Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I'm A Frustrated Midweek Muncher

Well, welcome to "Midweek Munchies, the frustrated edition", aka, "I shopped at Whole Foods this week." I had a $5 off coupon from my Blue Sky Guide, so I decided to make the ten-minute drive, shop, and cash it in.

I know a lot of you out there in blogger-land love Whole Foods. I don't. I think I'm spoiled by a killer co-op.

Things that frustrated me about my trip to Whole Foods this past Sunday:
1. I find their produce department mega-confusing. Some of the organic produce is over here, some of the organic produce is over there, and it's just too stinking confusing to find what I need. Plus, the WF closest to me doesn't carry a ton of organic produce, and even less locally grown stuff. The organic produce that they do carry looks a little battered and bruised -- not nearly as gorgeous as the co-op's.
2. Their receipts are cryptic at best. This makes figuring out what you were actually charged for difficult, and organizing my MM post that much harder! Garn.
3. They do not stock organic lite coconut milk.
4. They do not carry Peace Coffee in bulk.
5. They do not carry Great Harvest Bread Co. breads.
6. They do not stock ANY flours in bulk.
7. They do not carry Burt's Bees Almond Milk Hand Cream.
8. I find their store brand a bit confusing -- sometimes it's "365 Natural," sometimes it's "365 organic." I wish it was all organic, all the time!
9. Their store layout is nonlinear and JUST PLAIN CONFUSING. It took me an hour and a half to find everything I needed.
10. It takes me 10 minutes to drive there, I had to park far away from the entrance, and they only have two cart corrals, and they are within 15 feet of the front doors. (Why not just walk the cart back into the store?)

Things that I enjoyed about Whole Foods:
1. Their bag refund is better than my co-op's.
2. I think their vegetarian vitamins might be more reasonably priced than my co-op's. I'll have to check next time.

Total coupons redeemed, including bag refund: $9.80
Here's what I bought:

Amy's Organic Pesto Pizza (not vegan, obviously)
365 Organic Frozen Blueberries
365 Organic Frozen Strawberries
365 Organic Frozen Peaches
Cascadian Farms Organic Spud Puppies
"the big carton" of WholeSoy vanilla yogurt

1 box soft Mori-Nu
1 can Ka-Me baby corn
1 can Ka-Me water chestnuts
1 can lite coconut milk
2 quart-boxes of original Soy Dream Enriched
Nature's Path Heritage O's
1 pound Peace Coffee Birchwood Blend
1 loaf Whole Foods Bakery 100% whole wheat bread
5 pounds Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
Daddy Sam's BBQ Sauce
2 cans 365 Organic no-salt added diced tomatoes
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
3 Clif Bars (crunchy peanut butter, black cherry almond, & cranberry apple cherry)
1 package unbleached coffee filters

1 gigundo bottle Jason Lavender Body Wash
Avalon Organics lavender body lotion
Burt's Bees Shea Butter Hand Repair Cream

half a pound of organic raw walnuts
half a pound of raw almonds (I can't afford organic -- they are almost fifteen dollars a pound!)

4 organic bananas
1 organic zucchini
1 organic yellow onion (the only kind of organic onions in the store)
8 organic cremini mushrooms (the only kind of bulk organic mushroom in the store)
1 small bunch organic green onions
1 conventional mango (and it was crummy -- stringy and not very sweet)
3/4 pound bulk organic spring greens
3/4 pound organic broccoli
2 organic Bartlett pears
1 organic lime
1 organic Haas avocado
2 organic Pink Lady apples

I will be back at the Wedge next week. Sorry Whole Foods, but I heart you not!

Visit Harmonia for more info on Midweek Munchies.


Eat Peace Please said...

Wow, your WFM really must suck! I agree on the organic produce being all over the store, but it is along with the conventional items. I know the stores vary by location, and I am super-suprised there's no bulk flour, and even some of the other things you mentioned. Their 365 brand I like for the most part but you do have to find that tiny-print that says "organic". So many other things you mentioned are not issues for me, but I do see what you are saying about some stuff...

Our co-op is going through major troubles, financial issues as well as a move in July which is going to totally suck (long story). Therefore, whole foods is a good place for me (and close-by). At least you got a discount on items (that's very rare for WFM).

Harmonia said...

