Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Let’s trade!

Filed under : International,Stores
On July 2, 2007
At 1:30 am
Comments : 15

I haven’t concentrated enough on Brit-land, despite the Wimbledon goodness going on there, I know. Maybe it’s because it’s rained about 75% of the time. Maybe it’s because non-sporting events in Great Britain at the moment aren’t as light-hearted as my posts are usually toned, and I’m not talking about the Concert For Diana. But it wouldn’t be fair to the French and Australians if I didn’t turn my eye on the limeys our motherland, so here goes.

Dear Brits,

It looks like Whole Foods is opening in England! Bully for you! I’m going to parse the meaning of this article in the Telegraph about it and give you the real scoop on Whole Paycheck.

A grocery chain that has conquered the United States by selling ethical organic food without packaging will gain a foothold in Britain today.
Lies, all lies. Plenty of food at WF does, in fact, come in packages. Heh. She said packages.

Ostrich eggs, Incan berries and 21 varieties of tomatoes compete for shoppers’ attention alongside £80 bottles of Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, 2001 vintage wine.
Forget this! Eggplant will run you £80! Bring credit cards.

A humidified cheese room keeps fresh the rounds of Beaufort, while downstairs customers peer through windows as staff make sausages.
Is this true? We don’t have this at our WF. Anyone? I’ve watched them make sushi but it’s kind of like watching the people at Ford turn out SUV’s.

Karin Gilles, a mother, who lives 200 yards away said: “I am sure I will pop in here once a month. But would I do my weekly food shop? It comes down to price. If it is any more expensive than Waitrose, then it’s unlikely.”
I’ve never been to Waitrose, Karin, but I’m going to say unequivocally, yes. But it all looks so good, that’s the problem. Two hundred yards away, you say? Oh, you’re in big trouble.

Most of its star products, especially the meat, are more expensive than from any rival. A whole organic chicken is more than £2 more expensive than in Tesco, for instance. However, it sells a range of goods that beats not just Waitrose, but also Tesco.
This is true. It’s a little-known fact that at least one out of every 25 products at WF is cheaper than at other stores. Best of luck finding it!

Part of Whole Foods’ secret is its lack of packaging. Couscous is dispensed from a large jar into plastic tubs, which customers are encouraged to bring back. They can also buy apples without shrink-wrap.
Wait, hold up, you don’t have this in the UK? There’s no “dispense yourself, weigh & pay” sort of thing? And apples only come in plastic? I don’t really believe this. Does the Telegraph actually grocery shop?

But only today will it know whether they are interested in ostrich eggs at £12.99.
Enough with the ostrich eggs! People actually do buy other things there, you know. Why, just last week I took a mortgage on my apartment and bought a container of blueberries. You heard me, it was in a package.

But this is all OK, it looks like you guys are returning the favor! Tesco is coming here! Of course, it will be called “Fresh and Easy” to appeal to the American market. After all, we are nothing if not fresh & easy.


PS, take your time with responding, we will be off for Independence Day.

The Soup Dragons – Whole Wide World


15 Comments for this post

  1. Julia says:

    Whole Foods is a soul-sucking beast. If they could really get their food to my plate without any packaging whatsoever, then that would be something to see. Except that’s called a restaurant, which doesn’t really cost that much more than Whole Foods.

    Happy Independence Day!

  2. I’ve never been to a Whole Foods. Ever. I want to go; I really do. They just don’t have them here in the culinary wasteland.

    We just recently got a Fresh Market and it was the first time I’ve ever seen Fage yogurt. I bought a bunch of it and a bunch of other stuff I’ve not seen here in Alabammy. I’m tempted to do all of my shopping there but because I also have to make a mortgage payment, I’m not able.

  3. kb says:

    1) I’ve got a Whole Foods two blocks away — how many yards away is that? Just because it’s close doesn’t mean it’s any easier to get the grocery bags home. Pretty much limited to one bag — or £50 worth — per arm.

    2) Waitrose is cheaper than Tesco which is cheaper than Safeway which is cheaper than Marks & Spencer which is WAY cheaper than Whole Foods.

