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Whole Foods vs. Giant Foods

Posted Apr 15 2011 10:19pm

I’ll never forget the first time I walked into a Whole Foods, about twelve years ago (back then, it was called Fresh Fields). The “foyer” area between the two sets of doors was stocked with floor to ceiling crates of Clementines. I walked into the store, into the produce section, and was faced with pyramids of the most beautiful apples I’d ever seen, not a single one with a bruise or cut. Walls of bell peppers piled almost vertically, looking as though one pepper removed would send the entire section tumbling down onto the pristine floors. The greens and herbs were the freshest and crispiest I’d ever seen.

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The rest of the store was just as glorious. The freshest, highest-quality cuts of meat. The most beautiful selection of fish, gracefully draped atop huge piles of ice. And don’t even start me on the personal care aisles. Essential oils, herbs, supplements, homeopathic medicines. Back then, I didn’t take any conventional medicine, not even Tylenol for a headache. For my ailments, I took homeopathic pills and brewed herbal teas. (The story of why I stopped that practice is one for another day.) Whole Foods was paradise.

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About six years ago, Whole Foods and I had a falling out. The house I had recently moved into was mere blocks away from a Whole Foods, and I was in Heaven! A year later, the store closed to move to a swankier part of town, and I was livid. I felt snubbed. I decided that Whole Foods was elitist. I held a grudge, refused to shop there anymore. For years. I wish I was kidding.

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A couple of months ago, Whole Foods and I had a reconciliation. All of a sudden, one day I felt ready. Ready to forgive, forget, and move on. After all, things have changed. I live in a different neighborhood. I am a mother now. (<- irrelevant, really, but seems to be the basis of so many of my important decisions these days) Ready to drive the 4.7 miles to the nearest Whole Foods. When I walked through the doors into the produce department, it was like no time had passed at all. The pyramids of apples were still there. The walls of bell peppers were stacked up high next to piles and piles of fresh greens and herbs.

I’ve been really happy shopping at Whole Foods again. They always have exactly what I need (and plenty of things I don’t). For the most part, their food is healthier than regular grocery store food, with wholesome ingredients and many organic options. My biggest (and really only) concern about shopping at Whole Foods is the cost. For produce, meat/fish, etc., I am comfortable paying a slight premium for the quality of food at Whole Foods. But what about staple items where I am buying the exact same thing as at the Giant Food? How do those prices stack up?

To try to answer this question, I did a price analysis of my purchases today, where I could find a comparable product on Peapod.com. According to this, I would have spent roughly the same amount shopping at Peapod (in fact, $6.10 more). If I had hours to spend on this project, I would stop by my local Giant Food and do an item-by-item price comparison. But guess what. I don’t. For now, I am satisfied with my cursory comparison and will tell myself that shopping at Whole Foods doesn’t cost me an extra dime.

Item WF Price Peapod Price Difference
Horizon Organic Cream Cheese 2.19 3.49 -1.30
Fiesta Green Chiles 1.49 2.99 -1.50
Organic Herb Salad 3.99
GT Kombucha 3.39
Newman’s Own Pasta Sauce 3.99 3.29 0.70
365 Brand Marinara 2.29
Baby Spinach 4.99
Kashi Go Lean Crunch 3.49 3.00 0.49
Pacific Almond Milk 1.69 2.99 -1.30
Tabbouleh 3.39 4.79 -1.40
Coconut Milk Ice Cream 5.19
Kale 2.49 2.99 -0.50
Dried Mango 5.99
Amy’s Brown Rice Bowl 4.69 5.19 -0.50
365 Vanilla Whey Powder 9.99
Organic Vegetable Broth 1.99 2.79 -0.80
Organic Garbanzo Beans 1.19 1.29 -0.10
Brussels Sprouts 2.99 2.99 0.00
Larabar 1.29 1.00 0.29
Bell Pepper, Orange 2.69 2.49 0.20
Bell Pepper, Green 1.11 0.99 0.12
Bell Pepper, Red 2.07 2.49 -0.42
Vine Tomatoes 4.43 4.99 -0.56
Bananas 2.73 5.07 -2.34
Organic Cilantro 1.99 1.99 0.00
Organic Baby Carrots 1.69 1.99 -0.30
Jalapeno 0.20 0.20 0.00
Organic Fuji Apples 3.01 2.78 0.23
Asparagus 4.15 1.99 2.16
Chocolate Chips 3.49 2.39 1.10
Mixed Berries (Fresh Fruit) 5.67
Baby Cucumbers 2.99 3.49 -0.50
Bartlett Pears 1.27 0.89 0.38
Organic Kiwi 0.69 1.00 -0.31
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour 2.69
-6.16

Have you ever done a price comparison of Whole Foods with your local grocer? Do your results look similar to mine?

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