Besides learning about how delicious the pizza is at Whole Foods, there are several things I learned that would be useful for the consumer (which, let’s face it, is all of us). First off, I would like to address the common misconception that it is impossible to eat healthy on a budget. This is an excuse I have heard numerous times, and to be fair, it is not a complete lie. Whole Foods is a more expensive grocery than a Smith’s, Albertson’s, or Costco. But it is not impossible to eat healthy on a budget. In fact, at Whole Foods there is a whole line devoted to affordability. Everything in the store marked with a 365 or “Great Quality, Low Price” is guaranteed to beat the prices of the aforementioned stores. Next, I would like to address the actual quality of Whole Foods products in comparison to your average grocery store. To start, Whole Foods obviously prides itself for it’s high quality, safe to eat reputation. Next time you stop by you might want to look at the ANDI scale in the fruits and veggies section. This scale allows you to look at the nutrient content starting from 0 (lowest nutrient density) to 1,000 (most nutrient dense). Also, Whole Foods tries to incorporate seasonal items into their store in order to replicate the way that we had to eat accordingly to seasonal changes thousands of years ago. They didn’t have grocery stores back then? Gasp! Finally, on a more serious note, I was only mildly impressed by Whole Food’s attempt to assert locality into their stores. Of course, it is a chain store. But, while some items are marked with where the item comes from, the seafood section (I live in New Mexico) and the numerous pre-packaged goodies in the isles testify to the fact that locality is not the number one concern. Overall, I was impressed by with the quality and the wide variety of food that appealed to an even wider variety of people.
On a very different note, according to National Geographic one of the most important staple crops of our time, corn, is being put under more and more stress. This is mostly due to climate change which is causing land to become drier, but it is also a result of genetic improvements that have previously been helping produce higher corn yields. There is now evidence that these genetic modifications are making the crop more sensitive to drought and other effects of climate change. This is being measured by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change using VPD or “vapor pressure deficit.” VPD determines how fast a plant loses water to take in C02 (which fuels photosynthesis). A high level of VPD producing low yields suggests that genetic improvements may not be improving anything at all. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/05/140501-corn-yields-drought-food-climate-science/ This is not just a problem for corn though. Food security is becoming increasing hard to come by, and the developing world has had the most misfortune. Many farmers in Latin America and Africa, for example, are sustenance farmers. This means they are producing just enough to get by. It is becoming increasingly difficult to feed their families with the effects of climate change taking root and disrupting normal growing seasons. We can learn a lot from these farmers though. They are farming in a way that does not deplete the soil by maintaining crop diversity and farming according to seasons. http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/sustainable-earth/food/ If we employed some of these methods in our own lives, it would not only empower the common sustenance farmer, it would empower us to change our effects on the planet and each other.