Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

25 Random Things

By Winnie Hsia, February 25, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Winnie Hsia

We thought we’d get in on the fun and post our own “25 Random Things” list. How many of these did you know about us? Do you have a favorite fact about us that has missed our list?

  1. Several times a year, our stores hold community giving days (known as “5% Days”) where five percent of that day’s net sales are donated to a local nonprofit or educational organization.
  2. Margaret Wittenberg, our Vice President of Global Quality Standards and Public Affairs, was the only retail representative on the board which created the U.S. National Organic Standards.
  3. We stopped using disposable plastic bags at checkout on Earth Day 2008, keeping 150 million plastic bags out of the landfills since then.
  4. We started with 19 Team Members in 1980, and several of them are still with us!
  5. An old joke about our first store was that people confused it for a Volkswagen car dealership because of all the VW Beetles in the parking lot.
  6. Our Local Producer Loan Program (LPLP) provides up to $10 million in low-interest loans to support small local farmers and producers.
  7. With "the crack heard round the world," Whole Foods Market was recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records for "the most wheels of parmigiano reggiano ever cracked at the same time."
  8. Our Glastonbury, CT store was the first supermarket to generate power from an on-site fuel cell.
  9. Did you know Whole Foods Market was once under seven feet of water? The 11,000 sq ft building that housed it in the early 1980s (now a used music store) was hit by the Memorial Day flood in 1981. What we learned: oranges float. Wine bottles don’t.
  10. Many of our best innovations come from our Team Members. Like Lee Tobin. After he was diagnosed with celiac disease, this baker from our Chapel Hill store began experimenting with gluten-free baking. By October 2004, he was proud to fire up the gluten-free ovens in a new, completely separate, dedicated facility: the Whole Foods Market Gluten Free Bakehouse.
  11. In 2006, we purchased enough renewable energy credits from wind farms to offset 100% of the electricity used in all stores and facilities in the U.S. and Canada. It was the largest wind energy credit purchase in the history of North America.
  12. We maintain an “unacceptable ingredients” list of items that cannot be in our products. It includes hydrogenated fats, artificial flavors, and a whole lot more.
  13. Our Team Members are very generous folks. They have donated over $500,000 to the Whole Planet Foundation, funding 2,700 microloans and helping over 13,000 people work to lift themselves out of poverty through entrepreneurship.
  14. Our commissary kitchen in Massachusetts gets 100% of its electricity from recycled cooking oil.
  15. At some of our offices, Team Members bring dogs into work (but not to our stores!).
  16. Our Lamar Boulevard store has been called the top destination in Austin. It’s visited by even more tourists than the Texas state capitol, and as far as we know, it’s the only supermarket with a rooftop ice skating rink.
  17. Each sale of the Whole Foods Market FEED 100 bag provides 100 school meals to children in Rwanda through the UN World Food Program.
  18. You did not make up the term “Whole Paycheck,” but we will smile and nod and pretend that we’ve never heard it before.
  19. Fast Company called CEO John Mackey “a man who has done more to improve the quality, sustainability, healthfulness, and purity of the food Americans eat—from farm field and barnyard to kitchen table—than anyone else in the past 25 years.” Not bad for the $1 annual salary we pay him!
  20. Whole Foods Market has been among Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” every year since the list began.
  21. Every reusable Better Bag we sell is made from 80 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. Each bag represents approximately four 20-ounce plastic bottles.
  22. Do you use Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Soaps? Or start your day with Allegro Coffee & Tea? Was your mid-afternoon pick me up a bar of Theo Chocolate? These are all Whole Trade Guarantee products, which are certified as providing more money to producers, better wages and working conditions for workers, sound environmental practices, and still meeting our high Quality Standards.
  23. The Environmental Protection Agency awarded us its top honor of Green Power Partner of the Year for 2006 and 2007. The company was also presented with the Green Power Leadership Award in 2004 and 2005.
  24. Every month our Westport, CT store names Team Members “King and Queen of Customer Service.” The King and Queen get to do a “shop til you drop” for 2 minutes in our grocery aisles, collecting as many 365 Everyday Value products as they possibly can. Normally Team Members go home with 2 to 3 carts full of groceries, and get to have the rest of the Team Members cheer them on and yell what they should be picking up.
  25. We are on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. You can’t miss us.
Category: Random Stuff




