Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Why I hate Whole Foods

Warning: this is a rant. I try not to rant often, but when I feel like the cause is important enough, I just need to let it all out. In this case, the cause is to inform you of some things you might not know about one of our favorite grocery stores.

So here, at last, is my Whole Foods horror story. To be sure, I had had several bad experiences at Whole Foods previously:

  • In 2005, I splurged on some "natural" ground pork for dumplings. The meat looked fine, but after I laboriously made the dumplings and tried to cook them, I found that it to be tough, gamey, and extremely strange. I boiled the dumplings as usual and found the meat to be still be very raw inside, so I boiled, and boiled, and added more water, and boiled .. and after an hour .. it was still pink and raw-ish inside! Valliantly attempting to salvage the two pounds of meat and all of my labor, I tried frying the dumplings, deep-frying .. but nothing worked. It was just inedible. I still don't know what was wrong with the meat - was it from a disesased or geriatric animal? Was it doctored? I should have returned it to the store, but that was before I developed a sense of outrage.
  • In 2006, a deli worker coughed directly on an order of sliced meat (right in front of us) and tried to give it to us anyway.
  • Also in 2006, I was about to splurge again on some steak. I got two steaks that ended up totalling almost 30 dollars, but as I walked away from the meat counter I found that they were already significantly brown and returned them. For the price they were charging, they should not be selling anything that was not at the peak of freshness.
  • At several locations both in California and the Boston area, I have generally found the staff at Whole Foods to be indifferent and sometimes even rude. This is surprising given Whole Foods' reputation for offering the highest wages in the industry along with great benefits, but the staff are certainly not nearly as friendly or helpful as the folks at Trader Joe's.

But somehow, I wrote off the above incidents as flukes and still believed Whole Foods to be a reputable retailer that would not knowingly sell defective products to consumers. Given the extremely high prices Whole Foods charges, though, I only shopped there for special items I couldn't find anywhere else. When I was organizing a chocolate tasting in April, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try some of the delicious-looking chocolates in the glass display case by the bakery at the Whole Foods at the Charles River Plaza in Boston. The store offered chocolates from high-end chocolatiers Christopher Norman and Knipschildt for $45 / lb, and I bought a wide selection from both brands.

And the chocolates were utterly disgusting. Now, I have eaten a lot of chocolate in my day, and admittedly, I've even kept home-made and store-bought chocolates long past their "best-by" dates. I have kept chocolates in the refrigerator for a year and still enjoyed them. I hate wasting food so much, I even scrape mold off of bread and pick bugs out of rice and still eat it. But even I draw the line somewhere. These $45/lb chocolates were stale at best and inedible at worst. Across the board, the fillings were desiccated with cracks on the inside, indicating that they had been kept out too long. The white chocolates and cream fillings were all rancid with weird combinations of jarring astringency and offensive sulfurousness, and most of the flavors from both brands were indistinguishable from each other, sharing a uniform rancidity. Some of them literally tasted like shit. Now, I have eaten many, many bonbons in my life of varying origin and repute, and I can tell you with near certainty that my perception of these chocolates was not a matter of preference, taste, or snobbery - they were just spoiled. Unfortunately, in my naivete and utter shock I forgot to take photographic evidence of the offensive confections.

Thinking back, I don't think I ever saw another person actually purchasing chocolates from the display case, and with all that lighting and an un-refrigerated case, it's not hard to imagine how the chocolates became spoiled. I just don't think it's unreasonable to expect a store selling chocolates at such an incredible premium to ensure utmost freshness and quality.

But it gets worse - the worst part of the experience was not even the spoiled chocolates themselves, but the reaction of Whole Foods to the incident. I returned the chocolates the next day (along with with the rest of the chocolate I had purchased from Whole Foods). Now, I have never, ever returned food that was not spoiled to a supermarket, but I was just so disgusted by the display-case chocolates that I could not stomach serving any chocolates from Whole Foods to a crowd at an event I was organizing. I did feel bad about returning the bars and feves, but my disgust was visceral.

The product return process was extremely onerous and took about 20 minutes. To top it all off, the man who helped me had a very bad attitude and belittled me for returning the chocolate. I tried several times to tell him that the chocolates were spoiled and that he should check all of the chocolates in the case, but he just glared at me and said "It's okay, you can change your mind any time", dismissing my concerns as mere capriciousness. In an attempt to dissuade me from returning them, he also told me that all of the unopened bars would be thrown in the trash, which he didn't do and which I somehow doubt actually happened.

That same day, I sent emails to the local store, Whole Foods headquarters, and the two chocolate-makers. I soon got an email back from a store manager at the Charles River Plaza store who told me he personally checked each of the chocolates and they were, in his words, perfect. Although there is always room for disagreement, and I am usually willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, I place a vanishingly small probability on those chocolates being fresh and "perfect." To placate me, he also sent me a $50 gift certificate, which I sold on Craig's list and donated the proceeds to two African women on I also got an immediate response from Christopher Norman, and they assured me they would follow up on the complaint, although I didn't hear from them again. Kindly, they also sent me a complimentary box of their chocolates, and although they tasted rather commercial (with a long list of ingredients including corn syrup, flavorings, and artificial colors), they were certainly decent and nothing like the chocolates I had from Whole Foods. I never received a response from Knipschildt, but I had previously received a box of their white chocolate mint ganache truffles as a gift and they were delicious. However, their customer service in this case is a little lacking.

This incident has utterly soiled Whole Foods's reputation in my mind. It is one thing to sell spoiled product, but the response I received indicates much bigger problems of accountability, governance, and corporate culture. Therefore, it was no surprise when I herd of the recent scandal involving CEO John Mackey, who posted anonymous online attacks on Wild Oats Markets just before Whole Foods made a bid for it. Although initially dismissive of his behavior as a bit of "fun", Macky today issued an unconvincing pro-forma apology:

I sincerely apologize to all Whole Foods Market stakeholders for my error in judgment in anonymously participating on online financial message boards. I am very sorry and I ask our stakeholders to please forgive me.

To me, Mackey's terrible behavior and unrepentant attitude fits with my experience of Whole Foods as a company which markets itself on corporate, environmental, and social responsibility but acts contrary to this philosophy in practice, acting responsibly solely as a way to build its image. We should all be wise enough to know that Whole Foods is not our friend, and neither is any publicly-listed firm which must abide by fiduciary duty and the demands of the market. But Whole Foods's hypocrisy in pretending to be responsible and subverting of our trust is what makes it in my mind, one of the most pernicious corporations in America. Here is more on my take on good and evil in the corporate world.

Whole Foods Evil Watch
  • Although it prominently displays messages of sustainability and purports to support the small farmers of America, much of the produce at Whole Foods is not organic at all, and it purchases the vast majority of its organic inventory from one of the handfull of huge industrial organic operations. Moreover, store displays often misleadly conflate conventional and organic produce. See this insighful article for more details.
  • A big part of Whole Foods's success comes from making us feel like we're making a responsible choice for the environment, for farmers, and for society, but in reality the premiums we're paying doesn't go toward environmental or social causes, but into corporate coffers. Whole Foods's strategy is a typical one of price discrimination, when products with only nominal differents are sold in order to pick off the customers who are willing to pay more versus pennypinchers like me. In reality, only pennies of the huge premiums we pay on products with organic or fair-trade actually go to farmers or earth-friendly pesticides. So although most Whole Foods consumers probably don't realize it, we're just paying for self-righteousness. My concern is not that Whole Foods achieves one of the highest profit margins in the retail industry (35%), but that it deceives us and exploits our good-will to do so.
  • I think the recent revelations about John Mackey speak for themselves, but on top of that debacle he has also mislead the public about his own salary. Whole Foods has widely advertised that the CEO makes only 14 times that of the average worker, a relatively small pay gap by today's standards. But that's only true if you don't count stock options, which typically make up a large fraction of executive pay packages. In 2005, he actually received $2.7 million including options, 84 times the salary of the average worker, with another $4.4 in vested options . Now, a lot of CEOs make much more than that, but there's no excuse for lying about it.


Steve said...

Interesting as I am experiencing something similar here in New York City with Whole Foods. Buying prepared foods at WF is a crap shoot which I seem to be losing each time I do it. Their fish is often spoiled. I must say the packaging of the operation is superb but if I'm any indication of the average customer, if WF doesn't get its act together I think more and more people are going to start talking about the same bad experiences and pretty soon its going to become apparent that WF has a real problem ...

Anonymous said...

I just finished a mac and cheese / chicken meal from the Whole Foods on Houston and Bowery in New York and my stomach is churning.

JW said...

Yes, for me the lesson is not just that Whole Foods can have spotty quality and rude staff. All large corporations run into these problems, but the hypocrisy, denial, and sanctimony which pervade the entire corporate hierarchy indicates a deeper level of untrustworthiness.

Anonymous said...

Check out this United Farm Worker online petition campaign re: WHole Foods.

Sign the petition to steer Whole Foods in the right direction

Thousands responded when we wrote you about the Country Natural Beef sold at Whole Foods Supermarket. Unfortunately Whole Foods has not taken action. We need you to take the next step and sign a petition. Beef North West workers will turn in the signatures to Whole Foods headquarters in Austin TX on the week of March 17.

Workers at the feedlots that include Country Natural Beef cows have been demanding UFW representation for the past eight months. Beef North West is on the same Oregon compound as Threemile Canyon Farms and Willow Creek Dairy. The Beef North West workers have seen the power a union contract has on their friends and want the same things: Dignity and respect in the workplace, a family medical plan and a voice on the job without repercussions.

However, Beef North West is no closer to agreeing to recognize the UFW as the workers’ union than they were when this campaign began. This is despite Oregon’s governor asking that both sides sit down and resolve the dispute--which the union has been willing to do from the beginning.

Whole Foods reportedly sells 60% of all Country Natural Beef. This retailer--the largest chain of “natural food” stores in the US--has also refused to take any action to resolve this situation. We would hope that when Whole Foods sees the groundswell of support for the workers at the feedlot where Country Natural Beef cows are fattened, they’ll use their influence to ensure a just resolution of this dispute and a boycott will not be necessary.

We need to increase the pressure on Whole Foods to do the right thing. Please sign the workers’ petition calling on Whole Foods to take action and pledging your support for a potential boycott of Country Natural Beef products, should one be called. Share this petition with everyone you know.

Take Action at:

Anonymous said...

I used to work at whole foods for 5 years in "leadership" (management). I can tell you the deli food is disgusting. They use items from other departments that are about to go into the trash ... that is why the fish dinner in the deli another blogger commented about is tasting funny ... you are paying good money for old food. The old food is supposed to be used that day or thrown out but those lines get blurred real quick because there is a crazy amount of pressure to deliver profits. When the stock was through the roof a few years ago it was a completely different story.

Several years ago wfm was a great compay but they have gone away from their mission statement and are like a person in the woods without a compass. It is all about the bottom line now. Stocks have been flat for 2 years and people are running scared. There used to be 25% comps in sales and now they are under 10%. Turnover rate at more than 40% per year. Jobs being cut, quality being cut, and prices going up. The deli makes at least a 50% bottom line profit off mostly old food. Disgusting.

This company needs a wake up call. Go buy your amys pizza at another store and save 2 bucks. Get fresh produce from co-ops and farmers markets. EVERYTHING they sell you can get cheaper at other places and support local businesses, even in smaller towns this is true.

Anonymous said...

I am a former whole foods employee and I really can write a book on all the horrible instances where whole foods sold food that should have gone in the trash 2 days before. They really do "re-cycle" old food to an extreme. The prepared foods dept will take old meat from the meat dept and make lasagna. The coffee bar takes spoiled milk from the dairy dept to make lattes. And the stories go on and on. It is totally disgusting. I was asked to "re-tag" expired deserts in the bakery dept (that should have gone in the trash) so that the new tag would give the product an "extra" five days to sell. I always questioned the process but my supervisor just insisted that I do it. Whole foods market has no product integrity whatsoever.

VA Farmer said...

