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Los Angeles to Whole Foods: a case of "gotcha"

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How often have people who love natural, wholesome, nutritious foods grumbled after shopping at Whole Foods Market? The company, prolific here in California, has long been the darling of the green movement where groceries are concerned. The trendy types, as well as those genuinely entrenched in a lifestyle where pesticides and other undesirable elements are forbidden from the diet, like to think that when they shop at Whole Foods they are getting goods that are exactly what the name implies: whole, as in completely natural, with the integrity nature provides. As in “whole package”, however, it has been discovered—and proven, here in Los Angeles—that you don’t always get what you pay for. (See this June 24, 2014 article and video--http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/whole-foods-pay-800k-overcharging-customers-n139996). Yes, it’s true—Whole Foods Market has been proven to be cheating the public in a variety of ways.

Some may gasp at this revelation—after all, would a company dedicated to offering naturally good products ever stoop to the practices this one has been charged with? That is, of cheating their trusting customers, by short-changing them on the amounts in packages, of not subtracting a container’s weight at the checkout, or other downright dishonest acts? In a word: yes. The foods may be completely unadulterated (let’s hope—although there can be doubts by some along those lines as well, such as where GMO products may be involved) but that does not mean those selling them are pure as the driven snow. (Hey, if people in Southern California knew what snow really is, maybe that would help!). Snow can certainly be slushy and gray when afflicted by impurities; the same can occur with businesses.

The settlement of about $800,000.00 leveled against WFM will not do anything to reimburse the consumers who have long been gouged by this store chain. If anything, the bulk of it will go toward “costs” of the investigation, which has taken place by both state and county inspectors in the past year. If anything more comes out of this mess, it may be that outlets of this store in other locations, including outside California, may collectively flinch and clean up any similar acts they may be committing. The same could apply to other stores who may have been playing fast and loose with weights, packaging, etc. One slip-up resulting in catching cheaters can have the effect of a warning to all those who are pulling similar stunts.

In general, Whole Foods Market has been frequently criticized over the years for its high prices. Part of the findings of this investigation has verified that their products are, indeed, askew—in the way of costing more at the checkout than as advertised. Still, people have kept returning and simply biting the bullet, rather than shopping around for a better deal.

There are alternatives out there, folks: your local farmers’ markets, other chains retailing natural foods such as Trader Joe’s or Sprouts, where many items are significantly lower in price. Even some major chains like Walmart are offering organic products. Get out there and look, the exercise will benefit you as well. Don’t, however, merely keep going back to the same place, no matter what that may be, where you’ve been already realizing all along—whether it’s WFM or elsewhere—and putting up with something you feel is wrong. If you’ve broken the junk groceries habit you can surely break that of getting ripped off over natural foods.

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