Well, I agree with you on many fronts here...although...I only have access to 1 Whole Foods Store and it is well over an hour me being a begger...beggers can't be choosers. Plus, I only go there every other month or every 3rd month because of the distance and I think they are pricey most times. I agree with the produce but then again our "regular" stores have been "trying" to do the same thing with the organic. I usually don't buy produce at the WF place because I usually stay overnight and I find it at least double the price and not all that fresh. I can't wait for our farmers market to start the end of June. I am frustrated because I cannot find many items ANYWHERE. lol. But I agree with you...there are often many items I think I should be able to find with ease at the WF store that I can never find or I find it once and it's never to be found there again.

So, I can sympathize with you!

My MwM are up now.

Great list you have here!!!

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you about Whole Foods - just had the same experience on my first trip to Whole Foods last weekend (St. Paul location). I was so excited to check it out since I've heard so much about this "wonderful" store. But, I too was disappointed. I zigzagged through the produce department - my boyfriend eventually stopped following me and stood in one spot until I was done going back and forth. Plus, it can be quite crowded in there. Great samples though!

Valley Natural Foods and the Wedge are still top in my book!

jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

1) I love the new shoes! I really want a pair of earth solar vegan in black as well - one day I will finally buy them~ I bought a pair of vintage-y cheap heels at a thrift store recently for work events, so they're taking the place of the earth shoes for a while.
2) I totally hear the WF frustrations, I ended up doing a small amount of shopping there yesterday since I was still downtown after work - I even talked myself into buying maple syrup there , at least it was organic, though expensive.

Catherine Weber said...

I'm glad everyone else shares my Whole Foods woes. Perhaps if I ever get a camera, I will take some pictures at my co-op and post them, so you can see how spoiled I am! (Crystal, you know how awesome the Wedge is!)

Leslie, I'm sorry to hear that about your co-op! Even though WF is a good company, I'd much rather support a local business than a corporate one. I hope your co-op doesn't go under in the process!

Harmonia, where do you live that you have to drive an hour to go to Whole Foods? As I write my cookbook, I think I need to remember that many of my potential readers won't have access to some of the "fancier" ingredients I'm calling for -- I should offer more alternatives. Thanks for the (unintended) reminder!

Crystal, I got so dizzy in the produce department at Whole Foods . . . (the Lake Calhoun location) . . . I should have just parked the cart in the middle like you did! I've heard good things about Valley Natural Foods -- where's it located? I think I have a coupon for there in my Blue Sky Guide.

Hey Jess! I think I need to learn how to be a thrift store shopper -- got any tips? And the good news about the Solars is, they aren't biting the backs of my feet!

Eat Peace Please said...

I agree about the co-op and big businesses. Maybe you could write to the WF? I have inquired with managers and staff and have always had my needs met or questions answered. Maybe that's just my location, and I hear they are opening up 2 more in AZ, which will then total 4. Weird.

I don't get much produce at WF unless I'm being lazy and not-cheap since it's so close to me. I try to get it other places, but usually my shopping list has "emergency" items on it and I just buy them there.

By the way, I sell vintage clothing and I'm all about thrift shops.

Anonymous said...

Catherine - Valley Natural Foods is in the good 'ol A.V. (Apple Valley for all you outsiders)...wait, I think it is technically in Burnsville. Oh well, either way it's off 35E and Cty Road 11 (corner of Cty Rd 11 and McAndrews). They moved into this building about 4 years ago and it is a great space for them.

It is smaller than the Wedge, but still has a ton of goodies and the staff is very friendly. When I was a kid, I'd always ride my bike to Valley Natural Foods to pick up Fruit Leathers and Ginger "Beer". Can you tell I hold a special place in my heart for VNF?

Catherine Weber said...

Leslie, any thrift store shopping tips?

Crystal, I don't think I'll be venturing down to Valley Natural Foods, since I'm within walking distance of the Wedge! It sounds great, though! I second your comment about friendly staff -- I love the folks at the Wedge. They are so fun, and I'm enjoying the fact that Wedge customers actually talk to each other and are funny and pleasant! I once had a cashier "dance" my baby zucchini down the belt, including a made-up song. What a great place.

Dori said...

What a great variety of foods. Congrats on starting the new job and what a way to seize the morning on your first day.

Flo @ Yielded Heart said...

Crystal, we must live not too far from each other. We live in Eagan, and we're a member of Valley NF in Burnsville. Their bulk section is awesome! I like the fact that I don't have to criss-cross with 20 other ppl there, vs. WFM. But we buy tons of produce everyweek, and I always find myself in other stores because of that. I am so looking forward when the organic produce stand opens again in the summer, here in Eagan!