Whole Foods is wreaking local farmers markets!!!!! I live in Virginia and am a producer that sells in three farmers markets in the Washington DC area. I have made a great living in the three markets until this year. Recently Whole Foods has started competing markets in their parking lots thus taking market share from me, they also hired a woman named Jean Janson to run the markets and she actually charges a commission for the farmers there! Last week I was told that she was starting a new market the day before my best market, so that will take market share from me and I need to make a choice to either go into more markets and neglect my farm or try to hope that my regular customers will support. In a time of gas prices at almost $4 I cannot afford to drive to more then three markets a week but in order to survive I must find a way. From what I understand the farmers at the Whole Foods markets pay no taxes (it is only 2.5% in VA); this is totally unfair and I cannot see how a supermarket can decide to wreak my business.

JW said...

Dear VA Farmer,
It is truly disheartening to hear about Whole Foods actively taking measures to quash the small farmers they publicly taut. Yet another instance of the firm's deeply-embedded duplicity. However, as an economist I am doubtful of the long-term economics of farmer's markets. As you say, driving around to markets not only takes away from the time and energy you need to grow good crops, but it also uses a lot of energy and produces greenhouse gas. I think small farmers could gain a lot by establishing cooperative market strategies whereby they collectively hire an agent to go to all of the different markets with their produce. The increased profits could more than make up for the cost of hiring such an agent. Moreover, online marketing can help promote consumer loyalty. The Crescent City Farmer's Market in New Orleans is a great example of a market with very good online marketing.

Lisa I. Rife said...

I am on an anti-Whole Foods mission-after years of knowing how it puts small natural foods markets out of business, I FINALLY have decided never to shop there. There products often are spoiled, I even bought some of their brand granola bars that were expired by several months, and thewir brand of fish fillets were so fishy tasting I threw them out. The fish came from China. Also, they manipulate people thinking that they operate as a non-profit, caring about local farmers and sustaining the earth. BS!!! They have produce from Mexico! They cater to the rich who believe they are too good to shop anywhere else. Its more of a status symbol, or a brand. People who understand that will shop at farmers markets. If Whl Foods wanted to do something good, tehy wouldnt dominate the market and put other business out (Wal-mart). It should be called Whole-Mart or Wal-Foods.
The socially conscious thing to do is to not shop there. It is evil and I wont step foot in there again.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that all the comments agree with you, and are negative about Whole foods. I have been shopping at Whole Foods for over 6 years,and absolutely love the food I get from there, and what Whole Foods stands for. Somehow I don't think that you will allow this comment to get posted?

Anonymous said...

I currently work at the Whole Foods in Swampscott Massachusetts. There is something not right about this company. Something very "Stepford" if you understand. I see people let go all the time and it doesn't seem like any of the team leaders (managers) have any formal training in people development.

Anonymous said...

Wah wah, you people are all a bunch of crybabies. Of all the issues in the world today, all of the hypocrisy, this is where you choose to focus your anger and energy? No company is perfect, and just because a company is large and successful or buys products from Mexico or China does not make it evil - not even Walmart.


Anonymous said...

Whole Foods 'vision/mission statement' is a farce. As a former employee of Whole Foods, I agree that Whole Foods pricing is skewed, and that the acquisition of Wild Oats may have increased their buying power, but it did NOT lower their prices. In fact, their prices went up! Many products went up 30-40%

In addition, Whole Foods 'culture' is a joke. They have implemented a strict 'no hire' policy for former Wild Oats employees, those same employees that were promised employment prior to and during the acquisition. Many of us former employees have filed complaints with the EEO, although those complaints will most likely be disregarded claims. Thanks a bunch John! You're a class act.

After the acquisition, Whole Foods management did not successfully bring their 'culture' into their newly acquired store fronts. In fact, they lacked the leadership necessary to effectively communicate. Many of us were in limbo for 6 months waiting for direction, only to find out that they didn't want to direct us, they wanted us gone. They prefer to have entry level candidates that they can 'mold' in their own image.

Whole Foods spends more money moving displays around the store than they do on product research. This practice affects pricing, and if you've shopped at Whole Foods and then done some price comparison on similar products at Kroger (King Soopers), Safeway and Vitamin Cottage, you'll find the same products for LESS. Much less. You can get a Naked Protein drink for 8.99 at Whole Foods, where the same product will cost 5.29 at Vitamin Cottage IN THE SAME LOCAL MARKET. Skewed? Yes, slightly.

Whole Foods lacks class. Don’t believe the hype. They are not an organic market, and they are not the next best thing. Stick to your local co-op and support your local farmers. Whole Foods doesn’t support local farmers! They prefer cheap labor overseas. Most of their products are not fair trade products, nor are they certified organic. READ THE FINE PRINT. Most organic foods are only ‘natural’ at Whole Foods.

Anonymous said...

I have shopped at Whole Foods since they arrived here in NJ, and have seen their ups and downs. I applaud them putting more local and organic selections in the stores and for trying to get rid of plastic bags. That alone is better than most supermarkets. That said, I doubt many of you have ever worked in a restaurant or regular supermarket where reusing old food has been SOP for decades. There was a time where I was shopping less because they started bringing in mostly conventional products in place of their organic counterparts. I figured "why pay such a price for stuff I can get at A&P for cheaper?" But I have noticed a huge effort to get back to the vibe of the WF of the early 2000's. Plus, they've begun to roll back some prices, as well. They're not all that bad as far as supermarkets go. PLUS, they power many of their stores with solar/geothermal/alternative energy.

Anonymous said...

I shop at the Whole Foods in Swampscott. I have been really disappointed in any of the deli/prepared foods I have purchased. Just recently, I purchased two dijon crispy chicken breasts. I asked the woman behind the counter if they were a good choice which she said yes. They were awful as was the orzo salad (which I usually like). Everything tasted old so I threw it all away. I love shopping in the store itself because it is clean and easy to navigate, but after that last experience, I haven't been back there (usually I would go once a week). It's too expensive for the quality received and there is not anything that I cannot get at Stop & Shop or Trader Joe's for less.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Whole Foods supports local farmers in California where they can get it for dirt cheap, but overall they don't support local farmers. Most of their produce comes from overseas, and if you've seen the price of diesel gasoline and understand that mass amounts of fuel that are consumed in shipping products from overseas, the solar energy panels on the roof of their stores hardly makes up for the loss.
Why do you think diesel gasoline has gotten so expensive the last 10 years? Because the US imports just about everything, except for Defense contracts.

In Colorado, Whole Foods has the option to purchase produce from the Western Slope, but they don't because it's more expensive than purchasing from a third world country. Why? Because the farmers in Colorado expect a fair wage. Whole Foods can buy cheap products from overseas where people aren't receiving a fair wage.

It's all about profit margin with Whole Foods. They earn about $1000 per square foot in their stores, where most of their 'competitors' earn 400-700 per square foot. It's not that they actual sell more in volume, it's that their prices are generally 30-40% higher than their competitors, but they've managed to dupe consumers into believing they're getting the best deal for their money. Not true! It's a overpriced yuppies market.

The Green Bags? Sure, they're non-woven polypropylene, and they are manufactured in Australia, but they still import from China. And of course it looks good on the surface, you may even believe Whole Foods cares about the environment, but they make a substantial PROFIT from selling the green bags.

Only time will tell if their business model will succeed nationwide. I've only noticed a huge decline in their stock prices and most of that can be attributed to their competitors offering better prices for the same products.

Anonymous said...

In addition to "recycling" their out of date and about to spoil foods themselves, they turn around and sell them to discount grocers in their near areas. Who knows how they are claiming a loss. I know they sell, because I've bought those items at deep discount and some still have stickers or at least brand names that are traced specifically to WF (like their store brand.) I'm willing to take a chance on the viability of dry goods at those prices, but no way would I buy the same thing at their stores. Example: some chocolate bars that were out of date turned out fine, but I bought them for $.50 each, versus a whopping $3.99 retail.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am a former Whole Foods employee and agree with the poster who mentioned that there's something very "Stepford" about the place. Our leadershit... oops, leadership is pathetic. Store morale is so low because those in management never offer praise, just complaints and bad-mouthing. One of our assistant store manager's has had employees and vendors in tears with her verbal abuse.

The only employees that like being there are those who have been there 60 days or less. Everyone else wants out. In one month, we have five employees give their notice ... and only one (me!) had another job lined up to go to. The others just wanted o-u-t.

Our store was built too large in an area of Milwaukee that just can't support it. The marketer has now "partnered" with the Jewish Community Center to "try and get some of that Jew money" (while she complains about them in every event recap). This is the type of thinking that that store's management thinks is going to keep the store operating.

If you don't bow down and kiss their behinds, you're written up on some bogus charge. A former employee was written up because she expressed concern to management that another employee was drinking on the job. The charge? She didn't approach that employee directly, but instead told management about it. Since when it is the employee's job to confront someone about an issue that's grounds for dismissal? Isn't that what management is for?

The management team at that store is pathetic, the employees are apathetic to the situation because they know nothing will change and their only hope is to get the hell out.

And the regional office doesn't care.

Meanwhile, I love where I work now. If a local grower wants to sell their produce through us... great! Give us 10 minutes and we'll have a new PLU set up and their product will be on the floor in less than 2 hours.

Yeah, I'm thrilled I'm out of that hellhole called Whole Fools Market :o)

Anonymous said...

Whole Foods currently has a 'freeze' on hiring. They can't afford to hire any employees because they aren't making enough money :)

Life's rough.

I work for one of their competitors now and they are opening up 5 new stores in our market, while Whole Foods has resorted to restricting hours, pay raises and hiring.

What was it that John Mackie said, "Competition is great."

The value of WF stock has diminished by over 50%. :)

Anonymous said...

I work for Whole Foods Market.
I will not say anything negative here, because it would not be fair. If I do not believe in what they stand for I can leave.
I will not lie here either though.
I've worked in more than one store and for well over a year.
Any accusations of inorganic produce being labelled organic are bs, unless some person on their own does it. w.F. is actually strict about keeping the two apart so that the organic does not get contaminated.
As far as freshness goes I have never seen anything stale on the shelves. If anything, WF wastes a lot of food since they have such high standards. Too high, some would say, as far as size and shape of fruits, etc. goes.
Employee benefits--there are many. Vacation pay, health care, and substantial discount.
All I ask is that people stick to the truth.
Some of the accusations I've seen are false and I question whether or not everyone who says they have worked for WF really have. some of the terminology they use is Kroger terminology and not WF terminology.

d said...

I'm a former Team member in the SOPAC (south pacific) region. I can attest that prepared foods indeed used very old food. I stopped buying both fresh and deli meat there after a meat TM told me they mixed old meat into the ground beef and turkey.

The pressure to make margins is incredible, and corners get cut all the time.

There is a real contempt towards the customer. Whole Foods grew into an international powerhouse offering healthy options for competitive prices.

They have been steadily raising prices and replacing items with more expensive counterparts. WFM has replaced many of their more affordable wheat free lines with their own store brand---$8 for a loaf of bread! They also have replaced many of the old standard companies with brands such as Glutino, which use refined sugar and corn syrup.

WFM has no corporate identity. They copy Trader Joes, Mitsuwa, and Gelson's. It was only a matter of time before they chased away their customers. I used to shop there exclusively, but there are so many more options now for hormone free meat and fish, there's just no reason to shop there.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I was a TM at WF in Roswell, GA and if you want to smell something worse than rotten fish, it is the certified organic corruptness that comes from the top. WF's policies and work practices are so backward and lack integrity. Especially when it comes to discrimination of people who have medical conditions. I mean, in this day and age what company has a policy like "we don't allow people to work here with medical restrictions? Come on, they discriminate and only let people who actually get hurt on the job work there with a Dr's note. If they discover that you have physical restrictions ie: need to do "light duty" or not lift etc... you are sent home or fired! That is so inviting of a lawsuit! Anybody know what I am talking about... to be treated fairly to me means more than whether their tomatoes comes from Chile or New Jersey!

Anonymous said...

Yeah WFM is pretty iffy... I too am a former employee, and I was fired for standing for what I believed in...they do relabel foods, used old expired food for either prepared foods or to sample. There is cross contamination, especially in produce, in the refridge in preduce, everything is mixed up, they keep expired things on the shelf. If a customer leaves a cred. card or a wallet, please believe a TM (team member) will steal from you. If you leave a complaint at the dest, it is usually ripped tp shreds and not reported. The leadership only cover their own behinds..such as lying about attendance (they have strict attend. policies. Their turnover is horrible. Customer service is questionable, but there are some really good team members. Oh and if you are injured on the job, they will keep you on the schedule to avoid workers comp or worse..but if you for instance have a injury that limits you, a hurt ankle that requires a simple have to be taken off the schedule..unpaid. People stay because the people there do not have the best work or criminal records and can work no where else.

