but I will say that there is a lot of information regarding the raison d'être of Whole Foods that I don't have the space to cover. If you're seriously considering shopping regularly there (or deciding not to regularly shop there), I would suggest that you explore their website in detail and reflect on whether you think that their policies are worth the price.
The Food Ingredient "Naughty List"
"Natural" Meat Only
At the end of the day, is Whole Foods worth it? It's up to you. There are plenty of products in other grocery stores that meet these high standards, but the attractiveness of Whole Foods is its comprehensive and universal regulation of every product on its shelves. Whole Foods is a profit-seeking company, and as consumers we vote with every dollar we spend. If the issues I've described above (or any of the others explained in detail on the Whole Foods website) are integral to your state of being, then you may not be bothered by their infamous price markups. Just be careful that you aren't tricked by some questionable health claims in the packaged food aisles (stay tuned for next weeks article about that!), and enjoy your fresh, clean, and rigorously-regulated dinner.
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed nutritionist nor a registered dietician. The opinions expressed in this article are my own, and each individual is ultimately responsible for his/her dietary and nutrition practices. Please consult a physician before starting a new dietary program.