Growing up in Austin, Texas, the hometown of Whole Foods, I had gourmet groceries on every block. Here in Hawaii a Whole Foods experience is a little different than in the mainland because of the exorbitant island prices. After a visit to the new Whole Foods store in Kailua, I left overwhelmed, without any real groceries to take home, and a little depressed.
I definitely have a love-hate relationship with Whole Foods. I love the idea of “high quality, natural and organic products,” but hate the high prices. Who can pay $5 for a handful of broccoli, $5.99 for 16 ounces of salsa, and $15 for lunch from the hot food bar?
Don’t get me wrong the new Kailua store is impressive! The store is a lot larger than the Kahala branch and filled with wall to wall fresh, tasty, and politically correct products. “Politically correct-LY” fooling consumers more like it?!! This brings up my dilemma, “to Whole Foods, or not to Whole Foods?” Drain my bank account on items that I think are fresh-ER, healthi-ER, and bett-ER than the average grocery store?
So, after a little investigating with the “Taryn price comparing gauge” I found out that a lot of the items found in Whole Foods can be found at many other grocery stores, open markets, and farmers markets, some cheaper and some NOT.
Silk Vanilla Soy Creamer is $2.49 at Whole Foods and $3.39 at Safeway. Whole Foods Salsa is $5.99 and up and Safeway Select Salsa vary in price from $3.99-$4.99. A tiny container of peeled garlic at Whole Foods was $3.99 and at the open market you can get a little more for $2. You can even get a better deal at the Korean Markets near Ala Moana. Wine at Whole foods is usually more expensive for the same bottles you can find at Safeway or Tamura’s, but they may have some bottles on sale that are sub-par.
Meats at Whole Foods are the only thing that I will pay more for because they are free range, hormone free, organic, etc, etc, and to me that is worth the extra money. I am still on the fence with the veggies and fruits because Whole Foods advertises organic and locally grown produce, and you can always get the same veggies and fruits at open and farmers markets for less money.
So what is my conclusion? Nada, nothing, and the continuation of my torturous dilemma of paying a little more for “better food.” I will continue to shop at Costco, Safeway, Foodland, Walmart, Long’s, open markets, Chinatown, and yes Whole Foods. I will continue to make my shopping lists, clip coupons, religiously compare prices, scan the aisles for discount tags, and pay $6.99 for a gallon of milk. As my friends in Texas say, “that’s what you get for living in paradise!” I guess their right!