Stacey said...

I've bought a few expired food items, unknowingly. At first I thought it was a fluke - someone forgot to restock shelves, etc. However, 10 days (Oct 2008) ago I bought Pacific Brand boxed soup. Yesterday I ate the soup and noticed that it didn't taste "right" but I thought it was just me. I took the remainder out of the fridge to discard and while pouring it out I noticed the expiration date was "03May08." This is October and that is no fluke. Also, olive oil that I bought on the same day as the soup has a best by date of Sept 08.

The store manager did not argue and profusely apologized, but I doubt if anything will change.

I used to buy food from the deli, but after several bad experiences I've stopped doing that all together.

I am rethinking whether I will continue to shop there.

Anonymous said...

As a former employee of Whole Foods I cannot believe much of what I am reading here. Whole Foods is a decentralized company -which means that every single region of the company functions differently with different policies and product standards so to make blanket statements about what goes on in one location as if it happens throughout the company is just not truthful.

As for the original poster's issues at the Charles River store I can only say that that particular store has a real ego problem - they believe that they can do no wrong and don't care much for customer service.

I believe that older team members from Bread & Circus (and they are few in number now, having been phased out by the region's insistance on young, no experience beautiful people who move into leadership positions with no training) were truly the best employees. I have sadly watched the company suffer as the staff gets younger and less experienced.

Anonymous said...

A beautiful new Whole Foods opened up near me (Union, NJ), and I have gone several times since its opened. I love the store but I have to agree with the lack of freshness of the deli food. I kept getting deli prepared food and it had an odd rancid taste each time. I thought maybe its just me and its something they use to season the food. But today I have had it with them, I spent over $75 on prepared food for dinner and it just smells so rancid. I googled "whole foods" and "rancid" to see if anyone else has had the same experience and sure enough its not just me and my taste buds. I will still shop there for some items like frozen and HBA but I am steering clear of anything prepared in the store. Its a shame because some of the stuff looks really good. I understand that they have to turn a profit on the fast expiring food but by "recycling" the food, eventually people will catch on to the less than fresh quality and will stop buying it all together.I have.

Anonymous said...

Whole Foods stock is at 10 bucks a share :)

Chew on that Mr. Mackie :)

Wow. I feel so good knowing that WF is going down the toilet. You reap what you sow. When you treat people unfairly, it comes back to you.

Mr. Mackie should hand write apology letters to all the Wild Oats employees his company screwed.

BTW, on Dec. 9th, the Whole Foods at Colorado Mills in Colorado took all the old turkeys that expired on 11-28, cut them up, put them in the freezer, and they'll be re-packaging them for sale as 'fresh product'. I watched with my own two eyes. Pathetic.


Anonymous said...

All I have to say is that Whole Foods has strayed sooo far from their original mission statements it's sad..i can say first hand that working there is almost like working for high school kids..petty and superficial. I've believed in this co for a while but, lately, I'm giving up and it makes me's almost like if they don't like you the first thing they do is villify you

Anonymous said...

Never had a problem in 15 years shopping at Whole Foods.??Yes, inattentive staff sometimes, ctoo chatty maybe testy. I have
known people who have been employed at WF and they told me-as with other stores-people will actually forget about items in their pantry and when they find them and they are spoiled they will actually demand a refund. She has seen it many times and these people always enter VERY mad and defensive. Hard to deal with.
I also take issue with the personal
snd emotional postings here.
The salad and hot food bars alone -and I travel often-at very While Foods I have been to have actually improved.People like to attack the shiniest so for what it is worth. I am not saying they are perfect by
any means but why have I-a chef -never had an issue in 15 years?
As far as staff I find it spotty, rude, nice, indifferent, and downright lousy...everywhere these days. The bank, the hardware store, the corner store, restaurants. Manners and old style customer service are a thing of the past. 54 years old here.
I grab up slightly higher quality items with their 365 brand at low prices. I shop at a few. I thank WF for brining in so many small company items I can't get elsewhere.
They also give back to community groups quite a bit.
Have a sunny day and a Happy
and BIG PICTURE 2009

Anonymous said...

I'm a Team member at WFM Fort Collins CO. All I have to say is that WFM has strayed so far from their original mission statements it's very sad. I can say first hand that working there is almost like working for high school kids, petty and superficial. I've believed in this CO for a while but, lately, I'm giving up. It's almost like if they don't like you the first thing they do is villify you, miss treat you and make you feel worthless, four TM got fired because they came forward to let the company know what was going on, WFM in Fort collins CO has one of the most disgusting management team, you have the meat department using old meat miss treating there TMs, prep food so many customer had gotten sick and they do nothing, this is what I got told when I got sick: "you can report it but they don't give a shit" TM front and back are so upset with the store. You have the pastry/bakery department racist manager TL Jane, her department are all Caucasian TMs, she dislike color people this is what several former-team member told me and it was confirmed. The tarts are old is supposed to be used that day or thrown out, ugly fruit, funny taste, but those lines get blurred real quick because there is a big amount of pressure to deliver profits. This store had a manager with the name ANDREW J ELLINGSEN aka Andy "STL career development" Sexual Harrasing several TM not only in the Fort Colins Store but also the ones he worked before, he did this for years. This women came forward and told management about this, STL Casey did nothing, he hide this from HR. In here if you tell management they will said: "we are giving you a write up for telling lies about your STLs, two more like this and your out and every write up includes your bad preformance" so they can fire you faster. This sick man sexualy abused and harrased several TM (women and men)and got away with it, he did this for 5 years with his lover Brandon, this man is also married. This is the company that you support and love, I feel sorry for this people, this should never happen, no respect. This is becoming money and business. They don't care about you as a TM or as a customer. It is really sad because this company was one of the best, great products and people. What's going on? I'm leaving the company soon. I'm getting married, I can assure you I will not buy my wedding cake at WFM.

Anonymous said...

I too work at whole foods. A former wild oats employee, they gave us all jobs and i got better pay. But i'd rather get paid what i did at wild oats and be happy than work at whole foods, be stressed constantly, always having to go against my moral values (like not feeding week-old food to people for 11.99/lb) just to make some kind of profit when it doesn't benefit us since we have fixed wages! ugh. the customer service at your store is probably terrible because of how much everyone hates working there.

Anonymous said...

I'm a current employee in the northeast region. I don't know about your regions or your stores, but I love my store and look forward to working there every day. the people I work with are amazing and we are always very careful about keeping our items fresh. if we make a mistake or get a complaint we make sure it's taken care of and that the customers go home satisfied (or at least with some sort of giftcard..)
maybe my positive experience with this company is due to my store being so small; we're like a huge family. leadership is amazing too.

And yes, we unfortunately do trash a lot of our food because we believe in keeping our food fresh. I'm not all crazy about our prep foods dept but I can tell you that our store doesn't sell crap. Come by Greenwich CT and you'll see a difference. we're just really tight in space and the parking lot sucks during peak hours.
everybody has a right to like or dislike, but please remember that some of our stores are wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Whole Foods is a great place to work. Food is thrown away everyday. Our store does not serve rotten or stale products. We have a ton of local vendors. Our benefits are through the roof, and our team morale is excellent. Customer service is given to such a great extent that it bothers me a little bit. We spoil our customers.

Anonymous said...

I have worked at Whole Foods Market in Austin, Tx. for more than 10 years as a Body Care TM,Front-End Cashier, Team Trainer, Supervisor, and in an HR capacity at the corporate offices... Whole Foods has become a corporation that cares only about the bottom line, PROFIT. The marketing is always glossy and slick, while often being false, so buyer beware. Our local Farmers Market was pushed out of its weekend slot at the store to make more room for parking spaces, while conventional produce has been marked as "organic" to be put out for sale, smart employees keep their mouth shut because they realize, rarely is anyone fired for true cause, but rather due to personality, or personal conflicts with leadership, and, take my word for it, DO NOT eat anything prepared in the deli, because if you only knew...! Very few WFM employees take the risk.
I agree that different stores, with great leadership, can be run well. But, that is no longer the experience at the "mothership" store in Austin.

Leave Whole Foods to the celebrities and robots, and support your local food co-op and farmers. Go Wheatsville!!

Anonymous said...

Wow this blog entry read like my relationship with the Whole Foods by me. I finally think I reached my breaking point today - like you, I've put up with a lot, but there comes a point where it's no longer worth it.

Anonymous said...

Not sure where you got the info that the pay is good...........but it is not true.

Yehonatan Vasseira said...

Now there is apparently an assault on kosher foods, especially at the Johns Creek store in Atlanta, GA.

The irony is that the butcher is claiming kosher meat and the Rabbis responsible are treating animals inhumanely.

With cold cases of bludgeoned and electroshocked meat behind him.

I didn't want to paste my whole post here and detract, so it is linked.

Anonymous said...

I never shop at Whole Foods, not because of the poor food or rude people, but for another reason. They opened on Thanksgiving Day in violation of state law. The point of the law is to protect employees from coercion to work that day, and even though they said no one was "forced" to work that day, retail doesn't work that way. if they don't think enough of their employees to give them all the day off to be with their families, they can do without my business.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I found this blog by googling, 'I hate Whole Foods Market'. An important question is, why do I hate WFM? I hate it because I have been employed with WFM for 4 years and they are hands down, the worse place I have ever worked. When I started with WFM in 2005, they were a cool company. I felt good about what we were doing as an organization and I felt good about the products we were selling. The team members and leadership team were happy overall and it was a great place to work. We had a lot of fun at the store level, i.e., parties, events, contests, etc. Then I decided to transfer to another store in order to broaden my horizons. The store I transferred to was ok at first, but the team members and leadership team seemed unhappy. As time went on (a very short amount of time, 2 months), I realized that the store I was at wasn't inherently awful, but the regional folks were pressuring the store leadership, who in turn pressured the team leaders, who in turn pressured the team members, who in turn began providing below average customer service because they were miserable. It was a trickledown effect and everyone was discontented. In retrospect, it was no coincidence that this was occurring during a time when the economy took a dip and WFM's financial opulence was in question. Belts started tightening and everyone felt the squeeze. I stayed because I had just moved my entire life to a new city and I could not afford to be without a job and despite my best efforts, I could not find another job. The thing is, WFM DOES pay their leadership fairly well. At the time, I was making enough money to live comfortably for once, but I felt tremendously trapped by my job and by the threat of making it financially should I leave the company. Nonetheless, I still assumed something was wrong with this particular store.
Eventually, they let our Store Team Leader go and brought in a stoic ‘veteran’ Store Team Leader who had her own agenda. She began weeding the store out and letting people go who had worked there for 15+ years and she brought in a group of people from her previous store that she knew, trusted and loved. Prior to the team member/team leader separation onslaught that ensued and even during the transition, work aside, she seemed to be a decent person and I knew in my heart of hearts that she was doing what was being asked of her in order to save herself. However, I questioned the integrity of an individual who is willing to go to such lengths to throw people under the bus in order to maintain their position and status. Needless to say, I stayed under the radar and eventually left and went to another store as a departmental team leader. I thought maybe a new store would help revive the warm fuzzy feelings I once had about this company; the feelings that my ashamed, yet programmed self still regurgitates to team members and customers on a regular basis even though I no longer believe it.

Anonymous said...

