Whole Foods Mark-up Scandal Fits ‘Whole Paycheck’ Reputation for Putting Organic Out of Reach


(Truthstream Media) Every feel like making all the ends meet is just nearly impossible?

Economic conditions have made food, fuel, homes and everyday needs more expensive at the same time that jobs are harder to find, and even less likely to pay well.

Meanwhile, keeping informed and sorting out what is under-reported but critical to know with all the stuff that is over-reported but skewed requires a good deal of time and effort. But it is necessary: as Howard Beale poignantly shouted in Network,

“We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy…”

Choices have to be made as to how best to keep the family healthy: should you spend extra to buy organic, or avoid certain ingredients, to buy certified non-GMO, or to take the time and expense to source local, sustainable foods? Or is all of that too costly on a budget and too confusing – in a media and information saturated world – for the average household to endure. It ain’t easy for the average to keep up with.

So it comes as bitter news that Whole Foods has officially “owned” the fact that its stores were charging way more for prepackaged foods than other stores… while profit motives are important, it is hardly desirable that it is so expensive for poor and working families to afford healthy foods.

USA Today reported:

Whole Foods top executives said they “made some mistakes” in a video posted to the company’s blog after an investigation in New York City claimed the high-end grocery chain consistently overcharges for prepackaged food.

“Straight up, we made some mistakes, we want to own that,” co-CEO Walter Robb said alongside co-CEO John Mackey.

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs released the results of an investigation on June 24 that alleged the area’s Whole Foods stores had consistently listed improper weights on prepackaged food, resulting in overcharges from 80 cents to nearly $15 an item. The department tested 80 product categories…


The DCA “will remain vigilant and hold Whole Foods and other supermarkets accountable for any misleading and deceptive practices.”

The announcement doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. The store has earned its reputation as “Whole Paycheck,” and its practice of hidden GMO ingredients and other questionable ingredients packaged under the image of ‘healthy and organic’ has been telling.

Melissa and I put Whole Foods on the spot about its misleading ‘nothing artificial ever’ attitude:

Our family is on a budget, and though we have dedicated our shopping to buying organic and items screened for ingredients and sourced as best as possible, including lots of local items, we have learned to steer away from Whole Foods, because after filling up a basket full of produce and food for a family of four, hundreds of dollars go by on responsible items.

Perhaps the price is worth it for some, but we have discovered that competitors down the road including the mainstream grocer often offer “organic” box food items like Amy’s brand mac & cheese, breakfast cereals, yogurts, certified gluten free and organic grains and other staples for kids and adults on the shelf – from the exact same brands – for a dollar or two dollars cheaper. Those are not exceptions, but the rule.

Sometimes, I’ve tried to be clever, and before getting the bulk of the groceries somewhere else, we swing in Whole Foods for “just a couple of essential items,” like the Gluten Free sandwich bread (which beats Udi’s Gluten Free bread at any price, and delivers a bigger loaf for just a couple dollars more). But by the time select produce, specialty handcrafted cheese, and perhaps a premium health drink, a bottle of wine or a vitamin supplement are thrown in, sixty or seventy dollars can fly out the window very quickly. Who can honestly afford it?

On the whole, our local co-op – with very good responsible practices that typically top Whole Foods – typically gives a better whole basket price for a variety of trustworthy healthy choices. So does Whole Foods major big business competitor Natural Grocer.

Though not all the prices are cheaper, it is clear that the total value leaves a lot to be desired from Whole Foods… but again, the price gouging comes with the added effect that it has contributed to the reputation that organic foods are too expensive, while much of the public doesn’t understand why it is “worth it,” or simple has no meaningful access to it at all.

Read some studies on the affordability of food dilemma:

Can Low-Income Americans Afford a Healthy Diet? (Adam Drewnowski)

Poverty and obesity: the role of energy density and energy costs (Adam Drewnowski)

The Economics of Obesity: Why Are Poor People Fat?

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