Lisa says ...
What a fun post! My favorite was #24....I bet that's fun to watch, and what a cool way to reward employees!
02/25/2009 7:31:16 PM CST
Jillian says ...
I would love a 2 minute dash ! Of corse not in my facility ( pigeon cove wholefoods)Fish are slippery !
02/26/2009 12:10:23 PM CST
Louise Ross says ...
I am soooo glad you stopped using plastic bags at checkout! And who wouldn't love your fun, "I used to be a plastic bottle" carry bags. Please nudge peeps who continue to opt for your paper bags @ checkout to buy/use your your BetterBags. And yeah to you for using social networking sites -- it's the wave of the future.
02/26/2009 3:12:32 PM CST
Claire says ...
What a fun post! It's nice to get to know better, Whole Foods =)
03/04/2009 6:39:03 PM CST
Shirley Conkle says ...
I like many millions have celiac disease (gluten intolerance) I have a difficult time finding food without gluten, such as wheat, oats, barley, rye. Finding bread, such as rolls, hot dog buns, hamburger buns is not easy.I can't eat cake, pie, cookies, or other such foods. Can you give me some direction where I might find such foods that contain no gluten? Thanks, Shirley Conkle Fresno, CA
03/04/2009 7:23:51 PM CST
Katy Sauser says ...
I was in your new Lakewood Store today, and was so excited to see that your delicious ready to eat rotisserie chickens are no longer packaged in those earth unfriendly plastic containers. They are now in earth friendly waxed paper sacks that are so much better, and don't come open while you stand in line like the plastic packages used to do. Yeah to earth friendly packaging!
03/04/2009 8:19:31 PM CST
Rich Haslam says ...
Sorry for the self promotion, but I have another interesting fun-fact for you: I recieved my first massage ever at the grand opening of the San Antonio store when it was up near I-10. That massage was what made me decide to become a Massage Therapist. Six months after I graduated from Massage School, I took over the contract for that store and have been contracted with you since then, now going on 14 years. I just may be the longest contracted MT company, and maybe now the largest with 5 stores under contract in South Florida.
03/04/2009 8:46:57 PM CST
Diane Fillmore Eleveld says ...
Hi I remember buying health food in the 1970's. Open bins of flour, rice and such. You brought your own container. There was raw milk and yogurt without preservatives. This was in Austin Texas. I don't remeber the name of the store. I lived near the UT campus and thenjust south of Town Lake. Where was your first store and could I have shopped there? I'm just curious. Thanks for answering my question, diane
03/04/2009 9:03:52 PM CST
Melissa says ...
Wow. If only most CEO's were as effective and reasonably priced as Mackey! Thank you Thank you Thank you!
03/04/2009 9:49:53 PM CST
Alice Chandler says ...
How grateful I am that you came into our area. I am highly allergic to so many things and it has been so hard to find food I can eat. Because of you I can enjoy eating my organic hamburger, roasts,etc. I had to do without it for sometime because no one locally had organic meats. Thanks to you and your wonderful staff at the Laguna Beach and Tustin stores, I now can enjoy my beef like I used to when I was on the ranch. Again thank you so much Alice Chandler
03/04/2009 10:13:17 PM CST
Carolyn H. says ...
Hi there. Fun and fantastic facts. Thanks for sharing with us. Our country and our world need good healthcare and you at Whole Foods are a part of the solution. Try to get some more stores in assorted locations in Philly. We need you. Also,consider delivering to our homes. Just a thought. Love the in-store comment board.This is fun too. Bye.
03/04/2009 10:51:11 PM CST
arch says ...
The early Whole Foods plastic bags were heavy-duty superior quality bags that easily found repeat alternate uses and should not have been discontinued. I for one still use some of these bags, now more than four and five years since they originally held groceries, to now carry snacks when I travel on planes and trains, as well as to carry books back and forth from the library. While reducing the use plastic in general may be a noble goal, I still see most of your customers and staff wearing sneakers and polyester-blend garments and adjusting sunglasses, as well as using pens and running their credit cards, yes, only a few among a myriad of other examples of plastic in our everyday lives...so let's not be so holier-than-thou about just plastic bags.
