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Why I'm thankful for Whole Foods Market stores

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles...)
Tags: Whole Foods Market, stores, health news

Whole Foods Market

(NaturalNews) After a recent visit to Austin, Texas to appear live on the Alex Jones show, I had the opportunity to visit the flagship store of Whole Foods. I've been to a lot of Whole Foods stores throughout the country, so I've seen the typical layouts and offerings, but this Austin store takes it all to a whole new level. It's like an entire city block of food markets and high-end restaurants all under one roof. You can get everything from smoothies to fine red wines, seafood cuisine served by a waiter, raw vegan food and much more -- all without leaving the store!

Being there reminded me of something I've neglected to say publicly for a long time: I greatly appreciate the fact that Whole Foods exists.

Now, I know that many of us in the natural health community find little things about Whole Foods to complain about from time to time, but in the big picture, aren't you glad Whole Foods exists, too? Imagine shopping for groceries without Whole Foods. What if your only choices were Kroger, Safeway and all the other mainstream conventional grocery stores? They're purveyors of toxic poisons (the detergent aisle, anyone?) and processed junk non-food items such as "processed cheese food." Yumm...

And consider this: You know how all those mainstream stores are edging into health and wellness with their little "natural products" sections of their stores? Those wouldn't be there if it weren't for Whole Foods putting the pressure on the grocery industry to go more natural.

You see, mainstream stores create these natural products sections precisely because they don't want to lose their customers to Whole Foods, so they try to stock just enough "natural" product to prevent mainstream shoppers from leaving entirely. They'll stock a little Silk soy milk (which mainstream consumers ridiculously think is a "healthy" beverage) and hope shoppers stick around.

Whole Foods, meanwhile, is stocking almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, hazelnut milk, coconut milk and countless other healthy products that put conventional grocers to shame. On top of that, Whole Foods offers raw foods, a huge selection of organic produce, fresh local produce where possible, and a huge collection of natural home care and body care products.

The first place I go in any city

I'm thankful for that. It really hit home for me when I recently realized that in my travel plans, I started checking the location of Whole Foods before I booked my hotel. The most important part of staying at a hotel, in other words, is its proximity to a Whole Foods Market!

Why does that matter to me? Because I bring a blender everywhere I travel, and I blend up superfood smoothies as part of my daily diet. The best superfood smoothies require fresh, organic produce (I like to use fresh grapefruits and organic frozen blueberries, among other things), and Whole Foods is the perfect place to find those things. Plus, I can pick up extra superfood powders, natural sweeteners or even grab a healthy lunch there.

If I'm traveling and can't find a Whole Foods Market, the entire trip suffers. Because then I have to walk into a conventional grocery store, and they're absolutely chock full of toxic chemicals. Just the toxic laundry products from the detergent aisle create a layer of toxicity throughout the entire store. While conventional consumers don't understand this because their olfactory senses have been destroyed through exposure to toxic fragrance chemicals, I can actually smell the detergent residues on fresh produce bought in a conventional grocery store. The apples, in other words, smell like Tide laundry detergent! Yuck!

In a typical Wal-Mart store, even the plastic checkout bags smell like detergent. The same is true with Target stores. These conventional retailers are just cesspools of toxic chemicals wafting out from the detergent aisle, and virtually everything you buy there is contaminated with some level of toxic fragrance chemicals on its external surfaces. (The same is true at Costco and Sam's Clubs, by the way.)

But not in Whole Foods. There, the produce you buy smells like produce. And even the detergent aisle is bearable because it offers natural brands rather than cheap mainstream detergent chemicals. Shopping at Whole Foods means I don't have to inhale toxic chemicals at every step, and I don't have to scrub my produce with a stiff brush to remove the film of toxic detergent chemicals.

Healthier people shop at Whole Foods

There's another thing that's really good about shopping at Whole Foods, too -- and this one may not be so obvious. Have you ever shopped at a conventional grocery store and just watched what people buy? I mean, have you ever looked into their grocery carts and just about cried at all the toxic chemicals and poisons they're buying?

When I see a parent shopping with children and loading up their cart with processed cow's milk, bacon, brand-name laundry detergent, diet Coke and sugary breakfast cereals, it's all I can do to keep my mouth shut and not publicly berate these parents for engaging in "nutritional child abuse." I suppose it's because I care so much about the health of the next generation, but for me it's almost torture to go shopping at a conventional grocery store and witness all the poison these people put into (and onto) their bodies. I just can't stand to see people commit slow suicide.

At Whole Foods, you avoid all that. Instead of people buying poison, you see people buying healthy food. These are my people! ...folks who care about their health, who read ingredients labels and who love themselves enough to actually eat well. At the Austin store, there were also quite a number of younger Whole Foods workers with various piercings and tattoos, and while that's not something I'm into (tattoo ink contains mercury, did you know?), it at least shows the creative flair and free expression of some of the younger Whole Foods workers.

Truly leading the industry

Whole Foods is a trend-setter in ways you may not even know, by the way. Every time I go to the Expo West industry trade show and interview companies introducing new health-related products, they tell me they're all trying to "get into Whole Foods." (And Costco, interestingly enough, since Costco is carrying more and more natural products each year, so kudos to them!)

