Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sneak Peek Tour

I know what you're thinking. A photo of a Whole Foods? Big deal. There are Whole Foods every where, and it's just a grocery store for smug people who like organic food and tofu. Well, you're right, but that's not the point. The point is that this Whole Foods is different. This Whole Foods just happens to be brand new and located less than a mile from my house in Wilmington, North Carolina. Can I get an OMG?

When we first found out we were moving to Wilmington, I searched to see if the city had a Whole Foods. It did not, but recent news articles said one was coming in the spring. Since I have never lived anywhere that had a Whole Foods, only visiting the stores when I was traveling in bigger cities, like a grocery store mecca, I was understandably excited. And when we arrived in North Carolina and I saw the sign outside the building that said "May 2012," I got more excited. And when May arrived, and the store was offering preview tours for five bucks (all of which would go to charity) before the big grand opening this Wednesday, I immediately signed up. 

(You might be wondering, at this point, what the big deal is about a new grocery store. Nathan did as well, and looked at me like I was crazy when I told him about the tour I would be paying for. "Why can't you just wait an extra two days and go to the store when it's opened?" he said. There are two people in this world: those who eat to live, and those who live to eat. I will let you guess which camps Nathan and I fall into. Also, after living in the vegetarian wasteland of East Texas for seven years, I think I've earned the right to be excited about my very own Whole Foods. I love you, Nacogdoches, but we both know it's true.)

Our enthusiastic tour guide.

Luckily, my friend Erica also loves food, so yesterday at 1:12PM we showed up at the Whole Foods and got in line for our tour. And friends: I was in heaven. 

Bulk food galore!

The bulk food section was impressive. Best of all, you can bring in your own bags and jars from home, have them weighed at customer service, and then refill them. At check out, the cashier will deduct your starting weight from the final total. Brilliant!

Rows and rows of delicious, good for you treats!

The grand opening is tomorrow and I plan to attend the free breakfast and the bread breaking (in lieu of ribbon cutting). During our tour, employees were actually still putting the finishing touches on everything, and it was neat to see the store in stages, half finished and slowly filling up with amazing produce and products. 

New Belgium beers - IN CANS!

I had a hard time deciding which part of the store I was most excited about - the beer and wine section, the bakery, or the prepared foods. Good think I have two+ years to try them all. 

Oh, I will.

Cucumber avocado sushi samples. Don't mind if I do.

In each department, we were treated to free samples. Pineapple and blueberries in the produce section, crackers in the grocery aisle, sushi in prepared foods. It was all delicious. (I skipped the meat and seafood, naturally.)

Quality standards.

Every tour should end with cupcakes and goodie bags.

At the end of the tour, we were each given a goodie bag. Mine contained a bag of whole wheat pasta, a jar of roasted vegetable tomato sauce, a big can of crushed tomatoes, a granola bar, and a bag of animal crackers. Three guesses as to what we're having for dinner tonight. Also, the contents of that goodie bag was definitely worth more than five dollars, so I now I feel both charitable AND thrifty.

Thanks, Whole Foods! I can't wait to give you all my money!

Whole Foods Market did not sponsor or ask me to write this and probably thinks I'm a little bit weird for devoting a whole blog post to them. Good thing I'm okay with that.


  1. Wow. (I think those three letters don't do justice to the utterly amazing store that Whole Foods is).
    My favorite sections are the salad bar and the hot foods bar. So many vegan goodies to choose from...

    1. I love having more vegan options at my fingertips! And their bread is amazing... :)

  2. It's so strange to me that a wonderland like Whole Foods (which I also find intoxicating) was founded by a man who has views that are probably quite antithetical to most people who shop there (eg, he doesn't believe that there is a scientific basis for global warming, doesn't support the healthcare legislation). It makes shopping there a dilemma for crazy liberal me--but then again, I've found that to be true for many places once I've done a little research. Argh. Knowledge might be power, but then again, ignorance is bliss. Damn you, New Yorker magazine, for ruining my bliss!

    1. Theresa, I haven't read that article and probably should. I know what you mean about ethical dilemmas when it comes to things like Whole Foods (Tom from Tom's shoes is also shady - I heard he throws a lot of money at Focus on the Family). I feel okay about shopping at Whole Foods, because even though the founder has ideas I don't agree with, the philosophy of the store as a whole does. On a community level, they do a lot of things that I admire. The store in Wilmington hired local artists to do the artwork in the store, used recycled wood from a local river in the cafe, raised money for charities with these sneak preview tours, etc.

      I do have issues with the high prices of some items, and with the negative impact the Whole Foods will likely have on some of the smaller health food stores in our town. But I know those aren't enough to keep me from shopping there or getting excited about the store. I do appreciate you pointing out some of the darker things about WF, though, and I will try and find the article you referenced. I would rather be powerful than blissful. :)

    2. I agree with your points on this. I do like the way our local store operates. It does donate to projects around here that I care about and it does support local producers by selling some of their in-season products. All of which I consider good things.

      I didn't know that about Tom's Shoes. I don't currently own any, and if it's true that he supports Focus on the Family, I guess I won't ever own any. Marriage rights is probably my #1 issue so if I know that people/organizations (Chick-fil-A, for instance) give money to an organization that actively fights against equal rights, I absolutely can't support that. But as a recent blog post (http://literaticat.blogspot.com/2012/05/reading-with-enemy.html) I read about reading/supporting literature by authors who have beliefs or act in way you don't agree with pointed out, how and where to draw the line in such situations is a really tricky thing to figure out. It's definitely a work-in-progress for me, and I expect it always will be.

    3. I'll try to find the article I read about Tom's - it may have been a rumor, and if he's actually a decent human, I would feel badly about slandering him!

      I agree wholeheartedly that this is a trick thing to figure out. I'm especially conflicted about artists/writers/filmmakers etc. So many brilliant people have terrible personal lives/beliefs (Polansky, anyone?) that it can be hard to admire or support their art, knowing they will benefit directly from it. I'm glad to know other people struggle with these things as well. :)

  3. It's so good, right? I live near DC, land of yuppie foodies, so I have several Whole Foods nearby. I shopped there for awhile, but sadly it's too expensive for me. Right now I get by with Giant and farmers markets, but one day I'll be living the American dream and gleefully shopping at Whole Foods to my little heart's content.

    1. I'm hoping our garden will help off set the costs of Whole Foods. Otherwise I'll be in serious trouble! :)

  4. That bulk food section looks amazing. I am so turned on by how pretty and organized it seems.

  5. I do admit at times, when i can afford to, i do enjoy this place. I like that they carry organic food, they give their employees a living wage, the employees are always friendly and "happy" which i think says a lot about a company.
    also, you can walk around and shop whilst drinking beer from the bar. where can you walk around a store and drink beer?
    it's awesome.
    the only thing i don't like about going to the one in my neighborhood is the fact that for whatever reason, every single person shopping feels the need to do so in their yoga gear. i mean, does everyone shop after having done yoga!?
    not trying to be judgmental, i really find it amusing.
    whomever i'm with shares the game of counting how many yoga brand wearing shoppers are walking briskly around. hahaha

    1. Haha! I have to admit, after reading this comment I was very conscious of what I wore to Whole Foods, and definitely made sure to change out of my yoga clothes first! :)

  6. I love the idea of taking in your own containers and filling them up directly. The sheer amount of packaging I end up throwing away after grocery shopping always leaves me uncomfortable.


  7. I almost forgot what living in a place that doesn't have a health-food store almost every mile was like. I'm glad I live in a place where I can support local health food stores but Whole Foods was the first place I went when I went when I was living in Nac and went to the big city.

    I'd probably be that excited too!