Skip to main content

The Whole Foods Price Myth

Now that my closest grocery store is a Whole Foods, I've been going there fairly regularly. People have asked "how can you afford it?" and "isn't it really expensive?" I think the answers to these questions depends on how we thinking about value and cost.

(from flickr user kalebdf)

The Undercover Economist wrote about this phenomenon in his book by the same name, pointing out that an identical basket of goods actually cost less at Whole Foods than it did at his local Safeway, but that a typical basket of goods cost more at Whole Foods. The reason is that the average shopper at a Safeway is more likely to opt for cheapo value brands and other inferior products, whereas shoppers at Whole Foods are more likely to go for premium stuff.

In which case, it's really not so much about the store as it is about the shopper.

Plus, Whole Foods's 365 brand is noticeably less expensive than some of the other stuff in the store and, in my opinion, actually quite good, unlike some other crummy store brands. Since I'm not particularly concerned about organic, so as long as it tastes good, it's a winner in my book.

Lastly, because it's relevant, I'm with Michael Pollan on this question of the Whole Foods boycott. If I stopped doing business with otherwise good companies because their executives were bad at keeping their mouths shut on politically contentious issues, it would probably just cause a new set of problems.

Comments

danielstrauss said…
My major problem with Whole Foods is that it's...well, organic. I'm a slow eater, more a nibbler and the organic aspect means the food goes bad very fast. Not a good match for me.
Anonymous said…
@danielstrauss:

yea, because we would rather have food that's injected with so many chemicals that it doesn't go bad for weeks. Seriously, what do you think causes half the diseases and cancers out there today. It's what they are doing to our food. Our food is being gene altered before it's even grown. Have you heard of "Round Up" ready food?
watch it here---> http://www.hulu.com/watch/67878/the-future-of-food
akari said…
@ anon

lol I can't believe someones reason for not wanting to eat organic food would be it "degrades like real food".
Mary said…
My in laws have eaten organic food (all vegetarian) for years and they have loads of health issues. However, my family and I have eaten nothing but cheap, store brand food full of preservatives and no one in my family has a single health issue.
Anonymous said…
@Mary - Health issues between your in laws and your family have to do with much more than just what kind of food you eat. You can't say that just because you and your family are healthy and eat cheap food means that you and your families choice of consuming cheap food makes it better than organic food.

Popular posts from this blog

In Praise of Southwest's 'C' Boarding Group

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from someone complaining that their Southwest Airlines boarding pass had been assigned A20 (meaning they would be at least one of the first twenty passengers to board the plane). Apparently this person though they should have been assigned a higher number, less their flight experience be considerably spoiled.

Despite the complaints, Southwest has resisted demands to assign seats on its flights, a decision which I personally applaud. I'll admit that I was skeptical when they rolled out the newest boarding procedure, assigning both boarding groups and a line number; but in hindsight it seems like one of the best operational decisions they've ever made. If nothing else, it effectively eliminated the infamous "cattle call" whereby fliers were getting to airports hours in advance and sitting in line on the floor as if they were waiting for the midnight showing of the new Star Wars movie.

When I was an intern at Southwest Airlines last winter, I…

So You Want to be a Southwest Airlines Intern?

My personal website must have pretty decent SEO - because in the past year, I've received about two dozen emails from aspiring Southwest Airlines interns looking to draw on my experience in search of their own dream internship. In the past two weeks alone a few new emails have already started rolling in...

(from flickr user San Diego Shooter)

If you've found your way here, you might be hoping for the silver bullet; a secret tip that will propel you above the competition. Unfortunately, I do not know any inside secrets. I can only share my experience as an internship candidate about two years ago and, rather than responding individually to future emails I anticipate to receive, I hope that potential interns will find the information posted here valuable.

Understand: Southwest Airlines is a very unique company. The corporate culture at Southwest is truly unlike that of nearly every other company. But you probably already knew that, since it now seems mandatory for every management,…

Mixing Sports and Business

In the last two days I've devoured every article in the Washington Post about the Nationals painful and epic defeat on Friday night in the NLDS. It was a tough way to see the season end, there's no doubt about that.

(from wallyg on Flickr)
These articles make it clear that there are a lot of people emotionally invested in professional sports. I think they sometimes they forget that, ultimately, Major League Baseball is big business. Each team is a major corporation and the league itself is an organization governed by a bunch of executives. The television networks that show the games are under contract with the team owners and the games aren't usually available to those without cable.

This is why it can be so hard to be a fan in this game. It's the multi-millionaire and billionaire owners that call most of the shots. They get to decide how much they're willing to spend on players. They get to decide who to hire as the CEO of the company. They get to decide how much t…