There is such a level of excitement upon entering the doors of Whole Foods.  Mainly because you know you can buy anything there and it’s healthy…. Right? As you browse through the cookie section of sweets made with raw sugar and almond flour, then the bakery section of baked goods made from organic unprocessed flour, and then there is the fancy olive and cheese section that gets you dreaming of your next guilt free wine and cheese party.   OMG, then there is the Organic wine section.  “UMMMM …SCORE!  I’ll take a case”.   How could a store make all of these amazing and delicious foods healthy and guilt free?  Or can they?

The question is:  Are we paying an arm and a leg for these foods that only “claim” to be good quality?  The answer is not as cut and dry as yes or no.  Let’s elaborate…

1.       Just because it’s at Whole Foods does not classify it as healthy

2.       You must look at your labels, they are not all are created equal

3.       Don’t let the glam trick you

Many of us think that Whole Foods can do no harm.  Their name is WHOLE FOODS for the love of Pete… that’s healthy, right?  Well when entering the doors into the healthy haven of almond milk and gluten free you still need to look at your labels.  Only a small percentage of their produce is actually organic (you have to make sure that the produce is labeled as “organic”).  Also, don’t let the “Local” labels trick you.  Just because it is local does not mean that it is organic or non-GMO.  The last time I picked up a local apple it had a four-number sequence sticker that started with a 4, which means GMO.  GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism and that translates into synthetically manufactured produce that has been known to have dangerous health effects including gastrointestinal disruption.

As I traveled to the meat section, I noticed the 1 though 5 rating for their meats.   Which I thought… WOW that is great, people really know what they’re getting.  Then I noticed how ambiguous the statements are.

Overall, you do not want to pay the hefty price tag for any meats rated lower than a 4.  Surprisingly enough, about 80% of the meats and chicken are rated a 1 or a 2.  There are only a few cuts of red meat that are rated a 4.

As you wander toward the fish section the trickiness continues.  The signs say Wild, Farmed, Local… How do I choose?  The Whole Foods fish assistant will also give you a 30 second spiel on how they farm sustainably so you should support how they farm fish.  I silently cringe and chuckle at the same time.  So what do all of the labels mean?  Farmed means that your fish was unnaturally cultivated in science lab then moved into a fish tank or a sectioned-off area in the ocean to grow and live.  The farming that is happening in the ocean is creating a major toxicity issue for the surrounding wildlife and ecosystem.  Farmed fish eat foods like grain and corn that are foreign to their diet which allows them to develop parasites and infections.  These infestations will travel into the water supply eventually affecting wild fish.  Either way it’s gross and not natural.  Wild fish was caught in the ocean and the fish ate what they are designed to eat in nature.  It is best to purchase fish caught farther off-shore such as tuna, mahi mahi, shark, wahoo, tile fish, and swordfish.  The local fish doesn’t mean its wild or farmed, it just means it was caught close by and if you live in NJ you should reconsider that purchase.

The bottom line is: read your labels. Yes, even at Whole Foods. You can always find grass-fed /grass-finished red meat and pasture-raised chickens and eggs at Arctic Butcher in Point Pleasant and wild fish at Spikes Fish Market in Point Pleasant.