Part 2:

Long story short, the new store and the new position merely gave me more insight into the corrupt ways this company operates when threatened fiscally. For starters, the people they hire to work in leadership nowadays don't know their ass from a hole in the ground; they are followers, big business MBA types who only care about the bottom line and their own job security and have zero people skills. WFM once prided itself on compassionate leadership and that is a thing of the past. I have been asked to target particular team members who they don't like in order to 'get rid of' them. Team members are asked to work crazy hours, split shifts, long shifts one day, short shifts the next, without the added bonus of overtime because overtime has been put to a halt as a method of trying to get more for less from team members in order to turn a bigger profit. Nepotism is against WFM’s rules in the policy book known as a GIG, however, nepotism is at an all time high. It is a popularity contest at the store and regional level and if you are liked, you are safe. If you are not liked, your days are numbered. When they issue corrective actions to team members, they careful select what category they write you up for so they can get rid of you faster. It was put to me this way, “it doesn’t matter what the team member really did, it’s all about the verbage”. The departmental leadership team is scared to death on a regular basis because the company is so profit/ margin performance driven that if you fail, you are reprimanded, put on an action plan and let go. I understand at the end of the day that WFM is a business and there are certain functions all businesses must perform for survival, but this company perches itself on the highest post and pretends to be in it for the global good, for team member happiness, for the customer, to support the community and give back and all the other propaganda that is force fed to millions of shoppers and team members every day. I am here to tell you that is NOT what is going on behind those swinging doors you see team members disappear behind. The working conditions are unsafe, the backrooms are a mess and poorly constructed, team members/leaders are worked to death and expected to do so or their commitment and dedication is questioned, breaks are forgone, vacations denied, equipment is only replaced when completely falling apart, food prep areas are absolutely disgusting!, out of date product IS given to prepared foods so they can turn a 70% margin item into a 170% item, team members are harassed through condescending ‘hot boxing’ conversations, Store Leadership lies constantly in order to cover themselves and did I mention nepotism? It’s a real shame. So, why do people still work there? Because the economy is not at its highest peak, no thanks to the last 30+ years of ALL administrations and people are stuck in their jobs. WFM takes care of you ‘well enough’ to keep you working there. The expectations of a person working there are completely unrealistic, yet they keeping upping the ante. It’s absurd. The unfortunate thing is that the majority of people who work for WFM are highly educated people who truly are foodies, hardworking, dedicated, passionate about social issues, have a strong desire to educate the public about the wrong doings of ‘big business’ in the food industry and who are terribly stuck living and telling a gigantic lie every day in order to feed themselves. It makes me sick. Anyone hiring?

Anonymous said...

My sister's husband was hired a few months ago. He interviewed twice for the job and that went very well, for a full time job. When it came time to offer the job, they said it was now part time due to the economic crisis. He took it anyway, because they needed the money and there has been the promise of full time mentioned to him multiple times, but nothing concrete yet. He met his 400 hours and now the insurance offered will take eighty six dollars out of his part time paycheck a week and the deductible is $1300.00 which is high and a $770.00 deductible for medications. And next year deductibles are increasing for everyone part time or full time to over $1460.00 and higher for some plans offered that they all are voting on now. This means all of that money is out of your pocket and the insurance won't kick in till one has spent $1460.00 or more for their medical bills. This is more like being offered catastrophic insurance. These were not the benefits originally posted with this job when it was originally offered and posted as full time. They need a union. Costco and Kmart offer better benefits. While WF may pay some people more an hour than say Giant or Safeway, what does it matter to part timers who have more money taken out each week of their paycheck, $86 per week and your deductible is $1300.00 and rising? Not good at all. What a shame that a store that says their benefits are so great is now doing this. No complaint with the products offered, but this other situation is not good at all.

Colette said...

I had worked at the managerial, dept. head, level in the natural foods industry for 20 years, in the pacific northwest. The last 4 years of that tenure was at Whole Foods Market Inc. I worked prior in natural foods cooperatives, took a swing at life in corporate America. WOW! it was the death knell of my participation in that industry.

I was good at my work, received various financial incentives to prove it. Provided the results we targeted financially, presented the physical plant with flair and quality - was very proud of my little chunk of their enterprise. Yet often had people above me meddling in my department operations- directly asking me to target individuals in my employ for being 'gotten rid of'.... people who came to work on time, did their jobs... These were "C" and "B" students, whole foods wanted something else...

Many executive level workers were from large retailers like Target or Safeway, that had little specific expertise in the products or their consumption. Didn't matter, they could have been selling auto parts or consumer electronics, much less natural foods and sustainability. I have been a natural foods consumer for 30 years, I used to observe my white collar management team shop at the end of the day. These are people likely to eat at Burger King on the way home from a day at 'the office'.

Young energetic people, working in a natural foods store, is not, nor will ever be 'a profession'. These were young people that showed up at 5 a.m. and worked a fair day... Disillusioned, I just quit, walked out, took a couple years off and found something else to do. I work in organized labor now, fed up watching these clever cornball companies treat people as disposable resources. That was my response, I just recommend you boycott them completely.

Other posts have accurately portrayed their smoke and mirrors approach to selling organic food, particularly produce... Yes a percentage of 'spoilage - shrink' from the produce department is taken to the 'prepared foods - deli' section, processed and resold. If it is not chopped up for sale as a fruit platter, berry cup, salsa and guacamole' in the produce section. The vast majority of the in house processed fruit and vegetable products in a whole foods produce department, is old product otherwise headed to the compost bin.

What do you think the 'smoker' in many of their meat departments is for? It is to smoke old, about to be out of date meats to keep out of the garbage and sell to you.

My beef was mainly the illegitimate treatment of people, including me.... in the end it was the worst place I ever was employed. I would never spend one cent there... Took all my accumulated whole foods t-shirts, rode around on my bike and gave them to the homeless drunkards in my city... to hell with that hypocritical company, and their false promises. Doing what Whole Foods Market Inc. has done to the natural foods movement, is a indicative model of what is predictably deserved with all economic failure today. It comes with all the watered down results from all corporate endeavors.

As an entity Whole Foods Market is just an overpriced Safeway or Kroger with some cute little leaves on the logo.

No thanks, I am back at my neighborhood co-op where it all started, making amends for my naivete'.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to have found this site! I am a holistic physician and foodie and thus am always begging my patients to eat well.... and becuase of all the smoke and mirrors, pricing, low percentage organic and spoilage issues, I have stopped recommending Whole Foods. I thought it was just the sores near me, but I see it is a reflection of company policy... thanks everyone for validating what I have been suspecting!

Food said...

whole foods and the farmers market are the only places i shop for groceries. whole foods has the 365 brand which is their generic brand and it is awesome! allows me to get the protection of the whole foods high standards for food.

whole foods provides consumers a healthy option and food with standards. buying food is an experience that differs for everyone with each visit to any business.

Food said...

Forgot to post this link withmy words...

JW said...

Interesting article from SFgate from 2007. You can read my response here. As I hope is clear from my article, I'm not unilaterally against every aspect of Whole Foods, and I am happy to admit that it has probably played a major role in bringing social responsibility and sustainability to retailing. Undoubtedly a good development.

But I and many of these commenters have also experienced the many ways in which Whole Foods falls short of its own ideals and our expectations. Whether or not you like Whole Foods, I hope we can agree that we as consumers have the power and the responsibility to push the companies we patronize to do better.

Anonymous said...

WHOLE FOODS is a SHITTY company. They treat you like shit provided they give you a 'good' insurance plan. They're food is OVERPRICED you can get a better deal through a CSA program. They are SEXIST and completely dog eat dog, lord of the flies mentality. The Nashville store and their team leaders are a bunch of the BIGGEST ASSHOLES you will ever meet. They talk about working as a team when the truth is it's a bunch of hoopla to make you think you are a part of something when all they do is tear you down and over work you to the core. DO EVERYONE A FAVOR WF stop talking about sustainable living when the best way we could do that is to SUPPORT our LOCAL stores such as Produce Place or LOCAL FARMERS MARKET!!! Your food is OVERPRICED and your ATTITUDES SUCK!!! LEARN to TREAT YOUR EMPLOYEES BETTER! Maybe then you WON'T have such a HIGH RATE OF EMPLOYEES LEAVING!

ccsteffen said...

I wish I would have read this before I left my decent, higher paying, more supportive job at Harris Teeter. I was fired because, after suffering a herniated lumbar disc this summer, I couldn't work. I wasn't able to return by August 3rd, the mandatory date they gave me and then fired me. Not to mention that they DIDN'T TELL ME THAT THEY FIRED ME! I went to use my discount card on August 19 and it was denied at the register (embarrassing!) and then on August 22, I received my COBRA packet in the mail. Fired by COBRA!! This after they fought hard to lure me to work there in the first place. This is what I get for being a great employee?? Not a word from them. I filed for unemployment and just found out today that it was denied. This is BEYOND unfair and just not right of a such a company that "pretends" to care about its team members. My mother died on June 8, and they didn't even send me a sympathy card. They don't care about anyone at all and I will never, ever, ever shop there again. I wrote all about it on my blog: And yes, of course I will be appealing this unemployment decision. There's a nice place in hell reserved for people like that.

max bell alper said...

Check out this dancing and singing protest inside a whole foods...

WFHater said...

I live in Los Angeles and have shopped at 5 different WF markets here. ALL HORRIBLE! I AGREE WITH EVERY SINGLE NEGATIVE COMMENT HERE! PRODUCE IS DISGUSTING AND LOOKS LIKE THEY PULLED IT OUT OF THE GARBAGE. WOULDN'T EVEN DREAM OF GETTING ANYTHING FROM THE MEAT OR DELI DEPT. Even the employees have told me they would NEVER buy the meat there!! What they pass off as "edible" is insane. This is nothing more than a greedy money making machine. I LONG FOR THE DAY THEY GO OUT OF BUSINESS! PLEASE SOMEONE, wake up and create a competing organic/health food market. I can't believe that in a city as huge as L.A. there are not more competitors to this GREEDY DISGUSTING COMPANY!! THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO TOOK THE TIME TO POST HERE!

Anonymous said...

I work at Whole Foods. You get shitty service because I am tired of you and I cant help you any longer, if you are 99% of the folks that come in barking commands at me (its "Where is the canned pumpkin?" not "CANNED PUMPKIN! CANNED PUMPKIN!! CANNED PUMPKIN!! What's the matter, I havent got all day!"). Then, if the store doesnt have what you want, and I try to suggest something else based on what I know, or I provide you with as many details on the 'why nots' as possible, you then blame me personally on being such a fucking idiot that I wouldnt have predicted that you were coming in, because I would have of course paged China to make sure your 50% marked-up placebo wonder-juice would have been shipped for that moment. Sure, I'll get my manager. Your time sucking complaints have so much to do with trucks being held at customs, or with crops of rice getting wiped out from drought.

I'm sure many of you folks keep your brains inside their boxes when you walk into a store, and remember that service workers are people too, but the fact is, most humans become completely helpless once they walk into a retail establishment. And believe it or not, I love to help, and I love to provide information, especially if you are trying to steer yourself into a healthier lifestyle. But probably because of the extreme price discrimination that goes on at Whole Foods, those 99% bastards meet me with sick senses of entitlement for bent-over-backwards, balls-deep service, instead of the happy human helpfulness I would have normally been inclinced to give (if I didnt feel as leached as a vampires victim after dealing with these folks 8 hours of every day.)

I swear I'll quit, any day. It's just that I get these awesome benefits.

Liam Gray said...

I have some anti-WholeFoods shirts being made:

Shoot me an email at liamlunchtray(at) if anyone is interested. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

lmao..all you whole foods haters....get a life ...your the customers that ruin it for everyone else. so stop shopping there if it's that bad! never been disappointed by them. you can't control every worker .thats anywhere you go

Anonymous said...

I shop at both "Mothers Market", and "Trader Joe's", and everyone in the store is knowledgeable about the products offered, and if they are not they will immediately put you in contact with someone who is.

Whole foods employees are just punks who should be working at Wal-mart with the lazy and ignorant attitudes they display. I called there recently to inquire on whether they carried a specific product, and instead of putting me in direct contact with someone who would know, they transferred me all over the store to each department.

I stated from the get go that I was looking for a supplement, but I kept being transferred to different departments, where idiots kept answering in air headed tones, acting like I was speaking a different language. It pissed me off so bad because I was trying to save myself a trip there.

One imbecile replied "I dont know, I never heard of it", well god forbid he actually check right? I just slammed down the phone, cause he was the FIFTH imbecile I was connected with.

And to the morons here who want to downplay the gripes we have against Whole foods, SHOVE IT! It sure as hell depends on who's ox is being gored, because if it were something important to you, and you were being treated like a jackass, you would sure as hell have something to say about it!

Anonymous said...

