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Struggling Whole Foods is Considering Rewards Program

Struggling Whole Foods is Considering Rewards Program


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Whole Foods will try out a customer rewards program for the first time in company history

Struggling Whole Foods is Considering Rewards Program

Faced with a steep drop of 35 percent in stock value, upscale grocery Whole Foods is reportedly looking to do something it has resisted for more than three decades: offer customers a rewards program.

According to Bloomberg, Whole Foods will pilot test the strategy first in Princeton, New Jersey, and then expand the program to Philadelphia later this year.

In recent years, the introduction of more organic fare by national chains like Kroger and Wal-Mart has hurt Whole Foods’s control over the natural foods market.

In an email between Bloomberg and Whole Foods spokesperson Michael Silverman, the company confirmed that the trial program, lasting between six and eight months, will be national by late 2015. Using a rewards card or mobile app, Whole Foods customers will be able to redeem points for “discounts and store experiences, such as cooking classes,” Silverman told Bloomberg.

The company is also expected to “boost sales with a new marketing campaign this fall.”

For the latest food and drink updates, visit our Food News page.

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.


Your Gut Cleanse Needs

  • Clean water and herbal teas
  • Fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso
  • GMO-free, free-range chicken (if you’re vegan or vegetarian, go for tofu and tempeh)
  • Seasonal fruits and vegetables (have a lot of these, especially the greens)
  • Healthy fats such as salmon, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and coconut oil
  • Sprouts
  • Dairy-free milk such as almond and coconut milk
  • Herbs and spices, especially ginger, garlic, and turmeric
  • Psyllium husk for more fiber
  • Apple cider vinegar, tamari, and coconut aminos
  • Super greens including BIOHM Super Greens

A Natural Colon Cleanse

As our body is constantly detoxifying by itself, there are many foods that we should be consuming to help our colon cleanse naturally. Our diet plays a vital role in how effective our liver and kidneys function in removing toxins. If you are considering cleansing your gut, your body is already doing just that! But the question is, how well?

While your body detoxifies itself, there are plenty of ways we can give our detoxification process a helping hand. If you have eaten a poor diet, then your body may be struggling to naturally cleanse. Here are a few ways to help boost your body’s natural cleansing.

High-Fiber Foods

G fiber is important to consume during your 7 day gut cleanse diet. It helps by regulating constipation, giving good bacteria a boost, and easing overactive bowels.

Eating high-fiber foods can help promote a healthy colon while helping gut bacteria. G fiber can be found in many foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and much more.

Herbal Tea

Herbal tea is a not only great for a mid-morning or afternoon pick-me-up, but it may also help digestive health. Try introducing up to three cups of herbal tea a day, however, limit any laxative herbal teas to once a day.

While laxative herbal teas may help symptoms of constipation, it can cause harm if consumed too much. Good herbs to consume in herbal teas include ginger, cayenne pepper, and garlic, as they help to remove bad bacteria.

Gut Cleanse Detox Foods

Simply, the best way to help your gut health is to eat foods that support your body’s natural detoxifying process. The liver plays a key role during detox, so it is important to consume foods that your liver will love.

There are many foods that help to promote great gut and liver health, here are a list of some foods to introduce into your diet:

  • Broccoli
  • Swede
  • Turnips
  • Cauliflower
  • Tomato
  • Carrot
  • Bok Choy
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Avocado
  • Kale

Not only do these foods help the digestive system, but some also contain antioxidants and are a powerful anti-inflammatory. For instance, carrots are a great source of vitamin A which helps to prevent liver disease. Furthermore, tomatoes help protect the liver from damage, while spinach works by reducing fat in the liver.

Foods to Avoid During a Gut Cleanse

High-fat and high-sugar foods should only be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. Eating too much fat and sugar will starve the good bacteria, which will have an adverse effect on your colon health. Here are some foods to avoid or limit:

Water Consumption

Many people overlook how important water is for your overall body health. Water plays a vital role in helping the digestive system run effectively. It is recommended to drink around six to eight glass of water each day.

In addition, try adding foods into your diet that are high in water content.

What is psyllium husk? It's a type of fiber from the seeds of Plantago plants. It is popular for its ability to absorb water. You may also need to stock up on gut cleanse supplements such as the BIOHM Gut Test and the BIOHM Reset Regimen.

BIOHM Gut Test

BIOHM Reset Regimen

  • Prebiotics, which feed the beneficial bacteria including fungi
  • Probiotics, which add more helpful strains into your gut
  • Colon cleanse, which helps get rid of the toxic buildup in the colon

Gut-Healthy Meals and Plans

Maintaining a healthy gut offers many health benefits that go far beyond helping the body’s natural detox process. While following a 7-day gut cleanse meal plan, you will see benefits of improved sleep and mood, maintaining a healthy weight, and improved heart health.

Based on the information above, your sample 7-day gut cleanse meal plan can feature any of the following meal ideas:

As Soon as You Wake Up

Start the morning with a glass of lemon water to “wake up” your digestive system. It is important to drink water before consuming any food each morning, to help stimulate your digestion.

Tip: Drink warm water as it helps your gut to digest it as it requires less energy.

Now is a good time to take any supplements that you are including in your gut cleanse diet too. Although, read the instructions before consuming any new supplements to make sure that you can maximize the benefits.

Morning Options

For breakfast, it is important for your gut and overall health for you to enjoy a sugar-free breakfast. Start your morning off with a healthy, balanced breakfast that is packed with gut-friendly foods.

Here are a few food and drink ideas for the morning:

1. Chia Pudding

An hour after, consume your first meal, which is chia pudding. To make it, combine at least a half cup of chia seeds, which are rich in omega-3, and a cup of coconut milk or almond milk in a mason jar. Set it in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 hours.

Tip: You can make this a night before. You can also create many of these, which should last you for three days.

2. Avocado Toast with Naturally Sweetened Peanut Butter

Go for whole-grain bread, but if you’re allergic or intolerant to gluten, opt for gluten-free options. The avocados, meanwhile, are an awesome source of healthy fats and multiple vitamins and minerals.

3. Scrumptious Green Waffle

This green waffle recipe nourishes your gut by enriching it with probiotics and digestive enzymes. At the same time, you can make this delicious by topping it with honey and your favorite seasonal fruit like strawberries or bananas.

4. Overnight Oats

This overnight oat recipe is completely versatile, as it can be customized each day. Simply pour ½ cup of rolled porridge oats into a bowl and pour over 2 tbsp of Greek yogurt. Refrigerate the mixture and in the morning add your favorite fruits. You could also add some pure maple syrup!

Remember: It is important to limit the number of snacks you consume throughout the day. Give your gut a break by reducing snacks. If you are feeling a bit snack-ish around mid-morning, try drinking an herbal tea.

Lunch Options

1. Lemon Garlic Baked Salmon

Salmon has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Lemon can provide you with vitamin C to boost your immunity while garlic is a prebiotic. This is easy to make. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line your baking sheet with parchment and lay down your fish with the skin on the bottom. Drizzle the fish with olive oil and then top it with minced garlic and lemon juice. You can also place the lemon slices on top. Bake for at least 15 minutes or until the fish’s flesh turns pink and becomes flaky.

2. Veggie Burrito Bowl

This healthy and delicious burrito bowl is 100% plant-based and an excellent lunch option for your gut cleanse. After all, it has super greens like arugula, herbs like cilantro, fats such as olive oil and avocado, and fiber-rich veggies like cauliflower.

Tip: To make this the best gut cleanse lunch, substitute rice vinegar with apple cider vinegar.

3. Chicken Meatball Zucchini Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce

Just because you’re doing a gut cleanse doesn’t mean you can’t have something fancy. To make this recipe, start with the meatballs. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine a pound of ground chicken, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon flaxseed and nutritional yeast, egg, and salt and pepper to taste. Form the mixture into balls and then bake them for at least 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size and quantity of the meatballs.

To make your marinara sauce, heat your saucepan and then add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix 28 ounces of peeled tomatoes, 1 yellow onion, 2 chopped garlic cloves, and a teaspoon of oregano. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour while crushing the tomatoes as you go along. On the side, make your zucchini noodles by cutting the veggie lengthwise in thin slices. Then on a skillet, add olive oil and cook the zucchini noodles lightly. Combine the meatballs, marinara sauce, and zucchini pasta when ready to eat.

Snack Options

While it is important to limit the number of snacks you consume throughout the day, here are some gut-healthy snack ideas if you are struggling to get through until mealtime.

  1. ½ Cup of Raspberries
  2. 1 Cup of Blackberries
  3. 1 Clementine
  4. Pepper Slices and Hummus
  5. 1 Apple
  6. 10 Almonds

Dinner Options

1. Kale and Turkey Meatball Soup

This is a hearty but easy-on-the-tummy soup everyone in the family will surely love. Add a spice like turmeric to make it even healthier for the guy.