Of course, in the very next sentence after saying how badly they want to get into Whole Foods, they complain about how low they have to cut their wholesale price to Whole Foods. Such is the nature of the biz, it seems. Whole Foods does require a healthy margin to cover its operating expenses. Brick-and-mortar operations are hugely expensive compared to selling online without a physical storefront. There's no simple way around that, either. It's just a law of economics.

Setting the trends in health food retailing

Aside from being the No. 1 retail choice of practically every natural product company in the natural health space, Whole Foods is also a real trendsetter. For example, they have partnered with the Non-GMO project (www.NonGMOproject.org) to carry the "Project Verified" label on as many of their products as possible (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/values/genet...).

This is a very big deal given how important the GMO issue has become to consumers. This alone might soon become the No. 1 reason shoppers choose Whole Foods over other stores -- because they can avoid GMOs at Whole Foods!

Just as with other issues, when Whole Foods leads the way on issues like GMOs, other conventional stores are forced to follow. It won't be long before the corporate executives at Safeway, Kroger and Wal-Mart start figuring out that informed shoppers won't buy foods unless the GMO question is answered on the label. And this, in turn, will lead to labeling and policy reforms at these conventional retailers that once again never would have happened if not for Whole Foods leadership on the issue.

This is one of the huge, hidden benefits of Whole Foods Markets -- they pull the entire grocery industry in the direction of "natural." And frankly, Whole Foods rarely gets credit for this. People sometimes complain about Whole Foods prices, but they often forget that if it wasn't for Whole Foods, many of the natural trends shaping the industry today (in our favor) wouldn't have happened at all! And many of the natural products we enjoy today might not be available at any price!

As long as Whole Foods continues to prioritize honest food, honest labeling, organic produce and the avoidance of both GMOs and toxic chemicals in their products, I plan to remain a satisfied customer. (And no, they didn't pay me anything to write this. I've never even met any of their executives or marketing team, although I wouldn't mind doing so if they invited me.)

Sure, if Whole Foods gets off track in some way, then we the consumers will remind them what's important to us and help them get back on track. In the mean time, I'm going to continue to find a Whole Foods in every city I visit when traveling or touring.

So far, I've been to Whole Foods stores throughout the entire South of the country (From L.A. to Miami), plus others in the Pacific Northwest, Denver, the Bay Area of California and so on. I've always been grateful to find Whole Foods when traveling. To me, it's sort of like a health oasis in a sea of conventional toxic products sold by conventional grocery stores.

Now, I don't want to discount all the amazing local health food stores in all this. I'm really grateful for the New Life health food stores in Tucson, Arizona, and I know there are other healthy store chains that deserve their own recognition. I hope to cover more of them here on NaturalNews in the future. We need to help provide positive coverage for all the natural grocery stores and health food retailers around the world, in my opinion. (We're working on expanding that effort...)

At the same time, I'm really grateful for Whole Foods stores. If you see me at one, by the way, it's perfectly okay to say hello. I've had lots of people recognize me and say hi while I'm shopping at various Whole Foods stores, and I've noticed some people looking like they wanted to say hi but weren't sure if it was okay. Yes, it's okay! If I'm out shopping in a public place like Whole Foods, and you're a NaturalNews reader who wants to say hello, please do. I'd love to chat with you.

Just make sure you're buying healthy stuff because I will probably notice what's in your grocery cart (grin)

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About the author:Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is a best selling author (#1 best selling science book on Amazon.com) and a globally recognized scientific researcher in clean foods. He serves as the founding editor of NaturalNews.com and the lab science director of an internationally accredited (ISO 17025) analytical laboratory known as CWC Labs. There, he was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for achieving extremely high accuracy in the analysis of toxic elements in unknown water samples using ICP-MS instrumentation. Adams is also highly proficient in running liquid chromatography, ion chromatography and mass spectrometry time-of-flight analytical instrumentation.

Adams is a person of color whose ancestors include Africans and Native American Indians. He's also of Native American heritage, which he credits as inspiring his "Health Ranger" passion for protecting life and nature against the destruction caused by chemicals, heavy metals and other forms of pollution.

Adams is the founder and publisher of the open source science journal Natural Science Journal, the author of numerous peer-reviewed science papers published by the journal, and the author of the world's first book that published ICP-MS heavy metals analysis results for foods, dietary supplements, pet food, spices and fast food. The book is entitled Food Forensics and is published by BenBella Books.

In his laboratory research, Adams has made numerous food safety breakthroughs such as revealing rice protein products imported from Asia to be contaminated with toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium and tungsten. Adams was the first food science researcher to document high levels of tungsten in superfoods. He also discovered over 11 ppm lead in imported mangosteen powder, and led an industry-wide voluntary agreement to limit heavy metals in rice protein products.

In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Through the non-profit CWC, Adams also launched Nutrition Rescue, a program that donates essential vitamins to people in need. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.

With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource featuring over 10 million scientific studies.

Adams is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.

Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.

In addition to his activism, Adams is an accomplished musician who has released over a dozen popular songs covering a variety of activism topics.

Click here to read a more detailed bio on Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, at HealthRanger.com.

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