Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

 

128 Comments

Comments

Vicky says ...
Please identify the country of origin in a large, easy to find label. While you make great points about China, the Chinese government has proven to be an unreliable regulator. We plan to go through all our food and return anything from from China. I just won't take chances with my 1 yr old, given the unacceptable track record of the Chinese government on food regulations. In addition, please consider the environmental impact of shipping food from overseas. I try to buy food from north america whenever possible. Not only is it fresher, but it contributes less to global warming and oceanic pollution.
02/09/2010 12:38:52 PM CST
Michele (Metro Detroit) says ...
News of dangerous products from China is one of the reasons I became a regular Whole Foods customer. So, I was furious (and sickened!) to discover that the frozen broccoli florets and asparagus I had been feeding my infant daughter were grown in the same country that has produced melamine-laced milk/baby formula, toothpaste with formaldehyde, and lead-coated toys!! While it is a challenge to avoid everything made in China, I refuse to knowingly ingest or feed my family anything grown and/or produced there. I hope you will reconsider your position on "organic" products from China. Your customers DO NOT and WILL NOT believe that this food is safe no matter how many pages of explanation you write.
02/07/2010 2:02:50 AM CST
Brigitte says ...
I have been a WF customer for many years, and have never had a complaint. But I stopped buying frozen spinach at WF as soon as I realized it is from China. PLEASE bring back frozen leaf spinach from the US. I will start reading labels at WF much more closely, and stop buying any foods from China.
02/07/2010 9:01:06 AM CST
rob says ...
Chinese food is great, as long as it is made in America. I am not even interested in purchasing "made in China" food products. This pitch is reminiscent of the great wal of china mart.
01/29/2010 12:33:37 AM CST
Naomi Bailis says ...
I have spent several hours researching the topic of organic food from China and it's connection to Whole Foods. I have also discovered, much to my surprise, that the Sugar Snap Peas I purchased recently from Whole Foods indeed came from China. On the matter of transparency: If Whole Foods was operating from a standpoint of genuine transparency, they would have broken the story about China organics themselves. The fact that the product's origin is placed on the back of the product in very small print might legally pass as transparency, but hardly counts as such in the real world of the frequent Whole Foods customer, at least, this previously frequent Whole foods customer. The question for me is if transparency is a company tenet, why did Whole Foods not come out first with this story? The answer seems clear. The China of today and organic farming seem almost antithetical. China's record of product safety, environmental standards, worker safety, worker's rights, the list goes on, is dismal. Stating loudly and clearly that 365 California Blend is grown in China was not likely to make a splash with the American consumer, especially the ones who want to purchase organic food. I do not doubt for a minute that there are indeed organic farmers in China and know that their cultural history is a rich one for this practice. This does not mitigate, but only highlights how far China has come, sadly, from those ancient practices. Then there is the additional matter of the distance these products must travel to Whole Foods store shelves in the U.S. and all of the issues that presents nutritionally, environmentally, politically. Before you know it, those snap peas don't seem nearly as appetizing as they did before. It remains a dubious proposition at best to make claims that the USDA and Quality Assurance International place the consumer ahead of the food industry as a whole, including the organic food industry. For instance, the language of the USDA's mandate was only recently changed from "promote the food industry" to "encourage the food industry." A desire to protect and promote industry interests runs through all government organizations, including the USDA. It is naive of consumers to expect large companies and government protection agencies to place the consumer before their own profit interests when the rubber meets the road. This must include even the seemingly "good guys", like Whole Foods. This recent discovery for me about outsourced farming to China, a story that is almost a year old now for many, only highlights the dilemma and responsibility consumers face. The choice between convenience and economical shopping is pitted against the desire to eat food that is of genuine high quality, that is truly what it says it is without any spin or theatrics about the country of origin. It is clear that buying locally, CSA's or growing your own food likely offers the best chance to exercise some stewardship over food purchases/consumption for the careful consumer (just make sure your seeds aren't from Monsanto). Indeed, Whole Foods makes this a very public part of their credo with all of the store signage about eating locally. It's astonishing, the cynicism, and how easy it is for the consumer to be deceived if they are not extremely aware and well informed. I will still likely shop to some extent at Whole Foods. But I will eliminate many products from my list of purchases. The marketplace of public opinion does speak volumes. If others voice their opinions and follow up with their actions, the market over time will reflect consumer demand. We can and do make a difference.
02/14/2010 4:52:15 PM CST
Jim says ...