2. Super Green Salad with Miso Vinaigrette

Yes, you can create a salad dressing with miso. In fact, it adds more texture and flavor, so you’ll enjoy this light dinner better. For your base or salad, choose your favorite super greens, but we recommend kale, spinach, broccoli, and arugula. You can also add some almonds, cashew nuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds, as well as sprouts. For the dressing, combine 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons natural orange juice, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, a half-teaspoon of grated ginger, and a tablespoon of water.

3. Thai-Style Lettuce Wraps

With this recipe, you can do a leaky gut cleanse without feeling bored. To make this, combine diced carrots, celery, and yellow onion. To serve as a bind for these veggies, you can pulse 1 cup of pecan halves. For the sauce, you need 1/4 cup tamari, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a drizzle of honey, and minced garlic and ginger. Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl while in a saucepan, add some water and soften your veggies. Cover them with the sauce and bring them to a simmer until the vegetables are soft. Cook for at least 15 minutes, let it cool for a while, and then transfer your mixture to lettuce cups.

More Tips for Your Natural Gut Cleanse

  • You may have two snacks a day, one after breakfast and one after lunch, but do so in moderation.
  • Exercise is also good for the gut, but during the cleanse, choose low-impact options such as yoga.
  • Mix and match the options above to excite your meal plan for the next 7 days and be creative.
  • You may also add fish oil capsules and aloe vera to your list of supplements.
  • Eat fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut as appetizers, side dishes, or toppings for your salads.

Don’t forget: finish your day off with a good night sleep. Aim to get over eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, where possible. A long sleep every night will help your overall health, giving your body the rest it needs, and boosting your gut reset diet.

Here's BIOHM avocado egg boats recipe for healthy gut health from BIOHM Health:

You can do the 7-day gut cleanse diet anytime, but make sure you do it with the approval and guidance of your doctor. The information above should help teach you how to cleanse your gut. This way, you can be proactive in taking care of your health, especially if you feel your digestive system is already out of balance.

What are your favorite gut cleanse recipes? Share them in the comments section below! Up Next:


So, what can you eat on Whole30?

During the Whole30 diet, you&rsquoll give up refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, grains, dairy, legumes, and alcohol for 30 days. That means the vast majority of processed foods&mdashfrom cookies to ketchup&mdashare out. Yup, no happy hours for a month. Foods that are typically considered good for you, like quinoa, hummus, and Greek yogurt, are also no-gos.

Why so strict? According to the diet&rsquos founders, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, these are the foods that are most likely to cause inflammation and gut damage. They&rsquore also the foods that the founders say destabilize blood sugar levels and lead to cravings.

But it&rsquos hard to say whether that&rsquos true for everyone. In general, limiting sugar and alcohol is always a good idea. But dairy, grains, and legumes? They don&rsquot trigger an inflammatory response in every person, Haas says.

With sugar, grains, dairy, and legumes off limits, here&rsquos what those following the plan can eat:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables (dried fruit is allowed in small amounts)
  • Lean proteins, such as fish, poultry, beef, and pork (preferably grass-fed and organic)
  • Eggs
  • Healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, or ghee
  • Nuts and nut butters, such as cashews, macadamia nuts, walnuts, and almond butter

A Guide to Healthy Eating: Strategies, tips, and recipes to help you make better food choices

Eat real food. That&rsquos the essence of today&rsquos nutrition message. Our knowledge of nutrition has come full circle, back to eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it. Based on a solid foundation of current nutrition science, Harvard&rsquos Special Health Report A Guide to Healthy Eating: Strategies, tips, and recipes to help you make better food choices​ describes how to eat for optimum health.


City to expand SNAP rewards programs to stores in underserved nabes

By Rose Adams

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The city is looking to pair needy New Yorkers with struggling small businesses through an innovative expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — giving money to economically-burdened citizens that can be redeemed at local mom-and-pop shops throughout the Five Boroughs.

The new program, which utilizes federal dollars recently granted by President Joe Biden’s administration, will help keep food on the table for city dwellers while providing assistance to participating grocery stores, such as Three Guys from Brooklyn on the border of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, said the leader behind the effort.

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“We want to increase participation in this program to benefit New Yorkers more, while also supporting small businesses, like Three Guys, as well as farmers and farmers markets,” said Michelle Morse, the deputy commissioner for the Center of Health Equity and Community Wellness and chief medical officer of the city’s Health Department.

The two new programs, Get the Good Stuff and Health Bucks, allow SNAP recipients to redeem extra spending money for fresh and frozen produce every time they purchase healthy items. For Health Bucks, participants can get a $2 coupon for every $2 spent at farmers markets, while Get the Good Stuff allows recipients to get an extra dollar to their card for every dollar spent on fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits, vegetables, and beans at participating grocery stores.

Shoppers with food stamps can collect up to $10 of incentives per day using Health Bucks at farmers markets, and up to $50 in incentives per day using Get the Good Stuff at supermarkets.

Under the four-year program expansions — which were funded by a $5.5 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture — the Health Department will add eight more grocery stores to the Get the Good Stuff program by working with the city’s task force on racial inclusion and equity to identify the neighborhoods hardest-hit by COVID-19 and income inequality.

The grant will also fund the added benefits to the Health Bucks program. Rather than getting a $2 coupon for every $5 spent at farmers markets, SNAP recipients can now get $2 coupon for every $2 spent.

The additional stores and incentives hope to help locals struggling with food insecurity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has not only caused unemployment rates to skyrocket, but also makes access to a whole and healthy diet more important than ever.

“We’re really, really honored to be awarded this funding because this is such a unique program. We know that New Yorkers are suffering tremendously from the inequities that have come with COVID and the economic downturn that has come with COVID,” said Morse at a press conference outside Three Guys from Brooklyn.

An owner of Three Guys from Brooklyn, a participating grocery store on the corner of 65th Street at Fort Hamilton Parkway, said that the program has helped bring in customers and boost revenue.

“About 20 percent of our sales comes from SNAP, so the program goes very far here,” said a managing partner at the shop, Philip Penta, who added that the Get the Good Stuff program gradually gained traction.

“It took a little while for it to catch on, but we’ve definitely seen an increase in people coming in to use it,” he said. “A lot of people coming in, asking, ‘Where can we get this pink card? We read about it, we saw it on a website.’ So definitely an increase in revenue for sure,” he said.

Health Bucks can be redeemed at all New York City farmers markets, and Get the Good Stuff incentives can be redeemed at these grocery stores:

  • Three Guys from Brooklyn: 6502 Fort Hamilton Parkway, Brooklyn, NY
  • Fine Fare: 459 East 149th Street, Bronx, NY
  • Fine Fare: 3550 White Plains Rd, Bronx, NY
  • Fine Fare: 675 Morris Avenue, Bronx, 10451
  • Cherry Valley: 2870 Webster Avenue, Bronx, 10458
  • Fine Fare: 89-45 163rd Street, Queens, NY

As of October 2020, there were nearly 2.8 million SNAP recipients across New York, an 8 percent increase from the same month in 2019, according to the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Service.

About the Author

Rose Adams

Brooklyn's own Rose Adams covers southern Brooklyn. Her writing has also appeared in the Villager and Chelsea Now.


Whole Foods Market, Marketing Strategies and Programs Analysis

Whole Foods Market is an American supermarket chain with its headquarters in Austin, Texas. It was e s tablished in 1980 with the merger of SaferWay and Clarksville Natural Grocery stores. Today Whole Foods Market has over 400 stores in USA, Canada and United Kingdom with over 91000 employees. The company is traded on Nasdaq with a market capitalization of over $10 billion and is a Fortune 500 company. It is the nation’s largest retailer of organic foods, 5th largest public food retailer, and the 10th largest retailer overall based on 2014 sales rankings (Whole Foods Market, 2015). The company’s mission is to “promote vitality and well-being of all individuals by supplying the highest quality, most wholesome foods available” (Whole Foods Market, 2013). Some of the company’s core values are: selling the highest quality natural and organic products, support team member excellence, create wealth through profits and growth, serve and support local and global communities.

Marketing Strategy

Segmentation

Whole Foods Market has only one operating segment: natural and organic foods supermarket (Whole Foods Market, 2013). This segment is a $100 billion market with YOY increase of 9% (NFM, 2015). The shoppers in this segment usually are health conscious, have environmental concerns, care how their food is produced and also care how the store associates and employees are treated. Trader-Joes, Sprouts Market are some of the competitors of Whole Foods in this segment. Recently more supermarket chains are carrying organic and natural foods at lower price margins to attract the clientele of Whole Foods.

