A picture of Whole Foods “buy local” sign.
From our field trip to Whole Foods, I learned they employ many different methods to make grocery shopping as easy and conscientious as possible. They really try to allow the shopper access to all information on their food they may want, or information they didn’t even know existed! Whole foods has always been far ahead of the game on labeling. Even before the recent law stating all stores must clearly label where their fresh fruits and vegetables came from, Whole Foods already did. Although already ahead of other grocery stores, Whole Foods says by 2018 they will have all products containing GMOs labeled as well. They clearly mark which products are organic, and which products are natural.
They not only label products for their customers, the information also benefits them. Always trying to be better, Whole Foods takes their data very seriously. They mark their fresh fish on a scale measuring how sustainable the product is from green (the best) to red (the worst). This not only presents customers with the information to make their own conscious choices, but also allows Whole Foods the ability to monitor how this fish sells, what customers choose, and of course to think about what kind of products they want to sell in their store. After monitoring this data, they got rid of all “red category” fish, taking the store that extra little step of becoming more sustainable all together.
They recognize the importance of local, even though they are a large chain. Small farms have their challenges just as larger scale farms, and often if a problem arrises they are not as easily able to brush it off as large farms. Whole Foods tries to support local farmers, but for a business with as many customers as they have, the definition of local becomes “within an eight hour drive.” Shoppers are able to know where there food comes from, whether it has genetically modified ingredients or not, if it is organic, if it is natural, how sustainable it is, the price, if it is a seasonal item, and even things such as the nutrient density per calorie in some cases. Whole Foods really takes the title of queen of labeling, and is hopefully setting the standard that other grocery stores will be soon to follow.
The National Geographic article Farmers’ Markets and Our Future (http://tinyurl.com/mzb3anb) farther emphasizes the importance of small, local farmers as Whole Foods does. This article notes that in recent years there has been a huge surge of support of both farmers’ markets and local farmers themselves. I find it exciting that not only individuals hunting for local food support local farmers, but also the general population now. Whole Foods talks about becoming more “mainstream,” as valuing things such as natural, organic, and local have become lately in America. As shown by this article, things feed off each other. Whole Foods is able to become a more popular place to shop and bring in customers who never thought of themselves as particularly health conscious, and local farmers are able to see support not only from those who seek them out, but also people who then shop mainstream places like Whole Foods. It’s a wonderful cycle for everyone. Farmers are getting more inventive because of need, and being able to be experimental because of support, such as those in the article A Farm Grows in Brooklyn—on the Roof (http://tinyurl.com/myrrb28). We’re only just beginning to reap the benefits of showing our local growers support, and more are sure to come with time!