I worked at the bridgeport location in Oregon and it way by far the worst experience I've ever had. The "leadership" was deplorable, dishonest, and dare I say corrupt. There was one set of rules for some employees and another set for the rest. Their mission statement and company policies are merely lip service. Leadership is do as I say not as I do. If you count freshness as taking an expired item and creating another recipe from it to sell to the customers as a new product then yes, whole foods sells fresh product in their bakery department.
Sexual harassment was rampant at my former store but somehow the offending team leaders and store leaders are all still employed while the team members are long gone. The so called joke of an HR person was a full fledged whole foods stepford robot and protected her job and her boss instead of actually DOING her job. I have never worked at a place with such bad morale in my life. If you were in admin or a team leader you were fine but if you were one of the minions, look out. If you stood up for yourself you were as good as fired. They have their criteria for letting people go but believe me if they wanted you gone you would be gone sooner rather than later. I will never spend another dime in that store. Shop your local co-op, trader joe's or any other store that offers an organic section, most all stores have at least a row or two of organic fare these days.

Anonymous said...

I've been working at WFM for a little less than a year and I'm having a blast. I've never worked somewhere that gave me so much freedom to make my own decisions. Too bad you all have had such a terrible experience but try spending 8+ hours a day dealing with self entitled asshats like yourselves and maybe you'll see why the employees dont like you!
"wheres my free samples?"
Excuse me? They are free. If you happen to be so lucky as to stop by at a time when we have some then great! If not, don't act like its your right!

Um...balsamic? Are we playing name that dressing game? Oh no, you barked a name of a dressing at me because you wanted to know where it was? Right...

"Wheres the ______ (coke, kraft american cheese, doritos, etc)?"
We don't carry those products because they have preservatives.

"Where did you move the _____ THIS TIME? Its always RIGHT HERE!"
I'm sorry sir/ma'am its over here where its been for the last 8 months. Glad to help out a regular customer.

"Why don't you have (assine, overly picky flavor of product)?"
I'm sorry ma'am/sir but we don't have that. We do have 14 other choices just like it but of course thats not good enough for your pretentious ass.

"I'm returning this wine because its not good"
Oh, and by not good you mean you didnt like it. Right, wish I had the audacity to do that with everything I didnt like! You're an idiot and wouldnt know good wine if I hit you with a bottle of it!

"Wheres your fresh juice?"
Fresh juice? Like tropicana fresh?
Do you mean just squeezed out of an orange fresh? We don't have a juice bar.
"Yes you do. You had it last time I came in."
Oh you mean the juice bar we had three years ago? Yeah since our customers came in so often we got rid of juice in a cardboard box is that way

wow I feel so much better! See you at the market!

Anonymous said...

Whole Foods is a farce on health & nutrition. I hate how they are so phony and misleading people on nutrition health. Whole Foods is an over-glorified junk-food store.

I love watching all the fat people pour over the "healthy" labels buying the same meat, dairy, and sugar based products that are killing America. Oh but no hydrogenated fats? Whole Foods loves using Canola oil! Check their prepared foods - canola oil What plant is that? It is Canada Oil plant. It is rapeseed oil and industrila poisonous to man and animals. (Google: rapeseed and Mad Cow)

I go there for Fiji cases - it is the cheapest and for the 5 organic vegetables that they may or may not have in stock and then I have to sift through all the bad produce that they just let sit on the shelf. They have maybe 5% organic produce in their stores from god knows where. I shop PA and FL and both regions are just as bad. Amazes me.

So happy to read all these posts - love it.

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Anonymous said...

I too am a Whole Foods employee and can vouch for many of the negative comments posted here.Contrary to their supposed "core values," Whole Foods is primarily concerned with turning a profit.The rest is just hype intended to fool the public.The supposed "core values" are a joke, a marketing strategy designed to dupe stockholders and potential customers into paying exorbitant prices for marked-up goods.After learning the truth about WF I feel safer shopping at Wal Mart any day!

I happened to work at a location in a city that dealt with a MAJOR DISASTER in 2005(hint!hint!)Despite the fact that the city had lost 80% OF IT'S POPULATION after the disaster,the former Team Leader, a long-term employee from the "hippy days" was terminated for failing to exceed projections made the previous year.

In 2008 it was found that a prepared foods team leader had been ordering chemically-enhanced, genetically-modified poultry from wholesale food giant SYSCO(the same shit you get at McDonald's!)and labeling it as "natural" in order to meet the demands of regional leadership.Employees are consistently reprimanded by management if they are found to be recommending fresher product over older or out-of-date items to loyal customers.

Despite claiming that they promote "team member groth and happiness", long-time employees are routinely set up to be fired if they are found to make "too much" money.

A mandatory meeting was held to address the "danger" presented by unions to our "Utopian" work atmosphere.Threats of termination were levied against employees suspected of organizing. Very McCarthy-esque!
And that's just the tip of the iceberg!
Recycling and compost bins are regularly emptied into the dumpster at the end of the night.

Food supposed to be donated to area food banks is thrown away, and don't think about bringing it home!If you are found taking food out of the trash, you will be fired immediately for theft.

The bottom line is that Whole Foods is a fucking joke, a prime example of corporate dishonesty.Wake up, consumers!

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I am not alone! I have had a love/hate thing going with WF for some time but my tipping point to the hater side just came when I opened up a $10.99 pound package of organic deli turkey to find it was discolored with the tell-tale cold cut rainbow on it that comes from not being fresh. This is not the first time I have had to throw away seriously overpriced food that I have wasted my hard earned money on. I have also had awful experiences with egg salad that was literally doused in vinegar, baked goods that were as dry as cardboard and roast trukey that you could break your jaw trying to chew. My advice to the North Easterners that are fed up with Whole Foods, go to Wegmans if you have one near you. Their Nature's Marketplace deparments sell many of the same things as Whole Foods, for less money. I will take my grocery list, and wallet elsewhere and never shop at WF again.

Anonymous said...

In their Union Square location, Whole Foods just put in two new automated recycling kiosks -- which users say now make it more difficult for them to recycle, not easier. did the story:

customer said...

The employee who listed all the examples of customer comments, using these as reasons for not liking customers, sounds like s/he is looking for trouble. There are always going to be rude customers in retail but that's no reason to take it out on the majority of people who just want to get their groceries and get out without a hassle.

""Why don't you have (assine, overly picky flavor of product)?"
I'm sorry ma'am/sir but we don't have that. We do have 14 other choices just like it but of course thats not good enough for your pretentious ass."

Who are you to decide someone is being overly picky about what they spend their money on? If you have such contempt for people who care about what they eat, or perhaps need to be on a special diet for health reasons, maybe you shouldn't be working there.

I think some people are attracted to these jobs because they are abusive people and it gives them the opportunity to abuse, as evidenced by this person's statement that they're "having a blast", even though they hate the customers.

Whole Foods is notorious for having employees who make rude or suggestive comments directed at women, etc., and even gang up and play tricks on the customers. Yes, it's that pitiful. High school, or nursery school? I've seen and been subjected to this type of behavior at every Whole Foods of which I've been a regular customer. It's obviously coming down from the top because it's rampant. There are some great people, too, but most of them don't seem to last long. The punks run the decent people out.

I, too, would love to see a direct competitor to WF, especially in organic produce, which treats customers and employees with respect. They will have my business immediately.

Daniel said...

i have one comment could some one please tell me how to post a video or recordings. i apologize that i'm not the best at typing. I would love to send a out a message about the great, unbelieveable, spectacualar, ground breaking, over priced, yupee, one of a bee hipster grocery store that can't even cut $*#%ing lunch meat right but at the sametime still charge you $9.50 ld for domestic ham......... As stated before i apologize that i'm not the best typer.

Thank you very much

Anonymous said...

Whole foods in my area is fairly good about customer service, but as some employees have told me that when abusive Supervisors mistreat them, little, or nothing is done about it, especially if that Supervisor has a sexual orientation that is not heterosexual. Also, it makes me sick the way WFM pumps eastern religion, and most of the Employees seem to despise anyone, or anything that is Judeo Christian. An example being their refusal to sell any produce from Isreal.
They are not very inclusive are they?

Anonymous said...

Been dealing with these folks at the store level for a couple of years.

I have many issues with this company and it's practices.

I dislike virtually every store I have dealt with in this chain

Rude, poor social skilled thugs for the large part. Many look like street thugs...hey, they act like street thugs too, cause that is what they are. The Parole Dept must have some sort of deal with these store's HR dept.

Then there is the snotty female variety of Employee. Often in the Whole Body dept pretending they don't see you.

I have met a few nice Employees "Team Members", Har! "Team Members"! I feel for them. I hope they are able to get a better position deserving of their talents.

I am so happy to see what has been posted here.

I would like to hear elaboration on the "great Benefits" these slugs get. Mind you, I know You get what you pay for and I believe whole foods is getting exactly what they are paying for. I have done some reading on this Company and found the consensus to be they receive sub par insurance and low pay. A good rate is around $13 an Hour and not likely to go higher. I believe they like to get rid of team members once they hit that threshold and display a wish to go higher up the food chain. I welcome corrections.

There are many levels why I am not a fan of this chain including the self righteous asses who shop there.

I appreciate reading all your posts. Even the shill's.

Anonymous said...

i've worked at whole foods twice for a total of eight years. the first time i was fired for missing a meeting at 10 at night. and the second time i left for a better job. the place truly is horrible. the majority of the individual stores administrative teams act like it's a high school clique for grown ups. and it just trickles down from there to the departments.

it's silly how much they tell the employees to engage the customer, like it's a car dealership. i mean it's ok to be friendly and helpful but all i could think when i they told me is "i would hate if i went shopping and the clerk wouldn't shut up"

they also have a policy that you HAVE TO offer to do a carry out if they have more than one bag even if they're super super light weight and even if they appear to be able bodied. which can come across creepy in some instances.

the main benefit working there i would say is the 20% off if you do some price comparisons at your usual grocery store and buy the less expensive or equal priced items at WF with your discount. you can save sooo much money this way.

when i worked there the first time i was full time and had great benefits like a 401k, full medical with a credit card for paying deductibles with a cap at $2500. which was pretty sweet since i didn't get sick that often so i paid for dentist's visits and eye exams with the card because it was just extra money. the second time i worked there i was part time and didn't qualify for all of that because i didn't reach a total amount of service hours. meh. i didn't really care.

when i was first there i really was taken in with all of their propaganda about caring about their workers, community and environment then when i was fired for missing a late night meeting(which they did every month) it made me think "is this how a company treats some one who gave them five years of their life, straight out of high school?" i wasn't a problem employee i got along with everyone on the department except for the assistant team leader, who didn't get along with anyone. and she's the one who fired me. granted i was on my final warning for being late 2 times with in the past 6 months but at the mom and pop store and the neighborhood burger joint i worked at when i was in high school, i was never threatened with termination for being late. because those were places that actually cared about their employees.

if you really don't like the way a specific store is being run or just want to throw them for a loop just learn the names of all of the department team leaders and the store team leader, talk to the employees about how they like their jobs to see if they are just crappy employees or working in a crappy environment, don't be blatant about it because they know they aren't allowed to talk about a lot of stuff. and look for as spoiled products buy them and right away and decline replacements. then call the corporate office and complain. then just nit pick every time your in the store and find more reasons to call corporate until they replace everyone in a management position. i really hate that place.

Anonymous said...

Whole Foods Market is full of shit. Their attendance policy for employees is ridiculous - you get points for not being at work/being more than 7 minutes late, no matter the reason. I was basically fired for being sick a few times (seriously ill, had doctors notes), for getting seriously injured and having to go to the emergency room right before my shift started (the shift leader saw me bleeding all over the place and did not care), for being in a car wreck that totaled my car while coming to work, and for being so sick that I passed out at the register. I actually worked for four days straight with a 100+ fever because I didn't want to get any closer to being fired, sneezing all over people's food and I'm sure giving them tons of germs, and when I was finally sent home because I couldn't stand up any longer I was STILL given an attendance point (for missing the last two hours of my shift). I was finally fired for being two minutes late.
So if you're wondering why the WFM staff is rude, it's because they're stressed, miserable, and probably working while incredibly ill.

Not only that, but their claims of being an organic grocery store are complete bullshit. In the department I worked in, none of the organic products were actually organic because all of our food prep utensils were washed with a non-organic cleanser. Before the recent audit of the store that was held to keep the store's certification as an organic grocer, all of this dishwashing fluid was replaced temporarily with the organic fluid and we were told to hide the non-organic one. Of course, it was back the day after the audit.

