Fine, Iâ€™ll admit it - I have never been to Whole Foods.
In my defense, here in Minnesota theyâ€™re not exactly as ubiquitous as something like Target. But given that weâ€™ve had at least one in the Twin Cities since 1995, thatâ€™s not exactly a strong defense.
So one bright Saturday morning, my husband and I took off for our nearest Whole Foods to see what it was all about. The closest location was about 20 miles from our house. Not exactly a quick drive, but we didnâ€™t burn through a tank of gas to get there, either.
Upon stepping inside the first set of double doors, we were greeted by a liquor store. So we were already off to a great start! Mama needs some chardonnay.
Inside the next set of double doors was the regular market. And at first glance we realized this wasnâ€™t your “ordinary” grocery store. This wasnâ€™t a Cub Foods with sullen teens woodenly stocking bags of carrots and providing a stock answer (â€œUhhhâ€¦â€?) to any question asked.
Instead, the employees in produce greeted us â€“ in an upbeat fashion that bordered on alarming â€“ and offered their help should we need anything or have any questions. So we started perusing, and something I noticed right off the bat was the series of ratings systems in place for all of their fresh foods: produce, seafood, and meat and poultry.
But thatâ€™s a topic for a future blog post.
Suffice it to say, Whole Foods wonâ€™t accept just any piece of fruit or any cut of meat. They want their farmers and suppliers to be conscientious of the environment and of how they treat animals. It was so nice to see that, and to see that the suppliers who do go the extra mile to be kind to animals and the environment are rewarded.
Another thing I noticed about the place was how nice everything looked. And I donâ€™t just mean the bright helpful banners informing guests about the rating systems or about the Whole Foods values â€“ I mean in terms of the food.
All the produce displays were neatly organized, and arranged in such a way that you know someone put time and thought into it. It reminded me of the time I went to my grocery store down the street and saw a stock boy carelessly lobbing heads of lettuce onto a display, and how half of them would roll onto the floor, and it was almost mesmerizing in a weird way.
The treatment of produce at Whole Foods was mesmerizing in a good way.
Next we visited the seafood and meat counters and spoke with a few of the employees. They were all incredibly friendly, very helpful, and despite differing backgrounds they all said the same thing: they loved working at Whole Foods. And that sentiment definitely came through in their customer service and the way they talked about their store and its core values.
It took us roughly an hour to wind our way through the entire store â€“ we spent a bit of time in the dairy section discussing the different types of eggs (â€œWhatâ€™s an Omega-3 egg? Does it have a vitamin capsule inside?â€?), and I spent a fair bit of time drooling over the bakery counter (â€œLook, babe! They have macaroons! Can I just get like 18 of â€˜em real quick?â€?).
Overall, we had a great time there! And though we canâ€™t afford to go there for every grocery trip, we definitely will be returning as often as possible to get high quality produce, top-notch customer service…
And I still need those 18 macaroons.