There are actually some very good reasons to shop at Whole Foods. And in this article, I'll outline 7 good ones that will have you think twice then next time you go to call them "Whole Paycheque"...Now for the seven reasons:
1. Higher Quality Standards - like no MSG
Most people don't know this but this is why they're called Whole Foods: they have a big list of things that are not allowed in their foods. If you click on Quality Standards, you can go to a list of unacceptable foods, and you'll notice that aspartame, MSG, and high fructose corn syrup are on that list! They also have quality standards for their produce, meats, body care, and cleaning products - viewable on that same link above. This is perhaps the single best reason to shop there.
2. Better Quality, More Ethical Meat, in 5 Stages
To me this is one of the best reasons to shop there. None of their pork is raised in gestation crates (metal boxes that does not even allow them turn around). But you don't have to buy organic to buy meat at Whole Foods - they have '5 Stages' of meat, and the first stage is already better for you than the meat sold at conventional grocery stores. This is perhaps the second best reason to shop there.
3. Quality Supplements with Knowledgeable Sales People
The supplements at places like Safeway are very low quality. I would not even bother buying a $10 vitamin - you're getting such ridiculously small amounts of the active ingredients, that you might as well just flush your $10 down the toilet. Some of the supplements may be a little better quality - but at Whole Foods, you also get knowledgeable staff to help guide your purchases. Vitamins do work - if you buy quality ones that you actually need.
4. They Take Good Care of Their Staff
They do profit sharing with the staff, their staff rooms are a space you'd actually want to have lunch in, and the manager (where I worked) was the most human manager I have ever met in a grocery store - I have worked in several, and usually I was treated like a number. But at Whole Foods, he shook my hand and took the time to get to know me a bit. Then, after a busy Christmas, I got a bonus cheque (profit sharing) in the mail! I was very happily surprised. Also: staff are given a 20% store wide discount.
5. No Depressing Magazines at the Cashier
I'm really not a fan of how most grocery stores put those gossip rags by the till. And what we expose our minds to does affect us. I don't watch horror movies, I try to keep the intense dramas to a minimum, and I definitely don't need to know who back-stabbed who in Hollywood...in contrast, Whole Foods magazines are things that really make my life better: Paleo Magazine, Yoga Journal, Simple Life. I *like* reading their magazines.
6. Reasonable Prices
I comparison shop so I do know what I'm talking about. I find Whole Foods produce is comparable to Save On Foods produce. Yes, some things are more expensive (like the bulk section, or the deluxe chocolate bars), so I only buy those when I can afford them. I notice prices, I prioritize, and I buy what I can afford.
7. A Better Environment
Whole Foods has free Wifi, paper bags at the cash not just plastic, and I can usually get a quality meal from the salad bar and eat it in the courtyard - with filtered water. Altogether the experience is much more relaxed and nourishing to me than a conventional grocery store. And did I mention the deli uses quality ingredients? Safeways' deli, while it looks appetizing, is a mine-field of gluten, sugar, and preservatives. I know, because I've read the ingredients. As Joshua Rosenthal of IIN has said, he doesn't buy supermarket food.
To sum up, I know Whole Foods isn't perfect, but I think it is a place of abundance. When you shop there, yes you may pay a little more, but you're supporting humane, enlightened values: a healthier place to work, better quality food, greater kindness to animals, and a healthier environment. And those are things worth investing in.