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Whole Foods Market

May 17, 2011

This past weekend I had the opportunity to check out the new Whole Foods Market opening up in Franklin with some of my fellow Nashville Food Bloggers. Not only was it great to put faces to so many of the great blogging names we have in this city, but fun to get a behind the scenes look at the store before it opened. For those of you who live out in the Franklin area the new store is off McEwen right near 65. The location near Cool Springs Mall will be closing to be replaced by this new location – and the Tuesday Franklin Farmers Market will now take place in the Whole Foods parking lot. Tomorrow, Wednesday May 18th, is their grand opening and they have free breakfast and all kinds of funs tuff going on in the morning if you want to check it out!

The group of about 25 of us were taken around department by department to get a view of the store and learn a bit more about the awesome products Whole Foods aims to bring to its customers.

I love me some bulk spices – it can be so cheap (sometimes merely because the scanner cannot even sense that it weighs anything…), plus you can buy just a little at a time so you don’t end up with a spice you used once 5 years ago that is still hanging out in the back of your cabinet. Their dispensers even have measuring devices attached so if you only need a tablespoon – thats all you get!

YUM – thats all I can say

Bulk/fill your own container laundry detergent and dish soap!

Mmmm, cheese samples

Just a small list of the many many local producers they use

The cheese mongers and their kingdom! (How do I sign up for that job?)

Finally we got to eat some cheese of our own, WFM sure knows the way to a food writers heart!

Overall the tour was great, I think the biggest highlight for me was learning about some of the programs they offer, and standards they have for their products

1) Bring your own container – you can bring in any container from home, stop by the customer service desk for them to weigh and tag it for you, then you can go fill it with bulk spices, laundry detergent, grains, pasta, whatever, and they just charge you for the weight of what you added to it! Expect me to start bringing my empty spice jars with me so I remember what I am out of!

2) They will prep pretty much anything you want to cook – so even for those of you without the desire or skill to come up with a recipe on your own, just walk up to the meat or fish counter, tell them what you are thinking and they can spice, marinade, you name it, right there for you.

3) The ANDI Score 

Whole Foods has adopted a method of ranking nutritional value in produce known as the ANDI score. ANDI stands for “Aggregate Nutrient Density Index” and ranks the nutritional value per calorie of food. The scores ranks everything from Kale at 1000 to Cola at 0.6 depending on their nutritional value. We were told that all raw produce in WFM will have a sign stating its ANDI score, to help consumers make more educated decisions. Pretty cool!

4) Sustainable Fish

Whole Foods works very hard to ensure the seafood they are selling comes from sustainable fisheries, use safe fishing methods and that they are not being over fished. These seals on each fish label indicate where the fish falls in the spectrum. They also say that more than likely the fish in their case was caught less than 48 hours ago, they work closely with fisherman on a daily basis to ensure that you are getting the freshest, safest seafood possible. The other great thing is that any of the fish that you find in their frozen or smoked sections follow these same standards before they are brought into the store.

5) 5 Step Animal Welfare Rating

WFM has developed a 5 step program in rating the farms that supply their chicken, beef and pork to ensure that you are getting not only quality meat, but that the animals were treated fairly. Each of these steps requires that the step before it also be completed.

1 – No Cages, No Crates, No Crowding
2 – Enriching Environment
3 – Enhanced Outdoor Access
4 – Pasture Centered
5 – Animal Centered, No Physical Alterations
5+ – Animal Centered, Entire Life on Same Farm 

They work with the farms to encourage them to climb these steps, and as you would imagine steps 5 and 5+ are pretty difficult stages to reach, and I believe at this point only a couple farms have reached step 5. Regardless it is good to know the goals they are shooting for, and that at the very least their minimum is still a great step!

I hope you guys check out the things they have going on over at Whole Foods – I must admit I am a fan. 

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