So, in other words, I'd say that 90% of the "organic" food you buy at WFM does not actually adhere to organic standards. Plus, a sick employee who was desperate to keep their job probably sneezed all over it. Enjoy!

Colette said...

I posted about a year ago, regarding my negative employment experience, and subsequent disillusionment, working in mid level management for a substantive chunk of time in the Pac. N.W. for Whole Foods. Of course I have not spent a penny, or set foot in one of their stores since leaving. The city I live in has abundant choices, and far better places to spend money as a natural foods consumer. I STILL HATE WHOLE FOODS MARKET. I gleefully sneer at their locations when passing, delight in adverse press directed at them, or the occasional protesters outside their stores.

On occasion I run into someone in public life I worked with there - it has been over 3 years since I left. More often than not they were run off in some vindictive, unpleasant treatment scenario, over little or nothing, and hate the company as much as me. If someone still works there they tend to have shame and embarrassment with all the nonsense they have witnessed in their tenured survival... and are economically trapped, dreaming and hoping of quitting. Long story, short version, any one that spends any time employed with them knows the score. To me continued employment with WFM is no different than a complacent German public in WW2... harsh? Sure, and happily stand by my words. But most people in the U.S. are economically trapped, and hate their work. That issue in our culture is far more broad than my post here.

In my post whole foods meanderings, I enrolled in a graduate level program in Human Resources Mgmt. at a local university... I'm almost finished. It has been great. I can't tell you how many times I have been in class and recalled how I witnessed wonderfully illegal things, that were done to other 'team members' or to me directly. Flat violation of multiple federal employment laws, witnessed by others. It is a shame I didn't know then what I know now!!

2 things Whole Foods Team Members might consider.

1) Seeking legal counsel against your employer with a valid violation of law regarding your treatment as an employee actually ends up in court less than 10% of the time. Employers can not bear the time, expense, negative publicity... or risk the potential for a high financial award in your favor. Your case, when well represented will very likely be settled out of court... with both sides signing non disclosure agreements. So in your employment future you just quit there... not like they give anyone a 'reference' anyway. Unless you count 1-800- I worked there as a reference. That inconsiderate practice of theirs is just more evidence of their admission and paranoia as an organization of their ongoing campaign of misdeeds toward working folks.

2) All employees should read Title VII of the U.S. Code. It is the area of federal law, that covers employment, and supersedes all state law and local statutes. It is an amazing form of self armament against bad treatment that few knucklehead mid managers anywhere have any understanding of.... and violate it constantly.

My observations of WFM were rich with opportunity for litigation... I did not understand it then, I just thought they sucked.

They did, and do suck. But the best way to settle the score with a jerk, and shut them up, is make them pay you for their mistakes. A chunk of change goes a long way to improving battered self esteem so many Whole Foods Team Members have endured.

Colette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

yes, i am also a former employee of wf and they are definitely lacking in leaders with any managerial experience. they rely on negative reinforcement. it's sad because i truly loved the work I was doing, but i am a very outspoken person who believes in wright and wrong and for those reasons, i and many others (Extremely qualified) were never promoted and those who had no clue about food or how to manage people are running the store. One of their "core values" is team member happiness. it should be changed to team member unhappiness since the majority of them are.

Anonymous said...

I'm currently a WFM employee and have a love/hate relationship with them. I recently received my first write-up. I failed to keep up with my doctors appoints after a workers comp issue. I needed time off for appointments but I actually had my TL say I ask for to much time off. I asked for morning shifts not for time off. I tired working around the schedule that was given to me but my TL changed me from mornings to nights than back. I cancelled 4 appointments because of this and had a laps of 6 weeks with no appointments. I got that call into the HR department. The person in HR was rude, combative and thinks she has a medical degree. Even asking why I wasn't going to physical therapy. She made the comment that, it shouldn't be taking this long. Again, your a doctor? I tried to transfer to another store closer to home. Wouldn't you know it. My references didn't check out and it took me three weeks to find out what they were. It all came down to HR, not my work ethic, knowledge, passion or dedication. I asked if HR could confirm my references in an email and she said she wasn't comfortable doing that and passed me on to a ASTL. I challenged them and no one wanted to man up. I love WF because they help the community and we support our local farmers. I'm just thinking it's time for me to go.

VikzAtl said...

I shop at Whole Foods reluctantly, and why i go there is because it is the closest grocery store near my neighborhood, and often I am looking for more esoteric herbs or seafood that is not farmed, or its simply too late or too far for me to go to other grocery stores of my choice. I refuse to buy absolutely more than is necessary (often my bill is like less than $10 and that for a wholefoods client is a rarity), and refuse to pay their price gouging for anything else. And I hate the feeling I get of being part of this so called hoity/toity group of people that shop there (or to be seen shopping there.) I just got some coho salmon filet tonite from WF, and it was riddled with bones, at $15/lb it better be clean (naturally I always smell the fish as soon as I get it from the fish monger, as to make sure it doesn't smell off).

Anyway, I dont understand people that would pay 3 times the price of fruits and other stuff when you can get the same if not better at local supermarkets. Most of the people whom I see buying at WF know nothing about food, they often buy the prepared foods (which means they don't cook) or are under the assumption that they are getting better food?! If you have an H-Mart in your neighborhood (or even in your state) you will never buy fruits/veggies at WF or any other supermarkets again.

Anonymous said...

whole foods market st.louis galleria is one of the worst places to work if you are straight.They love gay employees and they love non christian drug addicts too.They will take the side of a gay person over a straight person if there is a dispute between the two people.Oh and don't for a second believe that there food is fresh I know first hand it is not.

Anonymous said...

so true. they have too many gays and wierdos with tons of tatts or piercings. and illegals who dont speak english and unhealthy people who dont support health foods (obese, anorexic, etc). the employees are apathetic and unintelligent. i hate whole foods. they discontinue favorite products, are overpriced, sell unflavorful produce (picked hard and unripe). sell items that contain sugar and palm kernel oil, etc) just because package say "natural". they dont taste test or do quality control. they dont want customer feedback. they are very stubborn. everything is x.99 cents, not true markup. they have bad attitude. theyre bad vibes are carcinogenic. there is nothing good about whole foods. and there is a lot very evil abt them.

Anonymous said...

I used to work at the Devon store near Philadelphia which is part of the mid atlantic region. While I did not find that rotten food was sold at the deli or anywhere (actually it was very fresh), I did have an issue with their attendance policy. I would not have had as much of an issue had they not made the store meetings at 6 a.m. count the same as scheduled work shifts. When I started working there every team had a meeting once a month and the store had a meeting 4 times a year. They started having these store meetings once a month on top of the team meetings which was entirely unnecessary. Everybody that worked in the store was expected to be there at 6 a.m. regardless of whether they had school, kids to take to school or had to work a much later shift that day. If you could not make the meeting you had to use one of your call outs which was ridiculous. I am a student and last year I had a little trouble getting to work on time from one of my classes at west chester and I got placed on final warning. I take full responsibility for this and I started showing up early for my shifts in order to ensure that I was not late. Now my mother is an alcoholic and one morning I woke up at 5 a.m. to the sound of breaking glass in the kitchen and my mother being delirious. I ended up taking her to the hospital cause I was worried. Later, I went to my classes and showed up for my scheduled work shift on time. When I clocked in I realized there had been a store meeting (which my alarm was actually set for) that I forgot about because of the morning events. I tried to explain to someone what happened, but a week later I was called into the office and fired for a "no call no show" and I was told that in order to be "fair" to all the team members they had to fire me. Now that was a big crock of bullshit because it was only my team leader that counted missed meetings as a missed shift of work. All of the others let people miss 3 a year. Overall my (2 year) experience with the whole foods I worked for has given me the impression that they act like they care about their employees' success including their education, but when it comes down to it they really make it hard for students to balance school and work. I know that at several other stores, students and part time employees are never scheduled for the morning meetings and that makes a whole lot of sense. There is no reason that I should have had to put (full time) school second to a (part time) work meeting in which nothing was accomplished except for "team member appreciations" and ignoring valid issues that were brought up.

scotty ice said...

I am a former employee of Whole Foods. I was subject to quid pro quo sexual harassment by my supervisor. When I made it clear that no relationship outside of work would continue she tried to get me fired, etc. When I reported said sexual harassment to ALL THREE Store Team Leaders, instead of addressing the harassment, they decided to retaliate against me.

Long story short I quit, received unemployment, and currently have a lawsuit filed against Whole Foods.

What a horrible place to work. Fascist is the most apt term to describe the working environment.

Here is a link to my pending sexual harassment lawsuit:

Anonymous said...

i am an employee, on final warning for "my till being off" . I have been with the company for 1 year in MA. can i quit and collect unemployment? i heard they dont pay unemployment because they say its your own fault. Is this true. They lied and said my till was off on when i know it wasn't because i counted it my self at the end of my shift , which we are not allowed to do..

Anonymous said...

... if it's so horrible, then why are so many of you still shopping there? It's so curious to me. So many of you have talked about WF spouting about fair trade, organic, healthy eating and how it's all bullshit. There is so little about the actual good they do.

Like each store has a 5% day once a month. 5% of that days sales are given to an organization of their choice. They hire in store and regional local foragers to bring in new and exciting local products. They give out micro-loans to small businesses to get them to a level where they can supply multiple WF stores and increase their business. They constantly have team member trainings in many departments to educate their employees on new initiatives and products. There are so many good things that you're missing. They have eliminated plastic bags for environmental purposes. Every store's marketing employee has a monthly donation budget for the community.

And lots of their employees are happy. I know a lot of very happy Whole Foods employees who are excited about food and selling so many premium quality products. If Trader Joe's carries the same product, chances are the products are price matches. Also, many of their private label 365 products are incredibly well priced and taste very good. Yes, they have $50 bottles of Olive Oil. They also have a 16oz bottle for $6.99.

There is so much good.

It's a company, and a large company at that. There are going to be unhappy employees. There are going to be rude interactions. Not everything is going to be perfect. But they try. Every day they try to do something better than big conventional chains.

Maybe instead of ranting and raving about how terrible they are, try for just one moment, to come up with a solution to your problem. Then email the store closest to you about it, and CC that stores regional office. If you come up with a really good solution, or at least a suggestion, and you don't get a positive response back from them... than maybe I'm wrong.

But I know I happen to love my Whole Foods. I shop at multiple locations. Sometimes I get a less than helpful response from an employee, but a lot of the time I get someone really wonderful who smiles as they're cutting into some exotic fruit I've never tried. Or I accidentally bump into an employee who is a Foodie like me, and they tell me about 3 or 4 different wonderful products that they love. I feel good about buying my food there, and with some planning... honestly... we don't break the bank at my house. I find with the right planning and taking my time to look around and ask questions, not only do I feel confident about the products I purchase - but I believe the quality of the product is fair for the price.

There's too much hate in the world. Calm down. Offer a solution and the next time you're near a Whole Foods, go inside and try to find 1 positive thing that WF is doing right.

...see you at the market!

Anonymous said...

The person above obviously works for, or holds stock in, Whole Foods Market.

Whatever good Whole Foods Market may accomplish in no ways makes up for, or negates, the abhorrent things they have done.

Their image is their best asset. It is a hollow image, hence the elevated level of defense critics are likely to encounter.

Again, you can see a good example of this image defense above.

No, you won't see me at the market. Maybe the farmers market, but not whole paycheck market.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't hold stock in or work for Whole Foods Market. I did at one time work for them. I am involved in my local markets and I think they're paving the way. I still have a lot of friends who work there and a lot of them are overall happy employees.

They're setting standards for natural and organic standards in this country. They're striving for something better.

"Whatever good Whole Foods Market may accomplish in no ways makes up for, or negates, the abhorrent things they have done." I would like to know, exactly, what you think it is that they have done. Seriously, bullet point me a list. Tell me all of the nasty horrible things they do that negates the good things.

I happen to know a lot of passionate employees who love food and want to sell the best. I'm always finding better value buys at Whole Foods than at any of the other grocery stores I walk into.

It's nice to have a place where you can get speciality items. I know many people who shop at Whole Foods only for those items they can't find anywhere else.