    3) I might be wrong in #2 as I just made blatant assumptions based on vague memory, but it was fun to type.

    4) Never “just try” things from Whole Foods –“because they look good for you”– without truly knowing what you’re doing. For instance: Water Buffalo Yogurt. Digestive-Enzyme Product That Looks A Lot Like Milk. It sucks to throw away a $7 product after discovering you’d never keep it down anyway.

    5) It is worth going to Whole Foods just to “dine” your way through the produce section.

    6) You know, I’m trying to remember, and I can’t recall ever buying a piece of fruit or vegetables in London that didn’t come in plastic. Huh.

  4. Soxy says:

    I hate when I say the words “Lets just pop into Whole Foods and grab something easy from the prepared section/hot bar.” I always emerge $30 poorer with some new cheese as well. I swear they only sell heavy things in their hot bar.

  5. Jane says:

    I was initially going to post “What? They can put one in England but not within 50 miles of me?” But then I popped over to their website to see if that was still true, and it’s not. There is one 48.58 miles from me.

    Wait, it’s only within 50 miles because *I* moved. Cheaters.

  6. Celia says:

    We used to live less than a mile from a Whole Foods and I rarely went there. I just didn’t think it was all that.

    Now we have a good friend who is the manager of a Whole Foods, and used to be the prepared foods manager in another location, so I have to be nice about WF, but I just never got all that excited about it.

    However, they did have nice things to sample, particularly in the bakery department.

  7. Becca says:

    Wow, Whole Foods really brings the people out! I have to say, being near a WF is both a blessing and a curse. The curse usually arrives in the form of my credit card bill. But in New York it’s just hard to find a store as clean and well laid-out. I could get almost everything there cheaper elsewhere but except for the line from Hell, it’s really a pleasure to shop there.

  8. Celia says:

    I have been anxiously awaiting a topic on which I had something to say, to redeem myself from the ignominy of falling off the top commenters list.

    It so happens, I have been in a Whole Foods store, so, unlike many of your other topics, I’m qualified to comment on this post.

  9. sarpon says:

    I’ve never been to Whole Foods, but I won’t let that stop me from commenting!

    As it happens, I read about the Manhattan Whole Foods line experiment. According to this article ( in the New York Times, the wait at WF is actually shorter in time than in other stores.

    Take a stop watch next time you go and report back.

  10. Becca says:

    Celia, I respect your holding off commenting until you have something good to say. Sadly, that never stops me from posting but I’m working on it.

    Sarpon, I read that! The line is indeed long but as that article says, it moves very quickly and is most incredibly efficient. As evidence of this, it runs by a magazine rack where you never actually have time to read anything.

  11. kay says:

    When your name is Barclay (as are the owners of the Telegraph) I don’t think you do know anything about grocery shopping. Someone just brings it all to you, already made, I’m guessing.

    I think it’s funny that WF thinks the UK has any interest. Maybe shoppers do, but their grocery stores are marvelous with more organics and fresh items from throughout Europe and Africa than you can shake a stick at. I love grocery shopping there because you get such high quality foods (no GMO anything, no BGH–all banned) for less than you pay here at WF, etc.

  12. KP says:

    I have only been in Whole Foods once and it just so happens to have been during one of my visits with you my dear.

    I only looked at and bought chocolate. Shocking I know.

    On an unrelated to this topic but still related to the JBall note, my oldest son asked me today about “that guy Becca follows” playing at Wimbledon.


  13. RN says:

    Ethical organic food?

    That makes me wonder what food would be unethical…

  14. Becca says:

    Tell Boy P that alas, that guy Becca follows lost in spectacularly awful fashion last week and that when Becca sees him at the US Open next month she’s going to give him a piece of her mind. And her ticket to sign.

    RN, I think that means animals all smooshed together in a small pen. Also, Cool Whip, because that just has to be unethical.

  15. Celia says:

    Ethical food is also stuff that somehow sustains the rain forest by using nuts that were grown there, and coffee that was grown without exploiting child labor, and all that jazz.

Comments are closed.