It’s been just over a year since the Whole Foods opened in downtown Encinitas amid much fanfare and concerns of traffic bottlenecks on Coast Highway. I’ve yet to see the traffic get out-of-hand and it sure is nice to have a market of this caliber in town. There is the constant debate over high prices at Whole Foods and while there is some truth to that, the more expensive items tend to be of the highest quality and meet certain standards of production or harvest that Whole Foods has put in place. I have that internal debate quite often, do I buy the super happy eggs for $7.29 a dozen or just the moderately happy eggs for $2.79? The bottom line is that there are deals to be had at Whole Foods; you just have to shop selectively. Leucadia resident Emily Swanson (pictured) is a frequent Whole Foods shopper but treats it more like her days living in Spain where she would go to the market several times per week for fresh ingredients and the social experience. She finds that between sale items and the Whole Foods 365 branded items, that she does not bust her budget. “I enjoy going to the market and seeing what’s fresh for dinner that night,” said Emily. She added, “I never question the quality of anything I buy there and am actually OK spending a little more to ensure that what I’m eating was raised in humane way or caught in a sustainable manner. Plus it’s just such a fun place to shop.”
I’d have to agree with Ms. Swanson, shopping at Whole Foods is an experience I want to savor. They have created a foodie utopia and their food selection, merchandising, soundtrack, and lighting are in a league of their own. Yes, lighting is important to me and I would imagine it is to most shoppers. I’ve never really understood the harsh florescent lighting that most chain grocery stores have. Lighting like that makes me want to get what I need and get the heck out of there. Their merchandising is very cool also with all kinds of quality, humane treatment, and producer information described in detail on signage. I want to support local farmers and producers whenever possible and without this signage, that can be difficult to do.
When I start to think about my favorite areas of the store, it’s difficult to narrow them down as every aisle and section has products that make me very happy, and often divert me from my original mission to the store. Yeah, I think if I have one beef with Whole Foods, it’s that every time I go there, I am tempted by many items that I did not set out for. But that’s my problem right? I should have the self-control to focus fox and stick to my list. That can be difficult to do walking through the luscious produce section, then the neatly displayed wines with an end-cap featuring a special I just can’t pass up. Then the meat counter with its glistening cuts of happy beef and nice selection of house-made sausage. I don’t even cast a glance at the cheese and salami counter. Too much goodness in there and all it takes is one look and I’m a goner. Yes, I am a weak man. I don’t even attempt to avoid the chocolate bar section. I know going in I’m going to succumb so I simply put it on my list so I don’t feel so guilty. The hot bar, pizza station, and create your own sandwich area have thwarted my dinner plans on several occasion with their made-to-order goodness. I counted over 20 types of fresh bread for sale including one of my all-time favorites, the Sadie Rose pretzel roll. The juice bar is equally tempting and can provide a quick, in between meals pick-me-up. The huge coffee and tea selection is more than good enough for my tastes and I’ve found the house brand of beans to be a great value and brews up nicely.
The Whole Foods in Encinitas has fit in nicely with the community which is part of how they operate. They have a local website that is educational, fun, and details all of their sustainability programs. Check it out at www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/encinitas