Whole Foods Market

Twin Cities, Minnesota


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I think this Whole Foods has a good selection of vegan packaged goods (such as soy/rice/coconut milks, mockmeats, and desserts). The prices are pretty decent on vegan items as well (for example, Field Roast sausages are only $4.99 here, as opposed to $6.59 at The Wedge).

However, it has a mediocre hot foods section. It only has a few, bland-tasting vegan dishes; their hot wok Asian area is a tad overpriced and also too processed-industrialized in its offerings (tofu teriyaki bowl, etc.).

That said, they do have a wonderful vegan pizza (slices cost about $3 or you can get a whole fresh pie for $12 Thurs-Tues, and $10 on Wednesdays). The pizza comes loaded with tons of vegetables, including spinach, bell peppers, garlic and olives and is made on a delicious whole wheat crust.

This store also has at least three or four high quality vegan desserts, including vegan cakes and cookies from The Chicago Diner. This makes the place serviceable.

Parking is difficult as it's a small lot in a confusing, busy 3-way intersection.

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I find their prices very reasonable for organic/natural products, and they carry harder to find veggie frozen foods which are a staple for home-cooking. They have veggie/vegan offers in their deli case, and while salad bars sometimes skeeve me out, theirs looks fresh and sanitary. My favorite is the thai noodle salad... mmm peanut dressing and crunchy cabbage.

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Whole foods is a nice place to go if you need to grab some food unexpectedly. They have a nice selection of vegan food stuffs, and the desserts are pretty good, although I will agree that there's something lacking in the non-rotation thing. The guy who owns or runs whole foods (one of the two) supposedly went vegan after Viva! pushed a campaign for them to stop selling fois gras, and now he's implementing some sort of 'animal welfare' standards for animal products the chain will sell. Granted, this is hear-say, but it's hear-say from the AR2004 conference. It's a good direction for a grocery chain to be heading (if it's true).

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the proposal that whole foods' bakery in any way exceeds that at the wedge is quite incorrect! i cite the following reasons:

selection: whole foods has a mere three different breeds of vegan cake, four breeds of vegan cookie, and two vegan "bars"--and that's it! no muffins, no scones, no pies, no lemon squares! there will be no excitement for you peering into the bakery case, because if you go there once you will already know exactly what they have, and it doesn't ever change. if you like predictable drudgery from your dessert line-up, it's okay. if you like mystery, luck, and adventure, the wedge has about a million more choices!

quality: the cookies are all very good--especially the chocolate chip and snickerdoodle. the cakes, however, are lousy! freshness is an issue. at the wedge, they cut a slice of cake just for you (and you can say "make it really big!"), but at whole foods you retrieve your pre-cut slice from a lowly refrigerated case that isn't even located within sniffing distance of the bakery counter. i don't know how long those slices have been there, but my piece of strawberry cake was wet as clouds. nor was the carrot cake delicious. it might come down to their recipes, which use exclusively maple syrup to sweeten, and vegetable oil instead of soy margarine. this makes for very wettish cake. too dense. that sort of cake makes me feel sick.

no coercion: since whole foods is a chain, the recipes and everything are handed down from a national authority who tells them what to bake. many years ago, they made a really delicious vegan carrot cake, and suddenly stopped. i asked about that carrot cake a hundred times, but the people at the bakery couldn't do anything about it--they said the company just decided not to have it anymore. end of story, end of good carrot cake! at a co-op you can say or write a comment that someone at the store will at least pretend to care about, even if they never do make the blueberry shortcake you recommended.

my feelings for baked-goods are quite strong. if you are not psychologically dependent on muffins and cake you will probably find whole foods satisfactory for your grocery needs.

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It's the only place I've found in the twin cities that carries my favorite soda (Twisted Bean Vanilla Brew). Not a bad place to go, but I rarely frequent. They are quite concerned with carrying organic produce and product, and not as much with carrying vegan products.

Image for Dave Rolsky

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I hate to say it, but Whole Foods now has better vegan deli and bakery items than the Wedge. The bakery has fewer items, but the ones I've tried have been much better, particularly the German chocolate and strawberry cakes. The deli, while not as good as Whole Foods that I've been to in other states, is still pretty good, plus there's a nice soup and salad bar.

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