“Whole Foods” needs a diet, says CEO, and we need to watch where we shop!

I have to say, I wasn’t shocked by the WSJ blog post “Whole Foods CEO: ‘We Sell a Bunch of Junk’. All you have to do is walk through the aisles of any Whole Foods to know this is true. Long gone are the health foods, although the fresh fruits, veggies and meats are still top notch.

I have to agree with the WSJ that Whole Foods has become more of a  “food boutique” than a “health food store” and Whole Foods own CEO, John Mackey, agrees. He noted to WSJ that “We sell all kinds of candy. We sell a bunch of junk.”

Makey noted to the WSJ that sales of items such as “grains, seeds and nuts” are 1% of their sales down from 15-20% of their sales, and he hopes to come up with a plan to educate customers and help them become more healthy.

Our area has a couple Whole Foods stores as well as stores like Stop and Shop and Roche Brothers. Your area may have different chains but I’m sure they are equally diverse and likely with price clubs which people love. I know I love those discounts!

I’ve long since found that Whole Foods didn’t work for my family and here’s why:

1. It’s really, really pricey. This is a gigantic issue with a family of 4 and growing kids.

2. I can’t find all the food I know my kids will eat.

3. I don’t find the meats and produce any more fresh than the other competing major grocery stores which carry more bulk items and discounts.

4. They seem to have a huge amount of prepared foods, baked goods, cheeses but no stock items that get you through a week.

5. The “healthy” and “natural” items Whole Foods touts are actually at Stop and Shop and Roche Brothers near me for far less money…and in bulk!

6. Whole Foods doesn’t offer a “price club” brand or a discount card as Stop and Shop has. The savings to a family from those simple no-name brand options is staggering and most of us find no difference in taste. Given how much growing kids eat, generic works just fine.

To be frank, why shop at stores like Whole Foods except for the occasional novelty item when other stores provide everything in one place and at a much more family family price point. With kids someday heading off to college and our country in a recession, every dollar counts for most of us. Plus, we’re all really busy. I hate grocery shopping and really just want to go to one store, get what I need and go on my way. If I shop at Whole Foods, I know I’ll need to stop at a second store to fill in the gaps of items on my shopping list I know they don’t carry…who has that time??

Life gets complicated enough. Shop where it’s convenient and affordable and don’t get lost in the hype…because that’s really what it is.


  1. VickyandJen.com says:

    Very happy to read your take on this! I don't shop there (only went once to see what the hype is all about) and felt I was missing out on something! Thanks Dr. Gwenn!

  2. Although I find Whole Foods very pretty, it doesn't offer many incentives to be a frequent shopper. For the boutique grocery shopping, I prefer Trader Joe's, where I can find some good staples and where I don't feel like I'm spending too much. Lots of healthy options there, but boy those chocolate-covered blueberries are tempting.

  3. Callie Durbrow says:

    I totally agree with this post. Whole Foods does have some good options but I rarely shop there. I also think that people get somewhat "tricked" into buying things that are not so healthy just because Whole Foods markets itself as a health foods store. I like it on occasion and do enjoy the salad bar if I need a quick lunch option.

  4. Sorry if you posted on this already, but give us some hints as to the healthy food staples you recommend to families. i.e. what do you buy at the store?

  5. Dr. Gwenn says:

    V&J: I so agree…I walk out of there a great deal because I can't find food that will make a meal for my family.

    Callie: I have to say the Whole Foods salad bar does come in handy. If I'm on my own, that is one reason I might run in to that market if I'm near by.

    TR: I'd be happy to post about staples I try and stock for my family. I posted a back to school lunch post a couple years back – I'll pull it out and update it with a shopping list now that we're all in back to school time.

    My family isn't all health all the time but we've found a way to be more health conscious while eating and I've seen that make a huge difference in how we all eat, manage dining out and shop. Happy to share it all with you.

    Dr. G

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