Updated: Whole Foods has responded –
Hi. This is Jason from Whole Foods. I’m the marketing coordinator for Portland. Thanks for stopping by the Fremont store this weekend. We appreciate the point you made about the Hatch green chiles. The roasting method we used is standard in New Mexico and in most farmers markets, but we see your point. We agree with you and have already made changes. Our method as we roast in the future will be different.
It’s important to set the record straight with our prepared foods. In every corner of our stores, it’s our business to provide the highest quality foods we can find at the most competitive prices. Our quality standards are guaranteed so that when you walk through the door you know exactly what you’re getting. 75 percent of our prepared food selections are made from scratch right in our stores. The other 25 percent are made by small producers who purchase their raw ingredients from our suppliers and all of these products meet our quality standards. None of the prepared foods teams in the Pacific Northwest source ingredients from Sysco. We use the same distributors for our prepared foods as we do in the rest of the store. That means that we’re making dishes with the same meat and fish as you’ll see in our butcher or seafood case. The produce we use is sourced from the same place as those you’ll see in the produce department. So go ahead and enjoy the broccoli crunch salad – from the store or your kitchen. If you need the recipe, we’re happy to send that your way. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.
Nicely played, Whole Foods. I appreciate the response!
Over the weekend, I happened into Whole Foods on Fremont, and noticed they were roasting Hatch green chiles. It seemed like a nice alternative for people who couldn’t get to the farmers market, or didn’t have a way to roast the chiles at home.
So as I’m watching, they pulled the peppers out of the roaster, and threw them into flimsy plastic produce bags before taking them into their kitchen to be placed into plastic clamshells.
Why on earth would they put something so hot into a plastic bag? By the time they got into the kitchen, the bags were distorting from the heat. Yes, peppers are commonly put into paper bags to steam them and make it easier to remove the skin, but never plastic, which leaches chemicals when it becomes hot.
I wasn’t going to bring this next topic up, but since I’m talking about Whole Foods anyway, I’m going to give it a quick mention. In late July, Gawker, an online gossip site, ran a withering resignation letter from a former employee of Whole Foods. Of course the letter went viral, and to the dismay of the author and the grocery chain, it was read by millions. You can become one of them by clicking here.
There are legions of stories like this, and much of their content can be taken with a grain of salt. However, one of the comments highlighted by Gawker, says, “Almost all of the prepared foods come from Sysco, not the sales floor. The only time you’ll be eating anything even remotely similar to organic romaine in your $9 caesar salad, is if they had bunch of it on spoil in the produce department.”
Whole Foods, I live near your Pearl District store, and will admit, when I’m not feeling well, or am just too lazy to cook, I will wander in and grab something from the hot foods area, or even better, a large container of broccoli crunch salad, which is like crack. Note: I’ve always prided myself on eating slightly more healthy than usual when I indulged. However, an employee whispered to me last week, “The secret ingredient is bacon grease”, which gave me pause.
So my questions are as follows:
- Did someone just not think through the hot chiles/plastic bag combination?
- Are the ingredients for the prepared foods from Sysco?
I will still eat your broccoli salad, but am now thinking it is time I get off my fat ass and make it myself – with good bacon grease and my home-made mayonnaise.