The target customers for Whole Foods Market are individuals and families whose income is well above the national average, lead a healthy lifestyle and conscious of environment. Most of the customers have college degrees and live in upscale sub-urban or metropolitan areas. Another target group of Whole Foods are wealthy customers. These customers usually do not need any discount deals or coupons and will be averse to shopping at Walmart. They will be usually buying high end and expensive selections at Whole Foods (Brandongaille, 2014). The customers at Fremont store were mostly young families, new college grads working for many of the high-tech companies in Bay Area and retirees. Most of shoppers were not just shopping for groceries but sampling the foods and having brunch.

Whole Foods is currently targeting a new group of customers: Millenials. This target group consists of mainly new college graduates with more liberal or progressive values, more conscious about saving money, willing to travel and pay-off college debts rather than spending on expensive products. Whole Foods Market is opening a new line of stores specifically targeting this group of individuals (Bolton, 2015).

Positioning

Whole Foods Market positions itself as the best source for healthiest, natural and organic foods among its competitors and is the first grocery store to be “Certified Organic” in America. It has voluntarily certified all its stores and operations and till date is the only food retailer that has all store departments in all locations certified (Whole Foods Market, 2015). Whole Foods differentiates itself from its competitors by relying on its stringent high quality standards. It is also certified by California Certified Organic Farmers (“CCOF”), an independent, USDA-accredited, third- party certifier. CCOF’s Organic Certification Program verifies Whole Foods handles organic goods according to stringent USDA guidelines (Whole Foods Market, 2015). One of the key positioning strategy of Whole Foods is its supply chain. It procures its products from local and global producers and ensures that its products are manufactured without violating any labor laws, human rights or animal rights.

Marketing Programs

Whole Foods carries huge varieties of high quality organic and natural products. Some of the products are usually very exotic and not available in other supermarkets. An average store carries 34000 SKUs and much larger stores usually carry about 50000 SKUs (Whole Foods Market, 2015). Due to the focus on carrying high quality healthy foods, we do not usually find products in Whole Foods that are common in other supermarkets. For example, Whole Foods does not carry sugary sodas that are known to cause childhood obesity but instead carries a wide variety of health drinks. 54% of food sold at Walmart is not sold by Whole Foods since they do not meet its quality and health standards (Sarich, 2014). It also has its own label, 365 Everyday Value and is carried in all stores along with other exclusive local and independent brands. It carries a huge selection of cheese, wines and imported beers. Whole Foods does not carry products with hydrogenated fats, animals raised with antibiotics, caged hen eggs, products containing artificial flavors, colors and sweeteners (Whole Foods Market, 2015).

Whole Foods sells its products both in stores and online but majority of the purchases are made in store. They recently signed an exclusive partnership with Instacart and are now delivering groceries to their customers (del Rey, 2016). Whole Foods typically targets premium real estate and takes into consideration lot of criteria before zeroing on a place. An average store is about 35000–40000 square feet, with abundant parking space. A typical store has about 200,000 people living within 20-minute drive, have large number of college-educated residents, easy access to roadways and clear visibility of its signage (Whole Foods Market, Real Estate, n.d.). The two stores I have visited, in Fremont and Palo Alto meet these real estate requirements. Both are affluent suburbs with highly educated population.

Whole Foods Market is known for its premium pricing and has a moniker of Whole Paycheck (Jargon, 2013). Due to its high quality and strict adherence to standards, many of the products are expensive at Whole Foods compared to other supermarket chains. Although many of the regular customers of Whole Foods are not price sensitive, to attract customers from Trader Joes or Sprouts, Whole Foods is now offering more sales on it products than before. Its 365 Everyday Value label is comparatively cheaper than other named brands it carries in stores. They are also offering regular sales on various items including perishables, named brands and also on it own labels (Mohammed, 2015). At the entrance of the Whole Foods store at Fremont, they placed coupon books, which had coupons for that particular week. Various aisles were clearly marked in big yellow boards about the discounts. Banners were placed promoting its mobile app to download more coupons and budget friendly recipes.

Whole Foods Market has been generally averse to run ads in either print or visual media. They rely on their brand awareness to get customers to their stores and ensure that the shopping experience will entice the customers to come back. WFM’s marketing expenses has been less than 0.5% of sales for over past 10 years (Bells, 2015). The company did not even have a loyalty program until 2015 and still has developed a loyal customer following everywhere (Horovitz, 2014). The company relies a lot on word of mouth and social media. They have active marketing team on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with a combined reach of 11 million followers. The emphasis for marketing investments has been on community non-profit partnerships that help grow its business and local communities as well (Whole Foods Market, 2015). This was observed in stores too where focus of banners and on the signage was how Whole Foods is serving the local communities and about its partnerships with non-profits. Each store has its own promotion strategy. Bigger store in more upscale neighborhoods have digital signage and also weekend cooking classes with prominent chefs.

In 2015, the company has revised its marketing strategy after continuous losses and losing the customers to other chains like Costco and Target. For the first time in its history it started a national ad campaign with a budget of over $20 million to get new customers and also to retain its existing customer base (Dobrow, 2014). The focus of the ads is how values matter to Whole Foods and ethically it sources all its food for the greater good of the planet.

Recommendations

Whole Foods is perceived as a very expensive store and not many people are aware of various discounts and sales that happen at store. Regular customers of Trader Joes or Sprouts are not aware that some of the groceries are cheaper at Whole Foods (Mohammed, 2015). It needs to do a better marketing of its 365 Everyday Value brand and also about it weekly sales. Since Whole Foods is trying to target millenials, it can use social media to promote deals rather than traditional media.

Whole Foods needs to rollout its loyalty cards across all the stores. Currently it is being piloted only in few stores. Having loyalty cards and also showing how much the customers saved on their food basket will increase customer loyalty and also ensure that customers return for their weekly groceries. Whole Foods can also send monthly marketing emails, send mobile notifications to these customers of the current deals in stores. Without loyalty cards, sales and discounts do not usually bring back the customers. Whole Foods could also use its mobile app to increase the loyalty in its customers. Having a gamified app, with mobile ordering and mobile payments will increase the revenues as shown by Starbucks (Kell, 2015).

Whole Foods has to ensure that the newly opened stores for millenials entice new customers but not take away the customers from its existing stores. To prevent this, Whole Foods has to clearly communicate and market to the target groups what both these stores have to offer and how they are different from each other while having the same high quality organic products.

Whole Foods needs to aggressively market about it stringent quality standards. Other major supermarket chains are able to provide organic produce at lower price points since they do not follow the same standards as Whole Foods. The USDA rules about what gets classified as organic are hazy and many of the chains are carrying organic produce that may not be strictly organic. Whole Foods need to market that its products are healthier and worth buying. This also helps in maintaining its exclusive and premium brand and retain its wealthy customers.


What it's really like hunting for morel mushrooms in the wild

A slice of Domino’s “Hawaiian Hot Lava” pizza dotted with ham, bacon, jalapenos, hot sauce and mozzarella isn’t most people’s idea of a healthy kid’s meal. And yet the fast-food giant has been delivering to school districts for years.

Launched in 2011, the Domino’s Smart Slice program now supplies lunches to schools in 47 states including New York (though not New York City). And while slices boast whole-grain crusts and “light mozzarella cheese” to comply with USDA standards, they’re still heavily branded as Domino’s. Districts can even take part in a rewards program offering Domino’s hats, posters and gift cards.

Fast food has increasingly crept into public schools as they struggle to feed kids on a diminished federal budget. In many districts, the Walking Taco — a meal of chili and cheese served on a bed of Doritos chips — has become a staple. Papa John’s, Little Caesars and Pizza Hut also supply school lunches. And New York City students regularly enjoy Jamaican beef patties from local chain Golden Krust.

“We’re still teaching kids on a daily basis that foods branded with the names Pop-Tart, Cheetos, Funyuns and Domino’s are things that they can and should eat every day,” says Bettina Elias Siegel.

In her new book, “Kid Food: The Challenge of Feeding Children in a Highly Processed World” (Oxford University Press), out now, Siegel reveals how our kids are consuming unhealthy food in their own school cafeterias.

A mother of two and lawyer turned food-policy advocate, Siegel successfully petitioned the USDA in 2012 to stop providing schools with ground meat containing “lean, finely textured beef” — the easily contaminated slaughterhouse scraps known as “pink slime.”

After gathering more than a quarter of a million signatures and a good deal of media attention, the USDA changed its policy, but Siegel says there’s still a lot to be done when it comes to improving kids’ meals at school.

