Saturday, July 14, 2007

Reason #3 to buy from farmers markets

I went to the local farmers market this morning and as I was buying my produce I learned something new. One of the sellers/farmers was commenting that Whole Foods had become very difficult to deal with as a seller. She said that for a while she was selling her produce to Whole Foods as a local purchasing agent would visit her farm and then buy what they needed. She said that that has since changed and now the only purchasing agent is in Atlanta and he is the only one that you can get a purchase order from. She said that after trying to call him six times, he finally answered her calls and then told her she had to take her produce to a warehouse about 10 miles away, she could not directly deliver the food to the supermarket. She was also told she had to deliver the food between 3 AM and 5 AM and when she got to the warehouse, she had to unload and stack all her own stuff separating it for each separate store. She then also had to shrink wrap the stuff and individually invoice each store. This is a small farm, it is just her and her husband and she felt like it had become too much of a hassle for them to try and deal with Whole Foods. Now this may have been just one farmer's experience with Whole Foods and may not be representative of all Whole Foods, but I still find this disturbing. Whole Foods says they want to support the local farmer and yet the methods that farmers have to go through to get their produce into the market seems to discourage small farmers from selling their produce to Whole Foods. This serves to again encourage corporate farms and discourage the small family farms. I still think that Whole Foods is a great alternative to probably any other supermarket, but am not convinced that it is the great supporter of the local farms like they claim.


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Screw Whole Foods, you live close to Ashevill right? Go shop at EarthFair or at Greenlife. Both sell all manner of organics and products from progressive responsible companies. Whole Foods is becomeing more like the multi-national corps every day, so screw them.

Tengrain said...

You can also look for Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) in your area.

In essence you buy a "share" in a family farm, and your dividend is a weekly box of mixed produce and fruits during the growing season. You buy a new share each year.

It's win-win -- the farm knows it is going to make a profit and sell the produce, and you get incredibly fresh produce.

I've been a member of one in California for about the last five years, and it has changed my eating habits, too. It is amazing what fresh and ripe does taste like.

Whole Foods, not so much.



Boxer rebel said...

Doc-I actually don't live near Asheville, but I am working on finding similar types of places.

Ten-You have suggested CSAs before ad I have looked into them, I just have to find one to support and then that is what I will be doing.

TheCunningRunt said...

I've been a CSA member with a couple of local farms, and it's excellent! And I've dealt with the "Whole Foods" beast back when our local chain was "Bread and Circus," now bought out by Whole Foods, Inc. They're HUGE, and aren't really able to deal with small suppliers.

I used to sell them fiddle heads and wild mushrooms; no more. They want you to supply mass quantities, packaged, invoiced, etc.

So much for supporting the local "little guy."

GourmetGoddess said...

I have been using a CSA and I am a bit underwhelmed by the offerings right now. I am hoping that as summer goes on, I will be more impressed. My costs are $28 a week, and one week I got 2 heads of lettuce, a bunch of spring onions, and a bunch of kale - certainly not a box that will feed two adults and two children, which is what they advertised. So if it gets better, I will be pleased, but if it doesn't, I will be going to the farmers' market directly.

I almost never go to Whole Foods. After I learned about the political leanings of its owner, I try to avoid it.

Jess Wundrun said...

Michael Pollan in Omnivore's Dilemma gives the skinny on Whole Foods, and I highly recommend it.

Many organic farmers aren't going for all the hassle required to get an organic seal, and industrial farms are going ahead and getting one by cutting as many corners as they can.

Remember that the lettuce e coli breakout last year effected an industrial organic producer.

Plus, did you know that the owner of Whole Foods is a republican? And that he is currently in trouble for trying to destabilize the stock price of a company he is trying to buy?

Yeah. Whole Foods is about a centimeter higher on my list than Wal-Mart.