The Bottom Line: Well to do food store chain catering to the left of center crowd who loves all things organic or natural and are willing to pay for it.
I had heard about Whole Foods for years and finally got the opportunity to check it out first hand when we moved to LA. I visited the Whole Foods on Fairfax Avenue in the West Hollywood District.
The store is average enough on the outside but the inside is the mother load of health food grocery stores. Ethnically diverse food from the world over, anything that smacks of health or organic or vegetarian or vegan food can be found here.
The store has a huge variety of food and drink that I had never heard of, soy milk, rice milk, soy ice cream, organic milk products, organically grown fruits and vegetables, meat that contains no antibiotics, free range chickens etc...
The frozen vegetarian section was impressive as well. Of course the Linda McCartney frozen food line was represented. The cheese and olive bar was incredible with cheeses from around the world - there were many samples to be had.
The bakery offered a wide variety of choices such as sugar free, wheat free or gluten free cakes. I had the opportunity to sample some gluten free cake and it was delicious!
The selections were staggering. I also really enjoyed that shoppers could choose the amounts from items such as oatmeal, granola, grains, rice, etc. They are all in huge barrels and you simply scoop the amount you need. What a great idea. You could also grind your own coffee, and peanut butter from a wide variety of choices.
The cereal aisle contained many many brands that I had never heard of but contained limited ammounts of processed sugar. That was a nice treat from the sugar loaded cereal choices from regular grocery stores. No Captain Crunch here!
Fresh and organic salad bars filled with freshly made hummus, guacamole, potato salads, oriental salads...etc.... It seems many people will eat here for supper - load up a plate with multi ethnic goodies (I had the samosa's and Indian chicken curry which was very fresh and wonderful.) There are booths in the front of the store to eat inside or tables and chairs outside.
Additionally, they have massage therapists contracted and massage people down while their family shops. What a good idea. In the bath and beauty products, their selections have not been tested on animals. Make up, hair products, vitamins all were well represented.
The down side of Whole Foods would be the prices and the parking! A gallon of milk was roughly $5.00 which is double what a Kroger or Ralph's would charge. A smallish 16 inch cake was listed as $16. There are no shopping incentives such as club cards either.
Parking is always a challenge and the store seems packed almost all of the time. It was hard to maneuver your buggy down the aisles.
There were also no foods that were deemed "unhealthy" by Whole Foods. There were no sodas, no regular brands of chips or cookies or cereals. The interesting question is who decides what is healthy? Does Whole Foods stock foods that they approve of or what the market demands?
Overall a must see for those of us who are concerned for their food health.
Update - In 2006 - Whole Foods announced it would cease selling live lobster and crab as they are not treated ethically while being shipped and handled. Kudos!
Kid Friendliness: No Vegetarian Friendly: Yes Notes, Tips or Menu Recommendations Exotic, wide variety, incredible selections! Best Suited For: Trendy Crowd