LIQUID LUNCH: Schools are required to offer low-fat and nonfat milks to students, but that doesn’t exclude chocolate milk, a cafeteria favorite that New York City schools are currently considering banning. Meanwhile, guidelines allow fruit juice to be served as a substitute for actual fruit and vegetables during half the school week.
SUGARY SNACKS: When dried sweetened cranberries were deemed too sugary to be served to kids at school, cranberry growers successfully lobbied the USDA for an exemption. Raisins that have been pumped full of citric acid and coated in sugar can be used to satisfy fruit requirements.
BAG OF TRICKS: Many schools now serve the “Walking Taco” — featuring chili and cheese on a bed of Doritos-branded chips cleverly formulated to meet nutrition standards. Meanwhile, Domino’s supplies its heavily branded pizzas to school districts in 47 states, including New York, and even offers a rewards program to schools, complete with branded hats, posters and gift cards. Tamara Beckwith/NY Post Food Stylist: Pearl Jones

“Too many American kids are . . . being served a lot of highly processed food in carnival-style menus that only reinforce poor eating habits outside of school,” she writes.

Prior to the 1970s, school lunches typically consisted of homestyle fare. As a child, Siegel remembers a lunch tray filled with meatloaf, green beans and fruit cocktail. Things shifted in the early and mid-1970s, when, in an effort to curtail food waste, children were first allowed to select three components of their lunch from five options, putting them in the driver’s seat. Those changes along with federal dollars being drastically cut — in 1981, the Reagan administration slashed school-lunch funding by $1.5 billion — dramatically altered the menu. Districts typically now have just $1 per child per meal to spend on food costs, while tasty, inexpensive fare such as pizza and corn dogs dominate.

“These profound shifts are evident in today’s school menus,” Siegel writes.

In 2010, Congress passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, spearheaded by Michelle Obama. The legislation strengthened nutritional guidelines — more fruits, veggies and whole grains less sodium and saturated fats — for all food sold in schools and boosted federal funding for schools that met the new standards.

“School meals were significantly improved by the new law. And since the majority of the 30 million kids who regularly eat those meals are economically disadvantaged, those changes were all the more critical,” Siegel writes. “But I’d also be lying if I told you America’s school food is now exactly where it should be.”

‘Cheese, flour and tomato paste wind up being served to kids in the form of a Conagra frozen pizza.’

Big Food has a long and ongoing history of skirting the rules. In 2011, new USDA standards tried to reduce the amount of white potatoes served in school lunches, but potato farmers successfully lobbied against them. And when dried sweetened cranberries were deemed too sugary, cranberry growers did the same. Now an exemption allows dried fruit with added sugar for “processing and/or palatability purposes.” Raisins pumped full of citric acid and coated in sugar so they taste like candy are also allowed under this exemption.

The rules can be twisted in ways that I don’t think match the intent of those rules,” Siegel says.

Fruit or vegetable juices are allowed as a substitute for actual fruit and veggies for half of the school week. Even frozen juice desserts can be used to satisfy nutrition requirements. “They’ll be bright blue or bright green,” she says. “They look exactly like a frozen sherbet or sorbet.”

After the USDA tried to close a loophole allowing schools to count 2 tablespoons of tomato paste on a pizza slice as an entire serving of vegetables, a group called the Coalition for Sustainable School Meal Programs — backed by major food conglomerates such as Conagra and Schwan’s — “vigorously lobbied” against the measure in 2011. Their campaign was successful.

It was yet another “jarring example of the industry putting profits over kids’ health,” Siegel writes.

School breakfasts are often worse than lunches, as they’re not required to contain a protein or vegetable. (They must offer fruit, whole grains, low-fat and nonfat milks, while sodium is limited and trans fats are banned.)

Last year, in Broward County, Florida, an elementary-school student could opt for a breakfast of sweetened yogurt with “chocolate crisps,” dried cranberries and chocolate milk, Siegel writes. (New York City is currently considering banning flavored milk.) Such a meal contains nearly 14 teaspoons of sugar, more than double the recommended daily amount for a child. According the USDA, nearly 15 million kids are served a school breakfast each day.

Why don’t schools just scrap their Big Food contracts and make meals from scratch? When they do, they face numerous obstacles. Roughly 20 percent of the ingredients in school lunches are considered “agriculture commodities,” such as grain or frozen produce, which are provided for free. But these commodities also require trained workers and equipment to be properly prepared, two things many schools lack.

In 2014, the Pew Charitable Trust surveyed US schools about what they needed to prepare better meals. Eighty-eight percent said they lacked basic equipment like knives and scales. Without these resources, it’s no wonder cafeterias often end up serving convenience foods.

“If you just have to put frozen chicken nuggets in a convection oven, you don’t need a lot of labor, you don’t need skilled labor,” Siegel says. “But if you’re asking people to wash and chop and prepare fresh food or to prepare raw poultry, which is a dicey proposition from a food-safety perspective, then you need skilled labor. And in many places, districts simply can’t afford enough skilled labor for scratch cooking.”

Siegel estimates roughly 50 percent of these staples are sent to outside manufacturers to prepare, including companies like Kraft Heinz and Del Monte. The raw ingredients that were supposed to be used to cook wholesome meals are often turned into processed foods. “Commodity chicken in the hands of Tyson becomes a breaded nugget or fried-chicken sandwich,” Siegel writes, “while commodity cheese, flour and tomato paste wind up being served to kids in the form of a Conagra frozen pizza.”

Another issue driving unhealthy eating, Siegel and many others believe, is that lunch periods today are shorter in the face of budget constraints, limited cafeteria space and a push for more academic time to raise test scores.

Children sometimes have just 20 minutes in total to line up, move through the cafeteria queue, find a seat, socialize and actually eat. With such time constraints, it’s much easier to shove down a piece of pizza than it is to nibble on a chicken breast and some salad. Younger kids often have lunch before recess, but studies have shown that kids who eat after playing are more willing to consume fruits and vegetables.

Given that tens of millions of kids, many of them from low-income households, rely on school meals, it’s crucial that they be improved, Siegel says. Parents need to advocate for longer lunch periods and more money for schools to prepare healthier fare, so that meals like the Walking Taco keep on walking out the door.


Contents

Early years Edit

In 1978, John Mackey and Renee Lawson borrowed $45,000 from family and friends to open a small vegetarian natural foods store called SaferWay in Austin, Texas (the name being a spoof of Safeway). When the two were evicted for storing food products in their apartment, they decided to live at the store. Because it was zoned for commercial use, there was no shower stall, so they bathed using a water hose attached to their dishwasher. [8] [9] [10]

Two years later, Mackey and Lawson partnered with Craig Weller and Mark Skiles to merge SaferWay with the latter's Clarksville Natural Grocery, resulting in the opening of the original Whole Foods Market, which included meat products. At 10,500 square feet (980 m 2 ) and with a staff of 19, the store was large in comparison to the standard health food store of the time. [11]

The following Memorial Day, on May 25, 1981, the most damaging flood in 70 years devastated Austin. Whole Foods' inventory was ruined, and most of the equipment was damaged. The loss was approximately $400,000 and Whole Foods Market had no insurance. Customers, neighbors, and staff assisted to repair and clean up the damage. Creditors, vendors, and investors assisted in helping recovery, and the store reopened 28 days later. [11]

Expansion Edit

Beginning in 1984, Whole Foods Market expanded out of Austin, first to Houston and Dallas and then into New Orleans with the purchase of The Whole Food Co. in 1988. In 1989, the company expanded to the West Coast with a store in Palo Alto, California.

The company made its initial public offering on January 23, 1992. [13]

While opening new stores, the company fueled rapid growth by acquiring other natural foods chains throughout the 1990s: Wellspring Grocery of North Carolina, Bread & Circus of Massachusetts and Rhode Island (banner retired in 2003), Mrs. Gooch's Natural Foods Markets of Los Angeles, [14] Bread of Life of Northern California, Fresh Fields Markets on the East Coast and in the Midwest, Florida Bread of Life stores, Detroit-area Merchant of Vino stores, and Nature's Heartland of Boston. [15] The company purchased Allegro Coffee Company in 1997. The company's 100th store was opened in Torrance, California, in 1999. [16]

The company started its third decade with additional acquisitions. The first was Natural Abilities in 2000, which did business as Food for Thought in Northern California. [17] After the departure of then company president Chris Hitt and regional president Rich Cundiff, Southern California region, John Mackey promoted A. C. Gallo, president of the Northeast region and Walter Robb, president of the Northern California region to co-COO and soon after added the titles of co-president. This led to the promotion of three new regional presidents and a new era for the company. David Lannon became president of the Northeast region, Anthony Gilmore became president of the Southwest region, Ron Megehan became president of the Northern California region. In 2001, Whole Foods also moved into Manhattan. [18] Later that year, Ken Meyer became president of the newly formed South region and Whole Foods Market acquired the assets of Harry's Farmers Market, which included three stores in Atlanta. [19] In 2002, the company continued its expansion in North America and opened its first store in Toronto, Ontario. [20] Further continuing its expansion, Select Fish of Seattle was acquired in 2003. [21]

