Posts Tagged ‘Whole Foods’

Whole Foods vs. Walmart blind tasting

A mostly anonymous panel of Austinites sat down to food prepared by Fino. One set of ingredients came from an Austin Walmart; the other, from Whole Foods Central. This is reported in the March Atlantic: “The Great Grocery Smackdown,” by Corby Kummer. The results were surprising to some.

All that I find about the tasting panel in the magazine is that among the members were an aromatherapist; James McWilliams, a faculty member from Texas State in San Marcos and author of Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly; and Carol Ann Sayle, of Boggy Creek Farm.

The Atlantic account is quite funny. The ingredients and every course are described in extensive detail. I certainly agree with the comments about injected chicken. I find that there’s also an feature in today’s local daily (byline Addie Broyles; scroll down), which has already attracted comments from two of the panelists, Marshall Wright, not mentioned by name in the magazine article, and James McWilliams.

Readings

Amigoland: mayor's book club

  • The idea of the Mayor’s Book Club is a little bit hokey. Some years I read the book selected and some years I don’t. I’d been passing this year’s by each time I saw it displayed at a library branch, but eventually my resistance broke bown and I borrowed it. You should, too. The various summaries I’ve seen don’t do Amigoland justice. It’s a fast read and an entertaining and good-humored one. I look forward to reading more by Oscar Casares, who teaches at UT.
  • John Mackey, nearly synonymous with Whole Foods, is the subject of a long article in the New Yorker of January 4, with extended quotations from JM himself (“Food Fighter: Does Whole Foods’ C.E.O. know what’s best for you?” by Nick Paumgarten). We read about the WH origin story, with passing reference to Central Market. Although the writer draws out JM very well, he doesn’t have much, if any, success in coaxing others to talk about JM and WF on the record. I enjoyed reading the description of the fountain of chocolate and the brief passing reviews of prepared foods from those counters.
  • Taking his place on a very short list, our own James McMurtry is named Most Valuable Rocker in The Nation of January 11. That is one category among the many in “MVPs of 2009” (byline John Nichols).

Austin ag property pure real-estate play?

Boggy Creek FarmBoggy Creek Farm is featured in today’s WSJ and described more as a prime historic property of substantial size than as a working organic farm: “Where Whole Foods Shops: A historic house on Boggy Creek Farm grows organically in Austin” (byline Katy McLaughlin).

[Before going on to say more about Boggy Creek, since Whole Foods is mentioned in the Boggy Creek subtitle, I’d like to be clear that IMHO it’s no accident that most Austinites have not bothered to comment or blog generally about the recent John Mackey opinion piece on health care, also in the WSJ. Enough of us know people associated with WhoFoo or even Mr. Mackey himself to have formed opinions about this piece. It is of some interest that there are those around the U.S. generally who have not taken kindly to what Mr. M wrote and who state that, as a consequence, they intend to take their business elsewhere (see Facebook page, e.g.).]

Included in the article on Boggy Creek Farm are detailed physical descriptions of the old farmhouse, plus the price originally paid for the farm, what it might have brought at the height of the boom, and speculation about what might be a probable sale price at this time. There’s some discussion of agricultural productivity, coupled with a passing mention of what the per-hour return on the owners’ labor has in the past been calculated to be.

The article in print form is accompanied by three black-and-white photographs; the on-line version shares with us a nifty little color slideshow. Let us hope that the appearance of this article is not a consequence of our drought.

Austin in the greater world

  • In the February issue of Smart Money, on the newsstands now, there’s yet another interview of John Mackey, this one entitled “Growth Slows, but Mackey Doesn’t,” byline Janet Paskin. The blurb as printed is “Shopping may be down at Whole Foods, yet the company’s controversial CEO is still adding stores and pushing high-priced items” (this issue is not yet on line; start with page 24 in the hard copy). What’s especially entertaining is that the interview is conducted at WF world headquarters, and the reporter seems to be awed by the “monument to abundance.”
  • Not satisfied with revealing all about Lance Armstrong’s local abode, Architectural Digest has returned to Austin. In its February before-and-after issue, we see how a sort-of colonial revival house in Tarrytown is altered quite beyond recognition, floor plan included: “Putting a Fresh Spin on Tradition,” byline Jeff Turrentine. In a way, I think that the floor plan reveals more than the photographs do. The architectural firm credited is Miro Rivera. My favorite quotation from this piece is right at the very beginning: “Austin, Texas, is well known as a city that nurtures free expression and rewards eccentricity.”

As seen nationally

  • Alejandro Escovedo has received a lot of coverage in connection with the release of Real Animal. One of the most thoughtful pieces that I’ve seen appears in The New Republic of all places, and might for some reason not receive all the attention that it merits (Breakout, byline David Hajdu, posted on line August 13). I used to go out and hear Rank and File, but never understood the “cow-punk” or “twang-rock” labels. R&F could make some Noise.
  • Those unable to make a 100% investment in canine companionship are now looking into time-share dogs, reports Tuesday’s WSJ (An Idea Whose Time Has Come: The Time-Share Dog, byline Anjali Athavaley). The dog with two names is an Austinite.
  • Austin kitchen diva and all-round general whirlwind of activity Angela Shelf Medearis received nearly an entire page of attention in the June issue of Family Circle magazine for her Book Boosters project.
  • And, then, there’s Whole Foods in the news for its third-quarter results and for working to reposition its brand as an economical choice. This is in the business press everywhere and impossible to overlook.
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