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Eating at Whole Foods: A Review

This week I was excited to visit Whole Foods in Brentwood MO, because I love shopping there and we don’t have one near where I live in Alton. Since I was there at lunch time, I also tried out the buffet for lunch. After that I have one thing to say to Whole Foods powers that be: Give up on the hot food bar. Keep the Salad bar.

I had a small clear tub of salad. The salad choices were wonderful, varied and such a wide variety of dressings to choose from were clearly specially made in store. I selected the Ginger dressing and was not disappointed. It had a nice tang. Not as oriental as I was expecting but still savory and good. What I was most impressed with was they had no nutrition free iceberg lettuce and their romaine lettuce was mostly green and luscious in quality. The other salad greens including baby spinach was wonderful as well. Loved the shredded radish and other veggies and it is something I may try at home in my salads. It spread the veggies through the salad better that way.

I tried a large variety of foods from the hot bar and paid an exorbitant amount of money for what seemed to me a normal amount of food. I am not one of those who load up their plate anywhere, but I had a little of this and a little of that and there was still space in my pressed paper tub.

However when I dug into my hot lunch, I tried item after item and was not finding what I was looking for—something that tasted good. There was little to no flavor. With a store that sells all sorts of herbs and spices in fresh and dried forms, there was simply nothing that had any flavor. The ingredients were no doubt good quality organic food, but the meal reminded me most of lunches with my grandmothers years ago AT THE NURSING HOME. Granted the food was not overcooked and soggy like at the home, but there was clearly no interest in adding even the slightest amount of seasoning, or herbs.

Now I am a genuine foodie. When I go out to a restaurant and taste something new that I like, I will figure out how to make it at home and come really close when I do. The biggest disappointment in a restaurant is when I eat something that is seriously inferior to what I can cook at home. At home we cook Italian, Thai, Chinese, Arab, Mexican, Greek, and even Mom’s American comfort food. I am well versed in the herbs and spices needed for authentic flavor for all of those genres of food. But other than the nursing home I have never been acquainted with the so-called “American BLAND diet” that big corporate restaurants too often use to bland down their spiciest fare.

When I went to Whole foods, I expected to learn about something new…perhaps how to use quinoa and other veggies that I would like to expand my knowledge about. While I am not vegetarian, I do know that we all need to find new ways to enjoy more vine ripe, organic veggies. I am always open to good ways to eat veggies, but I found nothing at Whole foods to emulate. The only thing that had the slightest bit of seasoning was the seafood gumbo and I would call it slightly seasoned not the bombastic Cajun gumbos I was accustomed to in Texas and Louisiana.

Lest you think there were only veggies on the bar they had chicken, fried cod, seafood, and tofu along with a plethora of veggies in various interesting combinations, but after a minute or two of eating our lunch, both my lunch companion and I looked at each other and together proclaimed “It has no flavor”

If America is looking to Whole Foods hot bar to learn new and exciting ways to prepare organic vegetable dishes, then Americans will just continue to kill themselves on too much animal protein and potatoes and imitation foodlike stuff on the side. There was nothing there to consider trying. I would call the Whole Foods Hot bar a total waste of vine ripe organic vegetables and grass fed meats. If food is not enjoyable, why even eat it?

Hint: If the prepared food on the hot bar were good enough it should spur patrons to visit the fresh produce, or meats section to pick up the ingredients to make the dish at home for the whole family. Whole Foods is missing out on that added revenue by having a Ho Hum Hotbar unlikely to get anyone excited enough about the food to buy the ingredients to experiment with at home. If the hot bar worked well enough, then Whole foods could charge much lower prices for the hot bar foods and still make more money than at present when the hot bar is nearly $9 per pound.

I will not be visiting the hot bar again even if it were more in line with the value of the food which I would place at around 90 cents a pound. I won’t buy McDonalds Big Mac at any price either, but at least a Big Mac has a good flavor even if it is all imitation nutrition-void, burgeresque foodlike filler STUFF! ©Copyright 2013 Doug L. Bullock

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