Thank you for addressing a very biased report clearly lacking in much factual information. There are “good” and “bad” players in most industries and in every country. China has gotten a black eye for some of the bad practices in the food industry, and deservingly so. China is a big place, and it is not fair to paint the entire industry with one brush when there are many good people doing the right thing there. Just as it would be unfair to blame all the spinach producers, or all of the peanut butter producers, or all of the ground beef producers, for some of the food safety issues that occurred ion the United States. The organic industry is improving the lives of the farmers and the local community in the area where we grow. Whether a farmer is from China, Africa or the United States, growing organically is reducing the amount of chemicals in our environment and in our food, and in turn helping the family farm, which is a good thing. It should not be about “imports versus local” but it is about healthy (as in fruits and vegetables) versus unhealthy (as in junk food) food choices. By importing organic products and fresh produce from China, the industry is providing a healthy product to the consumer at an affordable cost. In our society where most of the calories we consume are from junk food. I have to agree First Lady Obama that as American’s we need to eat healthier diets. Jim P.S. Do Oriental Blend vegetables have to come from the Orient?
03/18/2010 11:45:57 AM CDT
Beryl Gorbman says ...
First of all, the statement that traditional Chinese peasant farmers were excellent organic gardeners is rather meaningless when you consider that any primitive culture produces organic products, as long as chemicals are not available to them. Fertilizers came into use in the late 1800's, but the harmful chemical fertilizers in use today didn't bloom until about 50 years ago. The other problem with certifying any kind of ethical standard in China, is that the "Cultural Revolution" seems to have wiped out all the traditional values and all the pride once so prominent there. A friend of mine was in charge of the production there of a well-known American electronic hardware product, and left his job because it was impossible to prevent the workers from putting faulty parts back on the assembly line behind his back when he himself had plucked them as rejects. I won't buy any food made or grown in China. When processed food boxes specify only "distributed by," I know that is often a pretext for food having been grown or processed in China. Last year, I wrote to Lean Cuisine, "distributed by" somewhere in the USA, and asked them directly. They answered, telling me that "China was one of their most important trading partners, etc. etc.," and then let me know that yes, Lean Cuisine dinners originate there. I HATED having to give up Lean Cuisine. Beryl Gorbman
03/07/2010 1:17:48 PM CST
Rocco says ...
This absolutely sucks. I will not buy anything from Wholefoods again. I hate China for goods and avoid them wherever I can. Then we find out that this is your food supplier? NO THANKS!!!! GOOD BYE FOREVER!
02/22/2010 6:58:12 PM CST
Susan King says ...
Time-Out! I just read this article and so I thought to myself "self go to your pantry and check your canned goods that are organic" Well I did just that and I have praise forWhole Foods for telling its consumers where each product is from. Let me give you some examples of other organic foods that do not even tell you where the product is from. Westbrae Organic Black Beans (all of their beans actually) It is certified Organic but where did my beans come from? Muir Glen Oraganic tomatoes agsin USDA Organic but where did those little tomatoes come from? And my most favorite Del Monte Organics - they are packed in the USA but where are the tomatoes from. It is quite possible that each and everyone of the above mentioned could be grown in the US but most likely not. I will be more carefull after this although I give WF's the credit for being upfront and honest. As far as the rest I will purchase the honest ones first and theat is WHOLE FOODS! DId I mention we live in Virginia Beach and we have to drive to Richmond just to get to WF so loyalty it still is.
02/23/2010 4:13:51 PM CST
Jon says ...
Relax nervous people. I trust Whole Foods Market because they are a good company and set the standards for safety and high quality Just imagine all of the scary stuff people eat who shop at regular supermarkets or other small market.   How do they measure and control quality from their suppliers?  The small markets probably don't have any ability to do that - that's scary! Keep up the good work Whole Foods Market in leading the way in setting the standards to keep corporate America honest in keeping Americans safe with what we eat. Jon in New Jersey
03/14/2010 3:58:16 AM CDT
Janaize says ...
I also have to say there is ZERO chance I would buy any food from China. Maybe tea, but that's about it.
03/14/2010 8:34:34 PM CDT
miriam harel says ...
my confidence in the USDA was not very high recently, given funding and man power issues.But organics from China? not a chance that I will buy them in the foreseeable future,given the "transparency " practiced there.
03/30/2010 8:26:59 AM CDT
Steve says ...
Why is is the people like Susan who says "Timeout" or Jon who tells us to "relax" feel compelled to tell us these things? Both of you can mind your own values. We have a right to be upset with WF base on "OUR" values, not yours. So please spare us. Feel free to ingest whatever you want from CHINA where they poison their own people not just what they export. Hey, they've got too many people there anyway right? They don't care. Period. I for one, stopped shopping at Whole Foods when I first read of this. I pay more for American made and American grown products wherever I can find them. It takes some effort but against my set of values, it's worth it.
03/15/2010 2:13:59 PM CDT
amy bonetti says ...
I am beyond angry that Whole Foods would carry ANYTHING from China. I will no longer be shopping at Whole Foods Mill Valley and everyone else I have talked to will also not be shopping there anymore. I shopped at WF weekly and NEVER read where food came from as I trusted WF to take care of me. NEVER will I shop at your store again. This makes me so sick and I am furious. Greed is ugly, and you have lost many customers and their faith over this one. Food from China is beyond crazy. I am shaking I am so mad. Amy