You're acting like Whole Foods is doing a disservice to this country. I'm not saying Whole Foods is God, I'm saying I think they're a pretty great grocery store.

I love my Whole Foods Market experiences. Both as a customer and as an employee. And I hope Whole Foods sustains for a long, long, LONG time.

Anonymous said...

I'd also like to know if you have in any way, tried to make any suggestion to what they could do better???

Colette said...

Hey Anonymous "I love WFM", I think you should just go shop at whole foods and get quit reading a blog about despising a sluggish bloated greedy corporation. I am a very conscious consumer, but would never call myself a foodie. I'd rather eat off of 7-11 shelves until the day I die, than spend one red cent in a WFM. My choice based purely on my treatment there as an employee there.

But there is their negative profit based market practices I observed as a Produce ATL with 20 years regional experience in the natural foods / produce industry. Constantly favoring conventional products in margin based choice vs. organic quality and idealistic commitment. I think their size has spurred the growth of crummy exploitive companies like Organic Valley Dairies- Organic milk? fine...Organic dead ultra pasteurized dead milk from hell knows where..Read the labels...corn syrup in Haagen Daz and Hansens soda, tell some one but it stays on the shelf - because it sells.

John Mackie's anti union politics, people have the right to collectively bargain under federal law, he was hostile, anti labor out spoken, along with Howard Shultz (Starbucks) and the Walton family (Walmart) there before any of the current nonsense with public employees in the mid west. John Mackie is anti labor, greedy, anti American, anti middle class. I'd love to organize their stores.

The manufacture of cheap conventional products in the deli and bakery...packaged pretty seems healthy...same things sold to prepare in every mainstream eatery in town...crap low rent conventional ingredients...take me on an all access week to any store I'll happily show you the horrors.. in the foods, and the personnel ...Be a manager there and be asked to lie about your team members to get them to quit, or so you can fire them to save money - or get axed your self...I walked, often working 16 days in a row...for what? I hate that damned place...nothing cool, or positive about is just a smiley fake healthy corporate hell wal mart in terms of policy, politics, ideals, and largely mainstream junk products, mediocre wages and hostility driven work culture.
So Mr Anonymous with your face buried up WFM's pants... take a hike to the I'm so happy, I'll give all my money to WFM and anti union John Mackie page. I'll happily rub your nose in their falsehood... any store, any location, any day... on your dime.
I think you have one right idea, focusing on local markets... but being a cheerleader for a bloated megalithic dehumanizing hell I think YOU can do better yourself.

Anonymous said...

What they can do better is not actively and illegally thwart union organization and retaliate against employees who organize.

They can start addressing the litany of sexual harassment issues that arise under their management model. They would do well to investigate claims of sexual harassment rather than actively retaliate against employees who report said harassment.

They can quit gouging customers with 30-50% margins on every thing they sell.

I could go on and on, but your only concern is protecting Whole Foods image, truth be damned.

Anonymous said...

As a former employee I can relate several experiences where Whole Foods failed to 'Walk it's talk' as they are so quick to proclaim is their modus operendi.

One instance I was 'counseled' for sending an e-mail suggesting that our store was terribly dirty and needed immediate cleaning. I was asked specifically why I sent the email to a regional coordinator, and if my intent was somehow malicious.

A second instance I was quickly rebuffed when I suggested to an ASTL that delivery vehicles not be allowed to idle their engines while unloading. This was both a nuisance to our neighbors, and to the employees and customers in the building. Typically diesel exhaust would invade the entire store through the back loading area and through the ventilation system.

The last instance I will mention is the routine occurrence of the recycling bins being emptied into the trash, rather than recycled. This was a continuous issue.

Colette said...

Just reading through the posts since just posting a few nights back... whole foods does suck. You'd never see me in one of their places.

WFM is to natural foods, what porn is to sex. Supposedly relative, a facsimile of an experience.
I'll take the real thing at any other local place, whole foods is a pre packaged phony culture where the wankers, and poseurs go.

Who cares about the 5% day? They don't! Who cares if they give a few crumbs to some charity, when they treat workers like hell. It is only done for clever image crap to fool you into thinking they are part of a given community. They have well over 200,000 workers in 3 countries.., they are not a part of any community, except the profit driven anti human Wall Street community. The Kroger stores in my area do the same lying 'we give part of our sales' to some cause... a feel good corporate predatory liar game that is designed to get you to part with more of your money. So they can send it to Austin and Wall Street.... Working at WFM is no different than working at Walmart, Safeway, Target, or Bank of America... Just some crummy corporate job, selling a trumped up phony version of something that can be found in an authentic local natural grocer.

Work there, shop there fine- but see it for what it is. Deception and falsehood. It is not like anyone that knows, or cares a lick, about anything relative to natural foods culture or sustainability would set foot there...My friends tease me for having worked there. Hell yeah I'm embarrassed, but everyone does something stupid in their lives. Having a whole foods shopping bag, is like having a public T.V. sticker on your car and thinking you are 'liberal', or cool.

If you work there quit, If you shop there find somewhere else to spend your money, and actually contribute to a locally sustainable economy.

Anonymous said...

Here is another one. Seeing a pattern here, anyone?

Anonymous said...

and their pizza sucks... pure garbage

Anonymous said...

Shop at the krogers, jewels, and safeways. Comparable items are much less expensive and the workers are union. WFM really sucks !?$@

Anonymous said...

I work at WF in md,(for about 7 mths.) and I really love working and shopping there. Our staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. The team leaders are approachable and motivating. The store I work in is kind of small, so everyone pretty much knows everyone and seems to get along well. We get a great discount,and gain sharing! WF just started a program where they have an animal welfare rating system for the meat. I only work their part time but I think it's a pretty cool place to work. I have not purchased items from prepared foods, but I'm gonna ask some questions about what you guys are saying to see if this stuff is true. And I will also say that I have learned more about healthy eating from working here than from anywhere else.. And yes,they have the whole planet foundation where they give microloans to women in impovershed countries to helP them get out of poverty. We also give customers 5 cent bag refunds for each bag they bring in, and even have a program where they put salad bars in schools. Maybe WF is different in different markets but the one where I work is very different than what I hear others describe.I do wish they would put more stores in urban areas though so everyone can have access to healthy eating.

Anonymous said...

i also quit whole foods after realizing they are a farce.
recently there has been much debate over the opening of the jamaica plain store in boston. I have witnessed fake community members starting discussions about WFM in local businesses (much like our 5% anonymous writer). When we see them around town talking about the benefits of "competition" and other points they're teaching them to speak on at regional most of us see through them and are able to laugh them out of the place. I hope they can laugh them out of town. I tried commenting on this thread (see below) and am not sure who doesn't work for WF. And was even accussed of being a fake person? I will let you read and see if you can tell who is real and who is a robot.

Anonymous said...

can i please comment on how WF gives micro-loans to businesses stared by women in developing countries? First of all if it is a loan don't say its a donation. As a cashier i asked you the customer for that money (mandatory job requirement). If these women pay these loans back do you get your money back? Same goes for the salad bars in schools these are from donations given by customers.

Anonymous said...

Here is how Whole Foods gets down for their "Team Building Mission": Drunk and in a giant pollution belching limousine.

Anonymous said...

Oh by the way. The drunk person to the right in the picture is Edward Kipela who works at the Whole Foods in Rochester, Michigan. He is an assistant store team leader.

The person to the left is Mr. Seely, the Seafood team leader. He was recently fired for falsifying dates for seafood. He was rehired as soon as possible. Whole Foods had to fire him to cover their ass when the health inspector discovered his dishonest dating of seafood.

Anonymous said...

WF here is cheaper than dominick's and fresher too. The employees are a million times nicer and actually smile as opposed to dominick's employees who regularly treat me horribly and curse in front of my children. Too the idiot complaining about not getting unemployment for quitting you are the problem with our entitlement society. Find another job before you quit like the rest of normal American's do.

Anonymous said...

Ignorance is the biggest problem with our society today. Unemployment Insurance is not an entitlement. Quitting due to a hostile work environment, sexual harassment, or any other illegal activity is perfectly acceptable; which is why an employee who quits under such circumstances is allowed to receive unemployment insurance.

Ignorance is your problem, don't make it mine.

Anonymous said...

Actually unemployment insurance is technically a government entitlement, not a God given right. We are fortunate that we live in a place that has such an program.

Whole Foods, at least where I live, isn't as bad as these people make it out to be. In fact, these imaginative descriptions defy any objective observance of most successful companies, excluding some monster mega banks. While I would not dismiss legitimate grievances from those who happen to be in proximity to bad apples, I would question the wisdom of blanket condemnations of the whole company based on individual experiences. These ravings come across as the opinions of the a few theatrical and disaffected people, who instead of bettering their own lives and those of their neighbors (by opening up their own market, or just moving on emotionally), tear down others to make themselves feel better.
In full disclosure, WF is the only place I can buy produce within 20 miles that doesn't spoil the moment I bring it home. So yeah, I like Whole Foods.

Anonymous said...

When I worked at whole foods it was as awful as everyone is saying. I was horrified that you have to ask permission to use the bathroom and they can and do tell you no. It happened to me quite a few times. I had to pee so bad I almost pissed myself. Then i just stopped drinking fluids while i worked so i wouldn't have to use the bathroom. There was a pregnant girl working there too and she would vomit into the little trash can by the register while she was ringing people up. I mean really, can you believe that they actually tell people they cannot use the toilet. Even a pregnant girl? I worked in the New Orleans store and starting pay was $8/hour; a friend in a Manhattan store was also paid $8/hour. If that makes sense to you, then I guess you really just think that people who work at grocery stores don't deserve to be able to pay their bills. Many employees of WFM are on food stamps, especially if they have families, and the company is rolling in money. And customers really are a piece of work. Please think twice if you believe that the customer is always right, because you aren't. Sorry if this bursts your bubble. Yes, if something is rotten you should return it. When I worked there the company seemed very willing to accept returns (politely) even in bogus seeming situations without incident. But as a cashier you are abused beyond belief by supervisors, fellow employees and the customers. I found that people really bring their crazy out at the grocery store and take it out on anyone they can. In all instances as a customer, whatever you are buying or complaining about, try to do it nicely. No one likes to be yelled at over something that isn't their fault. Your cashier or waitress or barista is not your punching bag. And if you get a less than enthusiastic response, remember that working in the service industry sucks. It sucks a lot. The worker could be having a bad day, sick, family troubles, or maybe couldn't go home for the holidays because they work at whole foods, a place that cannot and will not ever support whole life in anyway. It was so miserable pushing carts in the parking lot on christmas eve instead of traveling home for the holidays. There are certain jobs you get and accept that you can't get holidays off, and it sucks but it's okay, because you love your job or its busy season is the holiday season. But to get paid $8 to push carts on christmas eve and thanksgiving, well, its just not worth it. and you really resent those last minute shoppers. those of you that love WFM, its okay, just know its a sham and don't yell at your cashier because they have nothing to do with your bad day and quality control is not their job. Go ahead and shop there if you like it, just don't get too upset when stressed out underpaid workers aren't kissing your ass.

Anonymous said...

Unemployment insurance is no more an entitlement than health insurance, or car insurance. We pay for it. It is not a freely given benefit.

What makes Wholefoods so abhorrent is their lofty claims of espousing altruism and social justice, while woefully falling short concerning even the most basic of employee rights.

Anonymous said...

by the way, just so you people know (and so i can stop having to deal with people freaking out about "freshness")

brown meat has absolutely NOTHING to do with how old/fresh it is. meat turns brown when it touches other meat. simple as that...

so yeah, the meat team members should do all they can to make sure it's placed properly with parchment papers inbetween cuts of very expensive meat, so it can stay beautful,but for the love of GOD, STOP telling me that the meat's not fresh because a small part of it is a little brown. deal with it people...

rant over... hate on whole foods or not, but i get a paycheck weather you shop or not! there's always money for whole foods, even in a recession. when it comes down to it, no one else will give me the amount of health insurance, days off, and convienience i need in a job and i'll work here as long as they pay me $16 dollars an hour to put meat in a case...

Anonymous said...