In late 2004, it was reported that Whole Foods had "cleared $188 million in profits in the last two years." [22]

In 2005, Whole Foods opened its 80,000 sq ft (7,400 m 2 ) flagship store in downtown Austin. The company's headquarters moved into offices above the store. [23]

Whole Foods opened its first store in Hawaii in 2008 [24] and in 2008 it also opened a southeast distribution center in Braselton, Georgia, calling it the first "green distribution center" for the company. [25]

Along with new acquisitions, such as the 2014 purchase of seven Dominick's Finer Foods locations in Chicago, Whole Foods has also sold stores to other companies. [26] For example, 35 Henry's Farmers Market and Sun Harvest Market stores were sold to a subsidiary of Los Angeles grocer Smart & Final Inc. for $166 million in 2007. [27]

Whole Foods opened its second store in western New York in Amherst, a suburb of Buffalo in September 2017. [28]

As part of a streamlining campaign, in January 2017 the company reported that it would close three remaining regional kitchens in Everett, Landover and Atlanta. [29]

In June 2017, Amazon purchased Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion. [30] Amazon plans for Whole Foods customers who also have an Amazon prime account to be able to order groceries online and then pick them up in store for free. [31]

In January 2019, to fascilitate expansion into previously unserved areas, Amazon announced plans to acquire some former Sears and Kmart locations from Sears Holdings, which filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection on October 15, 2018. These vacant locations would be demolished or remodeled to create new Whole Foods Market locations. [32] [33]

In April 2019, Whole Foods opened its largest store in the Southeast in Midtown Atlanta. The three-level store has a burger restaurant, an Allegro Coffee shop and a rooftop terrace. [34]

International expansion Edit

Whole Foods entered the Canadian market in 2002 in Toronto. [35] In 2013, Whole Foods said it would open around 40 more stores in Canada over time. At the time, there were 9 Whole Foods in Canada. [36] By January 2017, Whole Foods had 467 stores, all of which were in the United States except 9 in the United Kingdom and 12 in Canada. In January 2017, Whole Foods announced it was canceling plans from 2015 and 2016 to open stores in Calgary and Edmonton. [37] Among the twelve were five each in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, and one each in Ottawa and Victoria. [37] In march 2020 there were 487 stores in the US, 14 in Canada and 7 in the UK. [6]

In 2004, Whole Foods Market entered the UK by acquiring seven Fresh & Wild stores. [15] [38] In June 2007, it opened its first full-size store, a total of 80,000 sq ft (7,400 m 2 ) on three levels, on the site of the old Barkers department store on Kensington High Street, West London and currently their largest store in the world. Company executives claimed that as many as forty stores might eventually be opened throughout the UK. [39] However, by September 2008, in the wake of Whole Foods Market's financial troubles, Fresh & Wild had been reduced to four stores, all in London. The flagship Bristol branch closed because it had "not met profitability goals". [40] In the year to September 28, 2008, the UK subsidiary lost £36 million due to a large impairment charge of £27 million and poor trading results due to the growing fears of global recession. [41] However, in 2011, global sales grew +8% each financial quarter as shoppers returned to the chain. [42] A first Scottish store was opened on November 16, 2011 in Giffnock, Glasgow. Whole Foods Market Inc. currently operates seven different Whole Foods locations: in Camden Town, Clapham Junction, Kensington, Piccadilly Circus, Richmond, Stoke Newington and Fulham. [43] Whole Foods closed its Giffnock and Cheltenham stores at the end of November 2017, under a rationalisation plan. [44] [45]

Acquisition of Wild Oats Markets and antitrust complaint Edit

On February 21, 2007, Whole Foods Market, Inc. and Wild Oats Markets Inc. announced the signing of a merger agreement under which Whole Foods Market, Inc. would acquire Wild Oats Markets Inc.'s outstanding common stock in a cash tender offer of $18.50 per share, or approximately $565 million based on fully diluted shares. Under the agreement, Whole Foods Market, Inc. would also assume Wild Oats Markets Inc.'s existing net debt totaling approximately $106 million as reported on September 30, 2006. [46]

On June 27, 2007, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued an administrative complaint challenging Whole Foods Market, Inc.'s acquisition of Wild Oats Markets Inc. According to the complaint, the FTC believed that the proposed transaction would violate federal antitrust laws by eliminating the substantial competition between two close competitors in the operation of premium natural and organic supermarkets nationwide. The FTC contended that if the transaction were to proceed Whole Foods Market would have the ability to raise prices and reduce quality and services. Both Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats stated their intention to vigorously oppose the FTC's complaint and a court hearing on the issue was scheduled for July 31 and August 1, 2007. CEO John Mackey started a blog on the subject to explain his opposition to the FTC's stance. Further blogging by Mackey was revealed when the FTC released papers detailing highly opinionated comments under the pseudonym "Rahodeb" that he made to the Whole Foods Yahoo! investment message board. This became the subject of an investigation when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) noted that Regulation Fair Disclosure law of 2000 may have been violated. [47] [48] The SEC cleared Mackey of the charges on April 25, 2008. [49]

On July 29, 2008, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned the district court's decision allowing the merger. The Court of Appeals ruled that "premium natural, and organic supermarkets" ("PNOS"), such as Whole Foods and Wild Oats, constitute a distinct submarket of all grocers. The court ruled that "mission driven" consumers (those with an emphasis on social and environmental responsibility) would be adversely affected by the merger because substantial evidence by the FTC showed that Whole Foods intended to raise prices after consummation of the merger. [50] As part of its effort to combat the ruling, Whole Foods subpoenaed financial records, market studies and future strategic plans belonging to New Seasons Market, a regional competitor based in the Portland area. [51] [52] In 2009 Whole Foods agreed to sell the Wild Oats chain. [53]

2017–present: Amazon subsidiary Edit

In February 2017, Whole Foods Market said it would close nine of its stores and lowered its financial projections for the year, as the natural-foods company struggled with increased competition and slowing sales growth. [ citation needed ] In late April 2017, Whole Foods reported their sixth consecutive quarter of declining sales, and announced that the company would be closing nine stores: two each in Colorado and California, and one each in Georgia, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Illinois. The loss of revenue was attributed to foot traffic being down and other supermarkets offering a similar experience for a lower cost. [54]

On June 15, 2017, Amazon announced it would acquire Whole Foods Market, [55] [56] adding some 400 physical stores to Amazon's e-commerce assets. [57] The purchase was valued at $13.7 billion, and caused Whole Foods's stock price to soar after the announcement was made. [58]

In 2018, Whole Foods Market announced its possible intention to take over some vacant Sears and Kmart stores and refurbish them after Sears Holdings Corporation, which owned both chains, filed for bankruptcy in October. [59]

Whole Foods Market only sells products that meet its self-created quality standards for being "natural", which the store defines as: minimally processed foods that are free of hydrogenated fats as well as artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, preservatives, and many others as listed on their online "Unacceptable Food Ingredients" list. [60] Whole Foods Market has also announced that it does not intend to sell meat or milk from cloned animals or their offspring, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ruled them safe to eat. [61] [62]

The company also sells many USDA-certified organic foods and products that aim to be environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible. Stores do not carry foie gras or eggs from hens confined to battery cages due to animal cruelty concerns, as a result of successful advocacy by animal welfare groups. The Whole Foods Market website details the company's criteria for selling food, dietary supplements, and personal care products. [60]

Until June 2011, body care products sold at Whole Foods Market could be marketed as organic even if they contained ingredients not listed by the USDA as acceptable for use in organic food. [63] "Products made using petroleum-derived and other synthetic or chemical ingredients, prohibited in organic foods, can be found among the organic shampoos and lotions made by Avalon, Nature's Gate, Jason Natural Cosmetics, Kiss My Face and other brands", said Urvashi Rangan, an environmental health scientist at Consumer Reports. This is because the federal guidelines that regulate organic food labeling do not apply to cosmetics. [64] Starting in June 2011, personal care products sold at Whole Foods Market were required to follow the same USDA National Organic Program standards for organic food. This required products labeled "Organic" to contain 95 percent or more certified organic ingredients. [63]

In a Wall Street Journal article in August 2009, John Mackey acknowledged that his company had lost touch with its natural food roots and would attempt to reconnect with the idea that health was affected by the quality of food consumed. He said "We sell a bunch of junk". He stated that the company would focus more on health education in its stores. [65] As of 2013, many stores have employed Healthy Eating Specialists which are team members who "answer customers’ healthy eating questions and can assist. in choosing the most nutrient-dense ingredients, suggest satisfying healthy recipes," and help "create a meal plan in keeping with your health goals." [66]

