Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

Whole Foods: The Whole Truth

Whole Foods, the fast-growing chain of upscale "healthy" supermarkets, may not be quite as wholesome as they would like you to believe.

It's important to remember, though, that not everything at Whole Foods is automatically healthy and good for the environment.

Money Magazine has highlighted some of the key issues to be aware of when shopping at Whole Foods so you don't end up spending your whole paycheck on not-so-great foods. Among them:

 * Whole Foods offers only a limited supply of local produce, meaning the environmental damage it causes in transportation is just as high as most other supermarkets.

 * Although Whole Foods doesn't carry products with trans fats or artificial coloring, everything else is fair game.

 * The in-store prepared foods do list ingredients, but there's no nutritional information provided.

Money Magazine June 24, 2007

 Dr. Mercola's Comment:

Whole Foods Market has certainly helped to bring organic foods to the mainstream market, and is now the most popular and fastest-growing health food chain in the United States. But, like most large corporations, it does not have a perfect track record. And while Whole Foods does offer a wide variety of organic foods, they tend to sell foods at a higher price.

They have been roundly criticized in books such as Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma.

For many in urban areas Trader Joe's seems to provide similar healthy but less expensive options.

It's important to remember that buying local is often even better than buying organic, because you get fresher foods that didn't use up excess fuel to be transported a long way. Studies have determined that the long-distance transportation of organic produce causes an environmental impact large enough to cancel out any benefits.

Whether you choose to buy your food at Whole Foods or another store, make sure you are buying foods that are fresh and, ideally, grown nearby. Farmer's markets and community-supported agriculture programs make great alternatives to markets like Whole Foods, and they tend to be much more affordable, too.

For more tips on eating healthy on a budget, check out Your Family Could be Eating Organic Food for the Same Price as Processed Foods -- or Less.

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