On the first Wednesday of every other month, I have a column called Wednesdays at Whole Foods. It showcases the most interesting news, products, store events, and happenings at the company.
TASTING WHILE TWEETING
If you are a wine aficionado, Whole Foods Market has something very cool for you.
On eight different Thursday nights throughout the year, the company hosts Twitter Wine Tastings.
The Twitter Tastings are led and moderated by the global wine buyers Doug Bell and Master Sommelier Devon Broglie, who hand-pick in advance the four wines to be discussed.
Yet, what makes these Twitter chats so compelling is that they are not 100% virtual. At select Whole Foods Market stores, tastings take place where shoppers can sample the wines being discussed while simultaneously Tweeting about them during the online chat.
Not only do these Twitter Tastings allow shoppers to interact with the wine experts from Whole Foods Market, but they help to create and foster a community around people who are passionate about wine.
The next wine chat will take place on April 10th from 7-8 p.m CST and will be part of the Wines of Italy program. The four wines to be discussed are:
· Caposaldo Pinot Grigio
· Monrosso Chianti
· Verrazzano Rosso
· Presto Prosecco
Those interested in the Twitter Tastings can go to wholefoodsmarket.com/wine for more information, and the hashtag used during the wine chat is #WFMwine. Contact your local store to see if it will be sampling wines during the Twitter Tastings.
In March 2013, Whole Foods Market announced its historic GMO-labeling initiative and said that all genetically-modified products in its stores would be labeled by 2018.
A few weeks ago, President A.C. Gallo wrote a blog post where he shared the progress that the company has made over the past year.
To me, there were two things in particular that stood out.
One, only products that are either USDA certified organic (GMOs are prohibited under organic regulations) or Non-GMO Project Verified can label themselves as “Non-GMO”.
Why is this interesting?
Because there are TONS of products that label themselves as “Non-GMO” but have no independent, third-party organization verifying this. “Non-GMO” is a real buzzword these days, and I believe that this label has become severely abused.
So, apparently, does Whole Foods Market. This is a great move.
Two, Whole Foods Market said that many supplements contain GMOs, and it could take a while to find non-GMO replacements. (If you’re asking yourself why supplement companies are using GMOs in the first place, you’re not alone.)
This blog post is an informative and fascinating read.
A NEW MOVE IN THE NON-PROFIT WORLD
In February, Whole Foods Market established Whole Cities Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to supporting efforts to increase access to nutritious, fresh food and health education in underserved communities, and it committed $1 million to jumpstart this initiative. The focus of Whole Cities Foundation will be to build collaborative partnerships with community organizations that are poised to make a significant impact in their neighborhoods.
The Foundation’s first collaborative partnership is with the New Orleans-based ReFresh Project, which was recently cited by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as one of the most promising models for eliminating food deserts, revitalizing neighborhoods, and building healthier communities.
Whole Cities Foundation has committed $100,000 to ReFresh’s Community Health Outreach Program and will work hand-in-hand with ReFresh, Tulane’s Prevention Research Center, and other ReFresh partners on developing, piloting and evaluating the program, including the training and launching of community health workers.
Watch the incredibly inspirational video below about Liberty’s Kitchen, a partner of the ReFresh Project.
ON THE SHELVES
There are many new products on the company’s store shelves that are exclusive to Whole Foods Market and cannot be found elsewhere.
Two of these products were fantastic ones that I found at Natural Products Expo West 2014 just a few weeks ago.
Nutiva may have literally cracked the code when it comes to finding the ultimate butter substitute with its coconut oil buttery spread.
Not only does it taste exactly like butter and is delicious, but this vegan product also uses organic red palm oil, the first fair trade palm oil which is sustainably-sourced from Ecuador. To get a $2 off coupon for Nutiva’s coconut oil buttery spread, click HERE.
I sincerely hope this product becomes a staple in my father’s refrigerator.
When Maren Giuliano, the Executive Body Care Coordinator for Whole Foods Market, took me to see the newest product line from Avalon Organics at Expo West, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I was looking at something very innovative and important.
As many of us know, gluten-free is a massive category in the food world because there are so many people that have gluten allergies or intolerances. So when it comes to personal care products, the same should hold true. This is because lotions, creams, or soaps that contain gluten don’t just sit on our skin but actually get absorbed into our bodies.
While there are many body care products that claim to be gluten-free, none is certified gluten-free. Until now.
Only available at Whole Foods Market, Avalon Organics has introduced the very first body care line made with organic ingredients that is certified gluten-free. Why is this so significant?
Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO), one of the most recognized gluten-free certification groups and the certifier of these products, has incredibly strict standards which include:
– Rigorous cleaning procedures in the production facility
– Tight protocols to prevent cross-contamination with gluten-containing products (wheat, barley, rye)
– Before, during, and after testing of the product
– Products contain 10 PPM (parts per million) or less of gluten while federal standards require gluten-free to be 20 PPM or less.
The fact that Avalon Organics has now become certified gluten-free should give consumers extra comfort and assurance that the product has been independently verified to be free of gluten. And for those who suffer from gluten allergies or intolerances, these are must-use products.
This Avalon Organics product line is comprised of a shampoo, conditioner, bath & shower gel, and hand & body lotion, contains biodegradable, fragrance-free formulas with cucumber extract and aloe, and is made from recyclable bottles from post-consumer material.
One of the most exciting developments out of Whole Foods Market is its new emphasis on biodynamic products.
In short, biodynamic agriculture is an organic and sustainable farming method that treats the soil, plants, and animals as one system and also employs the use of an astrological sowing and planting calendar. One result of using this method is an unquestionably superior taste.
Fortunately for us, several new biodynamic items are now hitting the shelves at Whole Foods Market.
Lakewood Organic is offering organic, biodynamic, fresh-pressed, not-from-concentrate juice that comes in pure pomegranate, pure apple, and pomegranate & black cherry flavors.
Amy’s has launched an organic, biodynamic penne and marinara vegetable bowl, which is the first-ever frozen biodynamic entrée offering at the store.
Lastly, legendary farmer Fred Kirschenmann and his Isis Biodynamic brand are selling organic, biodynamic whole wheat flour. The U.S.-sourced and grown, stone ground whole wheat flour comes from a family-owned farm, and this is the first time ever that it is available nationally in a retail setting.