In an effort to allow their customers full-transparency in purchasing, Whole Foods Market has developed a number of in-store rating systems for various departments. The Seafood department has a Sustainability Rating System for wild-caught seafood [67] while farm-raised seafood has to meet aquaculture standards [68] both rated in accordance to third-party auditors. The Meat department has a rating system in partnership with the Global Animal Partnership based on animal welfare. [69] The produce department has a rating system based on farming practices which include measures of a farm's environmental, GMO transparency, worker safety and wage practices. [70] The grocery department has an Eco-scale rating system for its cleaning products which measures their environmental impact. [71] Each system is in place to allow customers to make the most educated choices within Whole Foods Market. There are efforts to create more rating systems in other departments. [72]

Whole Foods Market has announced plans to provide its customers GMO (genetically modified organism) product labeling by 2018. [73] Efforts of GMO transparency run the gamut of each department. For years, Non-GMO Project Verified items have been sought in Grocery. [73] While efforts continue in Produce, Whole Foods recommends buying organic or referring to their "Responsibly Grown produce rating system [which] requires growers to disclose use of GMO seeds or plant material." [73] In Seafood, plans are being made to launch a Non-GMO Project Verification process for farm-raised fish. [73] Currently, there are no USDA Organic regulations for farmed seafood. [74]

Whole Foods Market purchases products for retail sale from local, regional, and international wholesale suppliers and vendors. The majority of purchasing occurs at the regional and national levels to negotiate volume discounts with major vendors and distributors. Regional and store buyers are focused on local products and any unique products necessary to ensure a neighborhood market feel in the stores. Whole Foods says that the company is committed to buying from local producers that meet its quality standards while also increasingly focusing more of their purchasing on producer- and manufacture-direct programs. [75] Some regions have an employee known as a "forager", whose sole duty is to source local products for each store. [76]

Whole Trade Guarantee Edit

In April 2007, Whole Foods Market launched the Whole Trade Guarantee, a purchasing initiative emphasizing ethics and social responsibility concerning products imported from the developing world. The criteria include fair prices for crops, environmentally sound practices, better wages and labor conditions for workers and the stipulation that one percent of proceeds from Whole Trade certified products go to the Whole Planet Foundation to support micro-loan programs in developing countries. The company's goal, published in 2007, is to have at least half of its imported products from these countries fully certified by 2017. [77] [78]

Whole Foods Market has a policy of donating at least five percent of its annual net profits to charitable causes. Some of this mandate is accomplished through store level donations held on certain "5% days" throughout the year. The rest of it comes from various targeted projects by the company. [79]

Environmental involvement Edit

In May 1999, Whole Foods Market joined the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a global independent, not-for-profit organization promoting sustainable fisheries and responsible fishing practices worldwide to help preserve fish stocks for future generations. [80] The company first began selling MSC-certified seafood in 2000, and a growing selection of MSC-certified fish continues to be available. [81]

Whole Foods placed third on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of the "Top 25 Green Power Partners". The company also received the EPA Green Power Award in 2004 and 2005 and Partner of the Year award in 2006 and 2007. [82] A January 8, 2007, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report listed Whole Foods Market as the second-highest purchaser of green power nationwide, citing its actions as helping drive the development of new renewable energy sources for the electricity generation. The EPA report showed Whole Foods Market using 463.1 million kilowatt hours annually. It was covered, 100 percent net-wise, by its total electricity from biomass, geothermal, small-hydro, solar, and wind sources. [83]

Whole Foods signed an agreement with SolarCity to install solar panels on up to 100 stores. [84]

Eliminating plastic Edit

In January 2008, Whole Foods Market was the first U.S. supermarket to commit to completely eliminating disposable plastic grocery bags to help protect the environment and conserve resources, and many stores serve as a collection point for shoppers to recycle their plastic bags. [85]

On Earth Day, April 22, 2008, the chain eliminated the use of disposable plastic grocery bags company-wide at point-of-purchase [86] in favor of reusable bags or paper bags made from recycled paper. The company also began offering "Better Bags", a large and colorful grocery bag made primarily from recycled bottles. The move from the traditional paper/plastic system to reusable bags has been packaged as an initiative the company calls "BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag". [87] The campaign is aimed at reducing pollution by eliminating plastic bags and reducing waste by encouraging bag reuse with "bag refunds" of 5–10 cents, depending on the store.

It still, however, offers single-use plastic bags in its produce department, and does little to discourage persistent use by both customers and Amazon Prime Now shoppers alike. [88]

Humane treatment of animals Edit

In 2002, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals began petitioning Whole Foods to take steps to ensure the improvement of treatment of animals sold in the stores.

Whole Foods created the Animal Compassion Foundation in January 2005, on December 5 2014 the organization [89] registration was canceled nonprofit organization, to help other producers evolve their practices to raise animals naturally and humanely. According to Whole Foods Natural Meat Quality Standards and Animal Compassionate Standards, pulling feathers from live ducks, bill trimming, bill heat treatment, toe punching, slitting the webs of the feet, and toe removal are all prohibited in the raising of ducks for Whole Foods Market. Any ducks treated in this manner, treated with antibiotics or antimicrobials, cloned, genetically modified, or not allowed medical treatment when necessary are to be removed from Whole Foods Market stock. [62]

Toxins Edit

In January 2004, in California, the Environmental Working Group and the Center for Environmental Health presented a notice of intent to file an anti-toxin lawsuit against salmon producers. This was in large part due to Whole Foods' involvement, including highlighting companies' failure to warn consumers the fish contained potentially dangerous levels of cancer-causing chemicals known as PCBs. [90] [ better source needed ]

In February 2006, shareholders of Whole Foods filed a resolution asking Whole Foods to report toxic chemicals found in its products. [91] Substances such as Bisphenol A (BPA), found in products such as baby bottles and children's cups, are controversial. Whole Foods no longer sells baby bottles and children's cups made with BPA. [92]

In the wake of concern over the safety of seafood imports from China, on July 10, 2007, The Washington Post reported that Whole Foods imports a small amount of frozen shrimp from China, accounting for less than 2% of the company's total seafood sales. A Whole Foods spokesperson addressed the issue, saying "We're not concerned about the less than 2 percent. It's business as usual for us." [93]

Whole Foods Market is considered anti-labor by most worker organizations and has been criticized that its products may not be as progressive as they are touted to be. Author Michael Pollan has contended that the supermarket chain has done well in expanding the organic market but has done so at the cost of local foods, regional producers, and distributors. [94] Parts of the debate have taken place publicly through a series of letters between Pollan and Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey. [95]

Whole Foods announced in June 2006 that it would stop selling live lobsters and crabs, but in February 2007 made an exception for a Portland, Maine store for its ability to meet "humane standards". The lobsters are kept in private compartments instead of being piled on top of one another in a tank, and employees use a device that gives them a 110-volt shock so that they are not boiled alive in a pot of water. [96] This decision was criticized by ex-lobsterman Trevor Corson as damaging a New England tradition and as removing people's connection to where their food actually comes from. [97]

Ronnie Cummins, national director of the United States Organic Consumers Association, opined that "Whole Foods Market now is a big-box retailer – and it's much more concerned about competing with the other big boxes than issues of ethics and sustainability." [98] Similarly, researcher Stacy Mitchell of the New Rules Project argues that the corporation's aggressive marketing of local food is more hype than substance. [99]

Whole Foods has frequently been the subject of resistance or boycotts in response to proposed store locations. [100] [101] [102] [103] The corporation has also been criticized for its aggressive policy of promoting its own in-house brands (e.g. 365) at the expense of smaller or local independent brands. [99]

On August 11, 2009, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey published an editorial in The Wall Street Journal criticizing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [104] the editorial was controversial in the natural foods community. [105]

The company has created other controversies at various times involving business practices, labor issues, product selection, and failure to support farmers and suppliers. [106] In March 2013, Whole Foods promised to label GMO-containing products in North American stores by 2018. [107] The company has drawn criticism for questionable science behind the claims of benefit of its products, [108] [109] including encouraging and selling drugs that are described to work under homeopathic principles.