As a former WfM employee I want you all to know the reason I left is because I knew I would never get to heaven if I continued to work for such an immoral, dishonest, and downright evil entity! unlike most former TMs i was in a leadership positon making top dollar but my heart goes out to all my friends still there who wont get even a dollar more raise per year if there lucky.All of the evil deeds posted here i can say first hand are true. I can only pray that karma catches up to them and when judgement day comes they will be thrown into the lake of fire with the Beast! my faith gives me confidence my prayers will be answered.

Anonymous said...

4 reasons why I hate Whole Foods:

The food in their prepared deli is NOT made with organic ingredients.

The prepared salads are NOT made with organic ingredients.

The salad bar is NOT filled with organic vegetables.


Anonymous said...

Former produce team leader here. As much as I tried to get more local produce to sell, regional management would say no. Whole Foods definitely doesn't give a damn about local, it's all about their markup.

Anonymous said...

Former produce team leader here. As much as I tried to get more local produce to sell, regional management would say no. Whole Foods definitely doesn't give a damn about local, it's all about their markup.

Anonymous said...

I've been eating at whole foods Bowery since it first opened. When it opened in the neighborhood a lot of small businesses in the neighberhood got affected by them and had to shut down. I didn't pay much attention to that because I was excited to eat at whole foods every day and have something different every other day.
In 2009 I opened a bakery and my goal was to create a bakery that serves healthy baked goods for an affordable price that are made with pita.
Recently I started baking organic Pitas at my bakery and was so happy to one of the few pita bakeries to offer organic pitA bread.
So now I needed to find customers to buy my pita bread.
So I thought of whole foods. Why don't I go and try to sell them some organic pita bread because the ones they sell are not organic and taste awful.
So I took a couple if sample bags and stooped by whole foods Bowery and asked for the head of bakery department and I was told she was not available but that the next person in charge would take the samples from me and give her the samples.
So I dropped the samples with my business card and went home. Waited a couple of days but never heard from anyone so I went there again grabbed dinner and went to the bakery section to look for the manager.
I was told that someone will call her for me sobi waited.
While waiting I saw the sample bags of pita were laying the untouched under a bunch of other boxes and stuff. I wasn't happy but hey what can I do. So a couple of minutes after the bakery manager showed up. I introduced myself and explained to her the concept of the bakery and pointed her to the organic all natural samples I left her. She promised to try them and that I should contact her the next day. So I called the next day and after trying several times she tells me right now we are not looking to bring in any new items. I was a little sad but as a business owner you learn how to deal with a lot of sad things. About a month after that my wife and I went to whole foods to pick up some cereal my wife calls me and said look what new in the bakery section. There is a new pit bread brand on tbe shelves. So I looked at the bread and the brand and I saw that the bread wasn't organic, and was full of preservatives and the bread was hard like a rock. I wasn't happy because I felt that I was offering them something much healthier but they really didn't care. So I decided to take a fresh sample to them the next day and give it another try thinking that maybe now they will be open to new products. So I tale the samples and there again and ask for the bakery manager but she wasn't there again. So I left her some samples. Tbe person I left the samples with assured me to give the samples to the bakery manager which she did.
They next day after coming home I went to whole foods to pick up something to est and headed to the bakery department and asked for the manager. She came after a couple of minutes. So I asked her if she got the samples and yes she did and she liked the bread but it's not going to be possible to buy from " because right now they are not accepting new products " also that there was no empty shelves for another brand of pita bread while the other brand had 7 or 8 shelves of stale pita bread. That Is when I drew the line. Now I don't go to whole foods unless I really have to. It's not only what happened with the pita bread but now that I've become a learned foodie I can tell that the quality of their prepared foods is like any "gourmet" convenience store in the neighborhood. I'm not spending my money at whole foods no more.

Anonymous said...

WF should change it's name to WTF!

Anonymous said...

Ok here goes. I too am now a former WFM employee and as some of you I totally bought all the hype of the great employee relationships. I was a former Wild Oats employee and our store was bought out by Whole Foods. I thought everything was ok until people started getting let go right and left. It was done very carefully and for different reasons, most were slightly weird. I have been very loyal and my dept. was doing good numbers and margins. I was always on time and my job was always done. I took pride in my dept. and loved my customers and fellow workers. I was railroaded and fired for reasons that were not true and was not allowed to defend myself. They did infact replace me with a younger person with a lot less experience and of course smaller wage. I had years of experience and did my job without anyone having to tell me or direct me what to do. I could do alone what it took several people to do. Now they have refused me unemployment insurance. I cannot understand how after all the years of missing events just to work because they needed me because I cared so much, they could discard me like a old shoe, with no regard as to my well being of which they professed to care about. A lot of the blogs above about employees getting fired sound exactly like what happened to me. I will never shop there again. I'm sure they don't care. I have always felt that if you did your job right and took pride in it you would be rewarded, I'm so rethinking that. They should not be alowed to do this to good hard working people.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm sorry that happened to you...I have written about my contempt here more than once. In my case all the misfortune shoved on my by this crummy corporation was the best thing that ever happened in my working life. I responded to my challenge by getting a graduate education in H.R. - after being in dept head level leadership at WFM... I live a carefully designed life... owning my modest home outright, same with a car... all accomplished since leaving WFM 5 years ago. I've never shopped there or eased my contempt.... but I'll never have to work in retail hell for shoddy misguided liars ever again. In time my wounds healed and I found a far better place for myself. Good luck to you... and anyone else clipped by the violence that is WFM.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that and I am so happy you were able to do that. I however because of my age was forced into early retirement and can only go for a part time job, that pays $6.00 less a hour. I still don't know how I am going to make it and keep my house. Like you I will make it through but I so wish there was a way to stop Whole Foods from doing that to even one more person. My job was like a extended family and I looked forward each and every day to going in and taking pride in doing what I knew I did well. I never in a million years thought this would happen to me. I knew this kind of thing went on in the big corp. world but in a grocery store? I am going to try and fight it but it's only my word against this monster. For those of you who are still in the Sunshine stage of your job with WFM, wake up. There is still time for you to leave with dignity.

Anonymous said...

I worked at WFM from August 2007 until April of 2011, the vast majority of my employment being spent as a cashier. I don't suppose that any sane or rational person could consistently do a job like that without feeling a great deal of stress and anxiety, and I in no way enjoyed my final months of employment. I was absolutely miserable working there.

Having said that, other employee comments here on this blog's combox have been utterly unfair towards WFM as an employer. Retail jobs, no matter the company, require a very specific type of personality in order to thrive within. I admit, I completely lack such a personality, and I'm sure a lot of the other commentators do as well.

My experience's Pros and Cons:


- The pay was decent, and it supported me through many years of college. I averaged maybe 750 dollars per pay period.

- The staff are usually fun and intelligent folks, and I enjoyed a great deal of the friends I made there.

- I enjoyed being introduced to new concepts such a fair trade and organic food in general.


- WFM has a world view which simply contradicts my own. I felt consistent resistance within myself at various meetings or other means through which this world view was communicated. In essence, I felt a lot of New Age mysticism within my store. Think I'm silly? I know as fact that, when our store moved to another location, Mackey specifically picked a certain date for numerological reasons. Many examples of this sort of thing, combined with merchandise, simply lead me away from their mentality.

- The staff are required to exhume an intense passion for the company, and only such a person is rewarded with promotions. Such is life, I'm sure, but retail jobs just aren't worth the type of soul-selling WFM often requires. It is hurtful to have to deal with various yuppie customers, and be downright insulted by them, whilst knowing you have no safe recourse within which to air out your anxiety. Example: I was born in England, and after several years of living in the USA, have an odd accent. A woman once accused be in line of faking an accent, and even went to store management to ask personal information about me. I was literally grilled by the store manager about this, along with my direct boss, and was almost written up despite the fact that I was not rude to her. They try very hard to weed out those who are not super chipper.

- Receiving praise from a customer results in "cool beans", something you wear on your vest like a boy scout badge. The problem? Grocery folks would give out free food as "samples", and communicate to the customer the idea of cool beans. They would get rewards for basically bribing customers.

- Cashiers have very, very strict standards to which their tills are held. It is amazingly difficult to be friendly, scan fast, make conversation, peddle items, and have a whole weeks worth of pans be within 5 dollars of where they should be.

- Cashiers are rewarded more for conversation than they are for efficient scanning.

LNQ said...

I just made the post about being a cashier. I have a question for any WFM employees (current or former) who may be reading.

Does anyone know, for a fact, what Team leaders make on average?

Anonymouse said...

An interesting, ongoing conversation. I live 90 minutes from the nearest WFM, so my contact has been limited. However, I can no longer view the full weekly advert online. Signed up to get it emailed to me, it sometimes arrives, mostly doesn't, and rarely includes the entire ad. I've emailed them twice about this and have had not a word in reply. It, along with these comments, tells me WFM is probably not worth the gasoline and time to "just go see".

When I have gone to the Portland Maine store the meat looked good and the ground meat especially, but pricey. And I noticed "organic avocados", and I've read that ALL avocados are "organic", and so I do not pay double for them at WFM.

Anonymous said...

I too worked at whole foods. But mine was in sarasota florida. With team leader michelle grant...a raging evil person. Honestly whole foods has a great idea but in my personal opinion doesnt follow it. They do sell old expired food on the salad bar. There is mold in the chefs case that michelle will not clean. I swear to god its there I watched her ignore the sludge. She doesnt care and is an evil vindictive person. Everyone says it and yet not even mel will step up and say something. Because that evil multi colored haired lady will find any reason to fire you. The bakery manager makes out with former astl joe. Regional never steps forward and says hello im so and so...your new to this region...forget it. Your just a worker bee. And to boot your food could be spit in if sandwhich maker chelsea doesnt like you. Its all a rip off and a giant joke. Forget whole foods and their rip off food. I loved whole foods in the pacific northwest...but the florida region...hahahaha forget it. And im not just ranting because I dont have a job there. I do indeed have another full time job.

Anonymous said...

My team leader made 31 an hour...she qould stand there and do nothing when she worked a venue. Shes a psyco. Her name is michelle grant. At whole foods market sarasota. She allows mold in the chefs case. I wish I would have taken pictures but she was there the whole time. Her comment was...oh...looks like do do. In the middle of cleaning the mold she started putting the chefs case back together. Wtf...ur not even going to finish cleaning the mold u psyco sick lady... nope not michelle grant tl for prep foods in sarasota florida.

Anonymous said...

I was just fired for being absent 3 days in a 30 day period. WFM knew my mother has cancer and i was taking time off because she was ill and needed my help! Does not seem like they care about the team members to me!

Anonymous said...

I had the job 10 1/2 years, i don't even know if i can get unemployment benefits, I'm in the Atlanta area, I've heard GA laws always favor the employers.

Anonymous said...

anonymous said....listen there are a lot of haters out there for whole foods. If you only know the procedures and policies, you know to shop here. Many "top positions" are let go due to bad practices with their product. If companies like publix and kroger were to fail then wow, they are winning. I would like to try to see what we are doing for our own fancy case. Enjoy

Anonymous said...

I think it depends a lot on the store that you visit. From personal experience, I know that the WFM in my area tries to uphold the quality standards to a ridiculous degree. In addition, they have made the return policy more customer friendly. I have had some instances where I didn't receive high quality items, but when I brought it to the store's attention, it was taken care of.

Anonymous said...

The whole "i hate whole foods" thing is pretty ridiculous. I mean, you're blogging about your disdain for an upscale grocery store...really? Then casually mentioning that you sold your gift card on CL and gave the money to charity? That's adorable and sweet, but I'm pretty sure that's a tangent that you added to make the reader take your side in the war v. Whole Foods. Come on. They let you return everything. Someone rolls their eyes when you do? So what? This is what you're choosing to expend time and energy bitching and blogging about? Someone who let you get your way? Please.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. So illuminating to hear current and former employees chime in on just how awful the company is. Their experiences are corroborated by this AP article In short, employees in NM protesting a policy were punished by management for speaking out and Ben Friedland, a regional executive, was supportive of the retaliation. It wasn't until state officials spoke out and media attention was paid that WFM amended their stance. So the accounts of bad policies and management appear to be systemic. Additionally, the usurious charges and CEO John Mackey's extreme politics and unprofessional antics, which directly contradict the company's supposed values, clearly make WFM a bad employer and bad business to support.

Meghen Matta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.