Whole Foods: A Paradigm of Food Sustainability


With my vegetarian lifestyle, this blog post about Whole Foods was very appealing and interesting for me to read. Whole Foods is considered to be America’s healthiest food market, offering the public a wide range of organic food options. In recent times, people are developing awareness of the positive and negative effects that certain foods can have on one’s health. This health-driven consumer trend allows companies to target these people by offering organically grown and healthy food options. Whole Foods Market has taken advantage on this trend and has become a leader in the organic food industry.

Growing up, I never knew the origins of my food. My Mom would make her classic chicken, rice, and asparagus dinner and I would graciously accept and devour the delicious meal, no questions asked. As I developed an appreciation for the food I ate, I was astonished to learn how certain foods are made. Traditional agriculture is linked with the use of pesticides and toxic chemicals. These unethical methods have potential to cause human illnesses, resulting from the consumption of certain foods. Why would people ingest foods containing harmful substances into their body??  The only answer to that question is the lack of consumer education about food sustainability and the associated benefits. Organic food eliminates the chance of illness and is grown with extreme care. Sustainable farming incorporates ethical agriculture and minimizes the exploitation of animals. Organic food not only benefits one’s health, but also the natural and living environment. But these ethical agricultural practices subsequently result in higher prices. So why are people willing to pay the high prices for organic food at markets, such as Whole Foods? The answer is simple. If organic and healthy food benefits one’s health (both long-term and short-term), then one will pay the higher price. Although, I discovered that the price differences aren’t that large. For example, a study comparing the prices of Whole Foods Market Produce versus Safeway Regular Produce showed the price of a green onion at Whole Foods at $1.29 and at the price at Safeway $0.99. Not that big of a difference, but long-term savings would certainly increase.

From my personal experience, I have found that simply knowing that organic food is healthy does not lead to lifestyle changes. Without experimental evidence, I am rarely convinced. But, I find the following statistic (which focuses on the topic of organically grown versus conventionally grown food) very affective and persuasive. In 2003, a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry discovered that organically grown berries and corn contained 58% more polyphenols (antioxidants that prevent cardiovascular disease) and 52% higher levels of vitamin C than those conventionally grown. Is consumption of traditionally grown foods like purposely swallowing poison? That comparison may be extreme, but I definitely opt to buy fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. Organic food is better for everything involved; the consumers, the company, and the environment. Other food companies would be foolish not to adopt a version of Whole Foods’ business model.

 

http://www.eatingwell.com/food_news_origins/green_sustainable/organic_or_not_is_organic_produce_healthier_than_conventional

http://thebillfold.com/2012/04/is-whole-foods-really-that-more-expensive/

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3 thoughts on “Whole Foods: A Paradigm of Food Sustainability

  1. I think this article is a good one. I agree with a lot of your analysis, but one point in particular I question. You mention that the price of a green onion at Safeway is $0.99 vs $1.29 at Whole foods. I think for a large portion of the population that is a large difference in price. A $0.30 increase on a $0.99 cent item seems very significant to me. My mom is obsessed with Whole Foods. I simply eat what my mom buys, in this case very healthy food. However, other more expensive food items may cost more than an additional 30% of the price at a cheaper store. This comparison reminds me of the environment. No one really cares about taking action as a result of global warming until the effects are visible and “real.” I think this is the same kind of case. Eating unhealthy food often only effects us later on in life, so we don’t see a reason to eat healthy right in the moment. Should the government subsidize these healthier foods so they are reliably available to everyone? Would this lower our healthcare costs? Its an interesting thing to think about, and one that goes along with your argument.

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    1. Thanks for your response! Yes- I said that the price difference wasn’t that large, and I agree that the majority of the population would think otherwise. But long term, this price difference would actually lead to savings. For instance, reduced health care costs in the future. We just need to educate people to realize this. Also, great comparison to global warming. That just shows how most of us are passive rather than active, until we see a visible effect. I could see government subsidizing leading to reduction of healthcare costs. Also maybe taxing bad foods, such as soda and chips, would make a huge difference…

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      1. Agreed. How do you determine what foods make the “healthy” cut and what foods don’t? Certain companies would never be able to make their foods healthier, such as some fast food companies. Would this immediately wipe them out of business all together? If there is a tax, would the tax be significant enough to make certain restaurants food overpriced in the eyes of the consumer? I think this a very intriguing conversation. Government interaction is definitely controversial, but like you mentioned its often what gets the ball rolling in the right direction. With Obamacare rolling out its definitely the time to talk about it while its hot.

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