In 2013, two workers in Albuquerque, New Mexico were suspended for speaking Spanish. The resulting investigation revealed that Whole Foods has a policy of speaking "English to customers and other Team Members while on the clock". [110] [111] The company soon revised its policy. [112]

In 2014, the company agreed to pay an $800,000 settlement in response to allegations that its California stores were charging more per weight than what its labels indicated. [113] Whole Foods continued this practice despite the settlement, with investigators alleging thousands of continued violations well into 2015. [114] In 2015, the CEOs made a public admission of this happening in New York after a New York City Department of Consumer Affairs investigation. [115]

Whole Foods has faced lawsuits in California over the presence of carcinogens. In March 2008, following a study by the Organic Consumers Association, reports of high levels of 1,4-Dioxane found in body care products at Whole Foods, prompted the Attorney General of California to file a lawsuit against the company for a violation of Proposition 65. [116] Civil penalties of up to $2,500 a day were expected to be awarded. The action claimed that 365 along with brands sold by other cosmetic companies did not include a label warning about the chemical spokesperson Libba Letton stated that the company did "not believe that these products represent a health risk or are in excess of California's Proposition 65 Safe Harbor level for 1,4-Dioxane" while consumer activist David Steinman urged them "to stop treating the inclusion of cancer-causing chemicals in their products as 'business as usual'". [116] [117] Proposition 65 was invoked again in 2013 when the state sued Whole Foods and other retailers over the presence of lead in certain candies. [118]

In May 2014, Whole Foods launched a pilot program to sell rabbit meat in 5 of its 12 market regions. [119] Because domestic rabbits are the eighth most common pet in the United States [120] as well as an animal rescued and sheltered alongside cats and dogs, this decision triggered a nationwide boycott of Whole Foods by the vegetarian activist House Rabbit Society and their supporters. [121] In June 2014 Whole Foods awarded a financial grant to Oz Family Farms, [122] a family-owned rabbit meat business.

In January 2015, a group of activists organized under the network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) released a video of laying hens from a Northern California farm that supplies eggs to Whole Foods. In the video, which featured footage of crowded, dirty henhouses and injured birds, DxE contended that the hens' welfare was severely compromised, even though numerous boards had labeled the farm as "Certified Humane". [123]

In 2015, animal rights groups People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Direct Action Everywhere released investigations criticizing Whole Foods animal welfare standards and accusing Whole Foods suppliers of animal cruelty. [124] [125] After the release of its investigation, PETA reversed its previous support for Whole Foods' animal welfare rating system, writing that "Under the guise of compassion, Whole Foods is profiting from violence against animals." [126] PETA co-founder Ingrid Newkirk criticized Whole Foods' animal welfare approach based on the DxE and PETA investigations, arguing that supposed welfare failures indicate a need for animal rights rather than welfare. [127] [128] Whole Foods has come under harsh criticism from abolitionist vegans such as Gary L. Francione who view the company's policies as a betrayal of the animal rights position. [129]

In January 2016, SJ Collins Enterprises, a developer who often works with Whole Foods, petitioned the Sarasota County board of county commissioners to allow the removal of a 5-acre protected wetlands [130] [131] so that they could build a surface parking lot for a planned Whole Foods shopping center and Wawa gas station at the intersection of University Parkway and Honore Avenue. The county commission voted 4–1 to allow the re-zoning and accept 41 acres of replacement wetlands. [132] The lone commissioner voting against the proposal, Charles Hines, stated that approval of the petition could create a domino effect leading to the destruction of other protected areas. [133] [134] [135]

In June 2016, US food safety inspectors warned the company that violations discovered at Whole Foods' Everett, Massachusetts plant could result in food being "contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health." [29]

In April 2018, Whole Foods Market faced social media backlash over the opening of the third location of the independent restaurant chain, "Yellow Fever", in a Whole Foods 365 store in Long Beach, California for possible racist undertones. [136]

In April 2020, Business Insider revealed extensive monitoring of stores to identify and target unionization, using a metric based on racial diversity, employee loyalty, turnover and more. [137]

In June 2020, two Whole Foods employees said they were sent home for wearing masks that stated "I can't breathe" and "Black Lives Matter." [138] A Whole Foods spokesperson stated that, "[a]ll Whole Foods Market Team Members have signed acknowledgments of our longstanding company dress code, which prohibits any visible slogans, messages, logos or advertising that are not company-related, on any article of clothing, including face masks." [138]

In November 2020, Whole Foods banned Canadian employees from wearing a Remembrance Day poppy, the national symbol of remembrance worn by Canadians on Remembrance Day. [139] [140] On November 6, 2020, the House of Commons of Canada unanimously adopted a motion "to condemn Whole Foods and its owner Jeff Bezos for banning its employees from wearing poppies on their uniform". [141] The same day, Whole Foods reversed its policy, saying “Given the learnings of today, we are welcoming Team Members to wear the poppy pin in honour of Remembrance Day.” [142]

Whole Foods Market was included in Fortune magazine's annual list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" [143] yearly from the list's inception in 1998 to being placed number 44 in 2014. [144] The chain has also won a number of awards for social responsibility including a first-place ranking by Harris Interactive / The Wall Street Journal in 2006 [145] and British trade magazine The Grocer named it the "World's Greatest Food Retailer" the same year. [146] [147] It has received past spots on the "100 Best Corporate Citizens" list published by Corporate Responsibility Officer. [148] In 2014, Supermarket News ranked Whole Foods number 19 on its list of "Top 75 North American Retailers."

Among its core values, the company lists "supporting team member happiness and excellence". [149] The company maintains that its treatment of workers obviates the need for labor unions: At its U.S. stores, after 800 service hours, full-time workers are given an option to purchase health insurance coverage starting at $20 per paycheck for themselves, and spouse and dependent coverage for an additional charge. [150] Workers also have access to a company-funded personal wellness account, and the starting pay at most stores is highly competitive. [151]

Whole Foods' health insurance plan is notable for its high deductibles – $2000 for general medical expenses, and $1000 for prescriptions. However, employees receive $300 to $1800 per year (depending on years of service) in personal wellness funds. Once an employee has met the deductibles, insurance covers 80% of general medical costs and prescriptions but not for any type of mental illness. [152] CEO Mackey drew attention to the insurance program (offered through United Health Care in the US) for its employees in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. [104] In the article he called his company's insurance plan a viable alternative to "Obamacare". Mackey summed up his antipathy toward universal coverage in his op-ed by stating:

A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That's because there isn't any. This "right" has never existed in America.

A "Boycott Whole Foods" page on Facebook was created in response to John Mackey's position on health care. [153]

Mackey, a libertarian, believes that unions facilitate an adversarial relationship between management and labor. [10] [154] An attempt at unionizing in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2002 was met with resistance from store management and Whole Foods was accused by labor activists of union busting. Employees at the Madison store voted in favor of unionization. Whole Foods then refused to bargain with their employees. After a year, the company moved to decertify the union. Further attempts at unionizing Whole Foods Market stores have been unsuccessful. Whole Foods launched a nationwide campaign, requiring workers to attend "Union Awareness Training," complete with Power Point presentations. [155]

Whole Foods was criticized for its refusal to support a campaign by the United Farm Workers (UFW) on behalf of agricultural workers laboring on strawberry farms. [156] During the late 1990s, the UFW persuaded several large supermarket chains to sign a pledge in support of improved wages and working conditions for strawberry pickers. Whole Foods chose instead to support the farm workers indirectly by holding a "National 5% Day" where five percent of that day's sales – $125,000 – was donated to organizations which provide social services to farmworkers. [157]

On September 28, 2015, Whole Foods announced layoffs of 1,500 jobs, which is 1.6 percent of its workforce, in an effort to lower prices. The eliminated jobs would come from regional and store positions over the next two months. [158]

Whole Foods hired the Labor Relations Consulting or "union busting" company Kulture Consulting, LLC on May 23, 2016. This was in response to a union election at a Whole Foods distribution center in Florida. [159] A member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) wrote that Kulture's CEO and founder Peter List had "in his effort to 'persuade' workers. engaged in 'patently unlawful' activities" during a 2007 organizing campaign. [160]

In September 2019, Whole Foods announced it will cut the health benefits of part-time workers, which will affect 2% of the workforce, or 1,900 employees. [161]

Employee structure and culture Edit

Whole Foods Market consists of twelve geographic regions, each with its own president, regional administrative team, store-level leadership, and store-level team members. A 4-tier hierarchy of employment exists within the Whole Foods Company: Store Employment, Facilities Employment, Regional Offices, and Global Headquarters.

Employee benefits and incentives Edit

To help employees learn about products, the company has instituted a mentoring program and developed an online portal called "Whole Foods Market University" to aid in training. Internal parlance refers to "team leaders" as opposed to "managers" and stores sometimes offer prizes for competing teams. [162] A 2014 analysis of 2012 figures found that Whole Foods Market was "among the least generous companies" in terms of its 401(k) savings program. [163]

Whole Foods Market has an employee discount while all employees are provided a standard base discount rate of 20% on all store purchases, higher rates, up to 30%, can be earned based upon employee physical fitness health tests that are given yearly. [164] These fitness exams are taken at the option of the employee.