03/01/2010 12:03:30 PM CST
Sharon says ...
I have no interest in buying any food product from China. Why can't Whole Foods buy its produce in the US? Even produce out of season can be bought from our neighbors in Mexico. They don't have to ship all the way from China! It is costly and hurts the environment, using up fossil fuels and putting excess gasses into the air.
03/02/2010 8:35:47 PM CST
Peggy Hankins says ...
Hello, I love whole foods. Why must you buy products from China? This makes me very unhappy. I am a cancer survivor and I do not trust China. I was buying my dog (Abbey Gail) the best of the best dog food. Dick VanPattens made in USA and it had that melmonie poision in it and she almost died. I do not trust China and do not want to buy anything from China and so do most of my friends. How do I know that a product you are selling has had anything to do with China? I go out of my way to come to Whole Foods. Foolish me thinking that you would keep your product in the USA. Sincerely, Peggy Hankins
03/04/2010 4:52:31 PM CST
Robert says ...
Hey Jim, feel free to eat all the Chinese food that you want. Just don't ask me to. I support American farmers and products. You are what you eat. Good luck with your strategy. Robert
03/20/2010 3:27:35 PM CDT
Jim says ...
Agreed Robert. People vote with dollars, and should spend them accordingly. My only "strategy" is trying to bring some balance to the discussion. I am in the industry, and I am a big supporter of local farmers, and I sell much more produce from American growers than any single import. And I do support the good Chinese farmers and producers that I work with as well. As a supporter of good agriculture, if I am what I eat, I suppose I have a little bit of some good things from all over the world, and proud of it.
03/20/2010 8:14:26 PM CDT
Tina says ...
BUY LOCAL!!!!! The amount of fossil fuels you are using to transport food that is already grown in this country is outrageous and totally diminishes the value of organic food. It is so hypocritical to be promoting organics and the practices that are necessary to produce organic foods while you are not only getting food from so far away but supporting another country's economy over our own.
03/05/2010 5:13:53 PM CST
Elizabeth says ...
I think it is time we take a look at the real cost of cheap food. Americans are becoming more and more accustomed to eating alot more food than other generations at a relatively inexpensive price. Retailers all over are chasing the demands of the American consumer. They go to other countries to bring in fruits and vegetables at a cheaper price that can be grown domestically. We all pay a price for that. Yes, we take a chance when we buy baby formula or dog food that we can innocently poison our family. It is time we wake up to the price of cheap food. How about we put our AMERICAN farmers back to work, and we pay the real price. While we are at it, perhaps we should be looking at quality and not quantity of what we put in our mouths. As Bob Dylan said, The Times Are Changing! Retailers fill what they think WE want to buy, take RESPONSIBILITY.
04/05/2010 8:05:42 AM CDT
kathy says ...
Walmart- Whole Foods, Walmart- Whole Foods- same- BIG profits are the bottom line- mass buying is the bottom line. We used to travel to our nearest Whole Foods to stock up - never again. Would much rather buy inorganic grown in USA I think, than buy from China or Chile. It's hard enough to monitor organic day to day practices in USA, but in China- impossible and as evidenced by some of their other products- they don't care what gets exported!!!!
03/06/2010 7:22:53 AM CST
Wil says ...
WF products are expensive and I thought it was because of the quality and mostly because they are from the US or Western Europe. Please stop selling food from China and other countries where the gov are unreliable just to make a bigger margin! Help the US economy to get back on its feet. The production of everything is in China and other countries around it, stop buying those otherwise the average american will suffer of loosing more jobs and there will be less customer on the long run... MAKE A BIG LABEL when the food is from CHINA or other countries and you will see what the customers really want to buy - Please do not call a product "California Blend vegetable" if it come from China! be ethically correct and call it "Chinese Blend vegetable" or even better "Made in China Blend Vegetable!".
03/09/2010 4:56:34 PM CST
Vince says ...
I enjoyed your article, it was very informative; however I remember years ago when Wal-mart put out their big campaigns about buying American when in actually they were forcing their vendors to set up shop in China.... I am hopeful that we are not seeing the Walmartizing of Whole Foods....I love WF's, and do not mind paying a little extra for the quality food you put on your shelves, that said if you continue to use suppliers from China I WILL NOT SHOP AT YOUR STORES....
03/12/2010 6:30:01 PM CST
Kristine B. says ...
I'm an organic fruit grower from Washington State (Whole Foods actually carries some of our varieties). I understand the need to source products from other countries, as the US can't grow produce year-round and WF wants to provide their consumers produce year-round. But China?! As a grower, I read a lot of trade journals and I don't trust ANY food from China. The pollution from a billion people is staggering - over half of them don't have plumbing. Where do you think all that waste goes? There are plenty of developed southern hemisphere countries to buy from. As a consumer, I'm more than willing to pay more for safe produce. I will never knowingly buy any food from China.
03/12/2010 11:08:55 PM CST
Alex B says ...
Here is a comment from your former customer. I used to be buying your products until today. You can keep all of your "Made outside of US" products to yourself. I don't trust you.
03/29/2010 1:52:48 PM CDT

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