03/04/2009 10:57:27 PM CST
michele says ...
I am proud to work for a company that does so much good in the world...offers so much food that is awesome and delicious...designs beautiful stores where folks can while away an hour or two without even trying! The world could use more forward thinking business owners like John Mackey...and we're lucky to have him. Especially for $1 a year!!
03/04/2009 11:20:17 PM CST
jo doyle says ...
#13 Hear hear! I remember standing with two other TM's (in Bethesda)watching the prosperity campaign video with John and clips from the people and communities that my $1/paycheck helps to provide. One said "That man is doing a very big thing". The other reached into her apron and pulled out a dollar which she put in the clear cylinder container on the table next to the screen. It was definitely a feel-good moment. Moments like that happen very often in my store. I should say, our customers always kick in the funds too!
03/04/2009 11:43:43 PM CST
Tricia says ...
love the whole wheat pizza dough
03/05/2009 7:46:41 AM CST
hsiaw says ...
@Diane Our first store was on Lamar at 10th Street, where Cheapo Discs is currently housed.
03/05/2009 10:10:43 AM CST
hsiaw says ...
@Shirley Most all of our stores have a wide selection of gluten-free products including breads, cakes, cookies, etc. Some stores have dedicated freezer sections or aisles for Gluten-Free items; however, if you're having trouble locating anything, just ask at your Guest Services desk for some help finding these items!
03/05/2009 10:13:33 AM CST
Nelda R. Cortez says ...
Love the Whole Foods at the Quarry, everyone is helpful and always in a great mood. I enjoy sampling the many items and learning about how good they are for us. Thanks!
03/05/2009 10:33:36 AM CST
Stephanie L says ...
How about adding SLS (Sodium Laurel/Laureth Sulfate) to your list of ingredients not allowed? I love shopping in your stores and the higher costs are worth it to get better quality proucts.
03/05/2009 11:02:45 AM CST
Kathleen Hayden says ...
I started shopping at Whole Foods when the store opened in 1980, was there for the "two" floods AND am still shopping Whole Foods "P" Street where I live now in Washington, DC. Thank goodness for WHOLE FOODS......I consider it my WHOLE HEALTH store! -Kathleen
03/05/2009 12:18:04 PM CST
Kate Englebrecht says ...
I love the photo! p.s. My 2 1/2 son and I are both gluten and dairy intolerant! Thank you so much for giving us such a great place to find what we need.
03/05/2009 1:35:59 PM CST
Barbara Barnes says ...
Whole Foods have great stores and very good selections of healthful foods to choose from. My husband and I LOVE your stores and wish so badly that there was one in the Macon, Georgia area. We only get to visit Whole Foods when we are in the Atlanta area, which is not very often. Then I have to take a cooler with me if I plan to bring back cold or frozen items. We also have friends in our area who love your stores as well and occassionally make out-of-town shopping trips to Whole Foods. Thank you so much for the good you do to promote health and a better environment for all of us.
03/05/2009 1:50:38 PM CST
Sara B says ...
Even though my Whole Foods stock is doing horribly (aren't they all?), I still love and support you guys. I love that you can poke fun at yourselves too - "#18 - You did not make up the term “Whole Paycheck,” but we will smile and nod and pretend that we’ve never heard it before." I call it Whole Paycheck at times, but of course, still love to shop there, because you are the best. Even when the San Rafael, CA store is literally PACKED with people and cars. Thanks!
03/05/2009 2:46:16 PM CST
Carell K. says ...
I enjoyed reading your random things list. I especially liked the information about your support of good causes. I love shopping at my store in Tanasbourne and my husband enjoys coming along as well which is not typical of most of our shopping. I suspect your free tastings might be a contributing factor there. Thanks for keeping such high standards.
03/05/2009 10:31:17 PM CST
lisa says ...
Thanks for carrying so many foods that my husband can eat w/o aggravating his intolerances. namely the new coconut milk yogurt, as he cannot have dairy, soy, wheat, and many many other things. WF is about one of just a few places i can shop for him and get most of the shopping done in one place!
03/06/2009 4:03:22 PM CST