Company structure Edit

In total, Whole Foods Market is composed of seventeen companies, each specializing in a different product. In the 1990s, while new stores were being opened, other natural food chain stores were being acquired for horizontal integration. This led to the Federal Trade Commission challenging the eventual merger with Wild Oats on the basis that it violated antitrust laws, essentially eliminating competition and inflating prices in the health foods market. [165]

Subsidiary companies and suppliers Edit

Whole Foods Market is based on a system of decentralized buying. Each vendor is approved at the regional level for corporate standards such as being non-GMO and fair trade. [166] Individual stores then decide which approved products to stock. They have a rolling ten-year distribution arrangement with UNFI. [167]

In June 2015, the company announced a millennial-focused, and more affordable version of its regular stores, called "365 By Whole Foods Market". [169] [170] [171] In addition to using digital price tags, in-store communication will largely be done through a smartphone app. In addition, the stores will have the goal of zero waste, donating all leftover food and using LED lights, as well as carbon dioxide-powered refrigeration cases. [172] Jeff Turnas is president of the division. [173]

To cut costs, customers unload bulkier products directly off a pallet. [174] Some items, like produce, are priced per item instead of by weight. For items that are sold by weight, the customers weigh, barcode, and tag those items before they reach the check-out counter. Unlike the regular stores, the 365 stores offer a rewards program. [175]

The first 365 By Whole Foods Market store opened in May 2016 in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. [176] [177] [178] A second location opened two months later in Lake Oswego, Oregon, [174] [179] followed by a third store two months after that in Bellevue, Washington. [180] [181] In April 2017, a fourth location opened in Cedar Park, Texas. [182] [183] In August 2017, a fifth location was opened in Santa Monica, California. [184] [185] In September 2017, a sixth location was opened in Akron, Ohio. [186] In January 2018, a seventh location was opened in Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. [187] The eighth location for the chain was opened in April 2018 in Long Beach, California, [188] followed by the opening of the ninth location a month later in Upland, California. [189] [190] A tenth store was opened in the Independence Heights district of Houston, Texas, in August 2018. [191] In December 2018, the eleventh and twelfth stores were opened at almost the same time in the Buckhead district of Atlanta and in Decatur, Georgia. [168]

There were other future locations that would include five 365 stores in Illinois, [192] Indiana, [193] [194] Ohio, Georgia, and Florida. [175]

Although there were as many as twenty two 365 stores under various stages of construction by early July 2017, progress at most of these construction sites came to a halt upon the news of the possible acquisition of the parent company by Amazon and there was no information at the time if and when the construction at any of the building sites would resume. [195] [196] [197] As a result of the firm's merger with Amazon, Whole Foods canceled the continuation of work at the construction sites for at least two 365 stores. In January 2018, the Fresh Thyme Farmers Market chain announced that they were taking over the abandoned 365 store construction site at College Mall in Bloomington, Indiana to open a second Bloomington-area store. [198] In the same month, the City of Los Alamitos, California, announced the abandonment of a shopping development that would have been anchored by a 365 store. [199]

In reviewing the new retail format, a reporter for The Motley Fool wrote that the new stores were "closer to a combination of a fruit stand, convenience store, and a restaurant than a traditional grocery store" [200] while a MarketWatch reporter called them "hipster havens" due to their use of high tech as a cost-cutting and efficiency measure. [201] Most reviews were very positive, although some customers said that they missed talking to actual people when placing food orders via tablets. [202] Other countries have tried following suite to as Nigeria Largest country in Africa have one DayDone brings farm produce to doorstep.

In January 2019, it was announced that the 365 by Whole Foods Market concept would be discontinued, but the existing locations would remain open for the moment. [203] The following month, it was announced that all existing 365 stores would be converted into regular Whole Foods stores by the end of the year. [204]


Related Items

1 Not Easing Into Plant-Based Eating

Oftentimes, an alarming headline about climate change, a documentary about factory farming, or an unexpected health scare can motivate someone to go fully plant-based overnight. “While we know that a plant-based diet is a healthy, sustainable, and compassionate way to eat, making changes abruptly may not be the best course of action,” says Dr. Shah. “For starters, if you are someone who eats a low-fiber diet, increasing fiber too quickly can lead to GI upset.” Additionally, an initial burst of enthusiasm can fade if you put too much pressure on yourself and your family to make changes all at once. Instead, the experts recommend moving forward at a pace that seems reasonable. Remember, you are in it for the long haul.

2 Obsessing Over Protein

Where do you get your protein? is likely the most common question posed to those following a plant-based diet. “What comes as a surprise to many people is that vegetarians and vegans almost always meet or exceed the RDA for protein,” explains Davis. “Omnivores tend to consume close to double the RDA. This applies to children as well. One of the great benefits of getting protein from plants is that it supports health and longevity better than protein from animal foods.” Many of the veggie substitutes for meat, chicken, and fish contain about the same amount of protein as the animal products they are replacing. Other protein-rich plant foods include lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh, seeds, and nuts.

3 Not Considering Potential Nutritional Shortfalls

Our dietary guidelines and food fortification systems are based on diets that include a significant amount of animal products. “While most major dietetic and medical organizations support the claim that well-planned plant-based diets are safe and adequate during all stages of the life cycle, this does not mean that we don’t have to consider specific nutrients such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, and iron (all of which can be nutrients of concern for those following an omnivorous diet as well) as well as other nutrients including iodine and omega-3 fatty acids,” Davis explains. With a little bit of care, but not too much fuss, a well-planned plant-based diet can cover all of our nutritional bases through a combination of plant foods, fortified foods, and supplements when indicated.

4 Replacing Seafood and Eggs With Pasta and Bagels

According to Dr. Shah, replacing animal products with refined carbohydrates does little to ensure nutritional adequacy of the diet or minimize the chronic disease risk. “While pasta and bagels can be a part of a healthy diet, we want to be sure to replace animal products, such as meat, poultry, and fish, with foods that provide protein, iron, and zinc,” she says. This means including legumes and products made from legumes (e.g., tofu, veggie meat alternatives) as well as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

5 Avoiding Fortified Foods

Sometimes, in an effort to eat plant-based whole foods, we may avoid foods that have added nutrients such as fortified non-dairy milks. “It can be much easier to achieve the RDA for calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D when we do include these fortified products,” Davis explains. Remember that most omnivores drink vitamin D-fortified cow’s milk, eat grains that are fortified with folic acid, and consume iodized salt. Including fortified foods can help fill gaps that can occur in different dietary patterns.

6 Not Finding a Sense of Community and Support

“When you make a dietary shift that is different than that of the people in your circle of family and friends, it can feel quite isolating,” says Dr. Shah. Connecting with a community that shares similar values around food choices can be a source of education, inspiration, and companionship.

7 Focusing on Perfection Over Progress

Perfection is overrated. Every small step you take on a path to a more ecologically sustainable, kinder, more healthful way of eating is a step worth celebrating. Be patient with yourself, and with your family. We all need to move at a pace that feels safe and comfortable to us.


What You Can’t Eat on The Daniel Fast

Meat & Eggs: Animal protein of any kind is not allowed during the three-week fasting plan, and meat is specifically avoided in the Book of Daniel. Instead, participants are encouraged to obtain protein from legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

Dairy: Dairy is also not allowed on this diet, but you can substitute unprocessed or homemade non-dairy milks in recipes.

Considering a plant-based diet? Here’s what to know first:

Processed Foods: Any food that is processed beyond packaging is pretty much off limits on The Daniel Fast. This includes fried foods, many frozen products, and even most vegan-friendly packaged foods. This diet is all about emphasizing whole, unprocessed foods, so you’ll even need to ditch your veggie burgers, unless you can make one from-scratch with approved ingredients.

Our 20-Minute Black Bean Burger recipe can be adapted by replacing an egg with a 𠇏lax egg.” Mix one tablespoon of flax meal with three tablespoons of water, set in the fridge for five to ten minutes, and you have a flax egg!

Sweeteners: We aren’t just talking sugar here, but also maple syrup, honey, and other natural sweeteners. Fruit should be your only source of sweetener here. Dates are a great option for adding sweetness to meals, and mashed banana also is a great way to sweeten a bowl of oatmeal in the mornings.

Chewing Gum & Mints: Since processed foods are not on the list of approved foods, you can assume fruit is your only dessert option for 21 days. Gum and mints—which often contain zero grams of sugar𠅊re no exception on The Daniel Fast. Make sure to read nutrition facts and ingredient lists closely, as the majority of brands are made with chemical additives and sugar alcohols.

Solid Fats: Butter, ghee, margarine, lard, and other shortenings are all off the list for three weeks, so investing in a good-quality vegetable oil will be worth your while. The only exception for solid fats here would be a nut or seed butter, as long as the nut or seed is the only ingredient.

Beverages: Water is the only beverage allowed on The Daniel Fast, meaning you might want to hide the coffee pot for a few weeks. Wine, juices, kombucha, soda, you name it—not allowed. Even flavored seltzer water, such as LaCroix isn’t allowed, due to the flavoring agents. While drinking only water for 21 days can seem boring, you can easily jazz it up by adding fruits and herbs. Check out our favorite infused water recipes, here.


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