Often times, I have preached about the difficulty to know what you are truly eating when dining out. Not all restaurants respect the fact to use different utensils, gloves or anything else when it comes to preparing meat and veggie-friendly food separately. However, when it comes to grocery stores like Whole Foods Market, this was always a safe haven place to cater to my dietary needs. That was true until the first error that occurred in July 2013.
For sometime now, I frequent the prepared food section at Whole Foods Market in Boca Raton, Fla. It is a great option for those days that I do not feel like cooking. In July of this year, I noticed the first incident that bothered me. As I walked through the salad section, I noticed they had some fish as a topping.
Since I have never eaten fish in my life, I am not sure which one it was. Regardless, people were grabbing the fish to top their meals. Pieces of the seafood was now mixed in with the roasted garlic section. Since I have an unspoken love affair with roasted garlic, I found this to be a disappointment.
I went to take a picture of fish that landed in the other food sections, and a staff member came up asking if everything was okay. In my mind, I thought about this was going to be a blog post, but that did not happen (until now). This was the first incident that occurred that bothered me. Maybe I am being whiny, but why could they not separate the animal and plant-based products in a better fashion?
This goes for many of their prepared foods. They always have the meat products tumbling into the plant-based products. It has ruined and limited my selections various times.
That was the first incident. Let me go into the second occurrence, which I found even worse. As a vegetarian, I still eat dairy and eggs. However, it is very limited to the amount that I consume these days.
Even though I still eat dairy, I make it a point to avoid certain ingredients like rennet. In case you do not know, rennet comes from the stomach of slaughtered, unweaned calves. As I was browsing the Whole Food Market prepared section again, I came across the mac & cheese options. I have always been a fan of this classic American dish.
As always, I check the ingredients. My attention was immediately directed towards the one labeled (in bold!) vegetarian. As a natural reaction, I still scanned the ingredient’s list. To my surprise, the vegetarian one had rennet.
I brought this to the attention of an employee in that department. He just removed the sign. That was it. Now, any passersby would not know the ingredients at all.
Finally, today was the last straw. I did not have a chance to go grocery shopping over the weekend. I decided to pick up some prepared foods from Whole Foods Market for dinner. Since my sister/roommate is vegan, I always make sure to pick up something that does not contain dairy or eggs. I came across a product called Kasha Varnishkes.
On the label of the prepackaged food it read, “Vegan” in bold writing above Kasha Varnishkes. When I checked the ingredients, it contained cage-free eggs. I pointed it out to an associate and said that this is not okay. He agreed with me and pulled the items from the shelf.
I proceeded to say, “I may choose to not eat many of these items, but what happens if someone with an egg allergy eats this and ends up in the hospital?” I was just so mad. If there were one place that I can trust without having to read every single label, it would be Whole Foods Market. At least, that is what I thought.
I do not want to say that all Whole Foods Market is this careless because the other closet location to me is in Wellington, Fla. I have never had an issue there. However, the Boca Raton location has completely lost my business. Besides the local famer’s markets, when Trader Joes and Fresh Market opens in Delray Beach, just know that is where my money will be going.