Is your Whole Foods declining in quality recently?
May 18, 2017 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Let me acknowledge at the outset that this is an incredibly "First World" problem, but I am curious about others' experiences ... Have you noticed that the prepared foods/hot bar/salad bar at Whole Foods seems to have gone downhill in quality over the past few years? I used to go in there and find a million ready-to-eat things that looked delicious, now it's all just meh. Is this a case of familiarity breeds contempt, or have others also noticed a declining trend? Any idea why?
posted by mccxxiii to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Whole Foods is having problems, basically because every store sells organic food now, so it's probably a combination of lower turnover of prepared foods and cost cutting leading to lower quality. I totally agree, but I don't really shop there much anymore so it's not affected me much.
posted by Huck500 at 2:19 PM on May 18 [4 favorites]

Maybe a local thing? I live in Philly near the new flagship Whole Foods, but even before the new store did not notice a change in quality. We have a lot more options now, and I don't go very often, but a lot of options are the same things I got years ago and seem the same. My mom gets a lot from the salad/hot foods bar at the Whole Foods in the suburbs every Monday, and I'm very sure she would have noticed and stopped going if there were changes for the worse.
posted by DoubleLune at 2:22 PM on May 18

I think it's also that the bar has been raised in general, high and low end. If you live near a big city, you've gone to markets with products and prices that will make you weep. And while Whole Foods was once the only place in the suburbs to get a decent baguette and a turkey that didn't taste like sawdust, even middle-of-the-road markets have that stuff now.
posted by wnissen at 3:57 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]

There was a recent discussion on the Blue that might help give some insight.
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:39 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]

Yes, this has been the case at my Whole Foods.
posted by TurkishGolds at 6:49 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]

About 5 years ago I became horrifyingly nauseated for a week from a Whole Foods hot bar rice and beef stew thing. (And there was zero ambiguity about the cause. I was burping a ghastly rice/beef aftertaste for days.) I've never shopped there since and I'm even a little phobic about their logo. Just seeing it makes me get a hint of that stew taste in the back of my throat. It was that kind of food poisoning.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:42 PM on May 18 [4 favorites]

That seems to be happening at Brooklyn's WF. The store has been getting slightly worse in other areas too - closing the juice bar, eliminating some bulk spices, getting rid of scales in the bulk section, etc.
posted by moonmilk at 7:42 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]

To support your thesis, I also think I got mild food poisoning from eating at a Whole Foods hot bar. IT WAS NOT OKAY.
posted by Aquifer at 8:37 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]

I have also noticed. In my area, WF has expanded quite a bit in the past 10 years or so. They bought out a local grocery chain and installed small-scale stores in those locations. Because every WF has to have some degree of "prepared food," I imagine that it must be difficult for the regional operations people to carefully calibrate how much hot/cold food each location is going to go through. Lower turnover -> food sitting around and getting crusty.

Agreeing with posters above that WF is in trouble. The fact that we as customers are seeing the fraying edges is a really bad sign.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 6:39 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]

I'm not a Whole Foods frequent flier, but I was deeply disappointed (but, at least, not food poisoned) by the hot food bar at the White Plains (NY) store when I visited a week or so back. No visual appeal, grim / unexciting choices, stuff had been sitting there for a while (sauces / gravy congealing), and the sneeze guards were all occluded by age / grease / who knows so it was hard to see what was beneath them. Basically, ANY lunchtime steam table at any random deli in Midtown Manhattan would kick its a**.
posted by MattD at 8:00 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]

Yes. Just got a Whole Foods veggie platter for a party and it was Trader Joe's quality but at Whole Foods prices. This is in California where excellent fresh produce is stupid-abundant.
posted by zippy at 9:00 AM on May 19

Great. Just when my dumbass sleepy town is about to finally get a Whole Foods, Whole Foods jumps the shark.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:04 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]

I haven't noticed that and my WF still has delectable fancy prepared foods daily.
posted by TheClonusHorror at 9:24 AM on May 19

yup. I just moved back to Houston after living in Europe for a year and half. My local Houston Whole Foods hot bar was noticabely more boring (less selection, really basic food instead of interesting, creative recipes) than it was 1.5 years ago.
posted by Brittanie at 11:12 AM on May 19

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