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Old 11-29-2012, 12:17 PM   #21
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We are in the heart of Whole Foods country. Around here it's also known as Whole Paycheck.

Last week we bought a pecan pie for Thanksgiving. We have had one from them many times in the past. This year they added a new ingredient - corn syrup. They have carried out an amazing transformation from a small, premium-priced grocer focused on organic, healthful products to a large scale grocer focused on marketing a healthful foods image with a mix of organic and healthful foods and the same stuff everyone else sells but with different packaging. Their branding effort has been very successful.
Corn Syrup? That is a big change for whole foods. Is there corn syrup that isn't from GMO corn?
(It's one of the reasons I bake my own pecan pies... pie crust from organic butter (vs shortening) and I use brown sugar rather than corn syrup.)

Oh - that's another organic ingredient we get at costco - organic butter. And when we do a lot of pies (like at thanksgiving) organic heavy whipping cream (for the "real" whipped cream.)
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Old 11-29-2012, 01:39 PM   #22
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For us the full "Costco Effect" can only be had when one lives in a city that has both Costco and Trader Joe's. It saves us enough money that both stores being present are now part of our retirement destination requirements when/if we return to the U.S. (we're currently full-time in Mexico). At Costco the savings on olive oil, organic chicken and real (Reggiano) parmesan alone more than pay for our membership, while at TJ's the wine, beer and chocolate (see, I've covered all the essential food groups) probably save us 40-50% over all other options.

As for Whole Foods, the company I worked for got bought by them and Michael B's assessment is spot on.
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:35 PM   #23
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Oh, right, I forgot about the cheese! Awesome cheese.

We found that cutting the big blocks of cheese in say four pieces, and then vacuum packing three of them, the vacuum packed ones last for up to the sell-by date if not longer. That's how we handle the larger quantity.

And, yes, the parmesan is incredible.
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:45 PM   #24
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We are in the heart of Whole Foods country. Around here it's also known as Whole Paycheck.

Last week we bought a pecan pie for Thanksgiving. We have had one from them many times in the past. This year they added a new ingredient - corn syrup. They have carried out an amazing transformation from a small, premium-priced grocer focused on organic, healthful products to a large scale grocer focused on marketing a healthful foods image with a mix of organic and healthful foods and the same stuff everyone else sells but with different packaging. Their branding effort has been very successful.
We shop at Whole Foods on an exception basis, though mostly due to distance from home. We've never bought anything other than food items there, the personal care items have always been outrageously priced. But I'll have to look more carefully next time (probably this Sat on the way home from Oakbrook), I hadn't noticed the transformation that's taking place...thanks for the heads up.
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:45 PM   #25
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[QUOTE=rodi;1253250]Corn Syrup? That is a big change for whole foods. Is there corn syrup that isn't from GMO corn?
QUOTE]

You do realize that corn itself is the first and original 'genetically modified' crop, right?

If it wasn't for massive human-involved genetic modification/coercion, there would be no corn at all, it would just be grass.
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:49 PM   #26
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If it wasn't for massive human-involved genetic modification/coercion, there would be no corn at all, it would just be grass.
What are you talking about? I tried Google and I'm mystified by your statement...North American Indians were engaged in GM in the 1600s?
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:57 PM   #27
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Yeah, we have been going to Costco for years. Meats, poultry, fish, veggies, cheese, wine, big screen TVs. And most of my ER wardrobe.
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:58 PM   #28
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What are you talking about? I tried Google and I'm mystified by your statement...North American Indians were engaged in GM in the 1600s?
Ok. Most people know that corn (maize) comes from the grass teosinte which was heavily, heavily genetically modified by the Native Americans starting about 6000 years ago.


Quotes from "1491" page 196 by Charles Mann:
"...modern maize was the outcome of a bold act of conscious biological manipulation--arguably man's first, and perhaps his greatest feat of genetic engineering.......it makes 21st century scientists look like pikers.....somebody who did that today would get a Nobel Prize! If their lab didn't get shut down by Greenpeace..."

I just chuckle when people want 'non genetically modified corn'. It's been a GMO for 6000 years.

IIRC, corn today cannot grow/germinate without human intervention.
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Old 11-29-2012, 03:04 PM   #29
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Ok. Most people know that corn (maize) comes from the grass teosinte which was heavily, heavily genetically modified by the Native Americans starting about 6000 years ago.
I guess I'm one of the few who didn't know that...though it was 10,000 years ago.

The Evolution of Corn Interesting nonetheless.

And I didn't realize that hybridization and GMO were universally considered the same http://www.pbs.org/pov/hybrid/getinvolved_article.php.
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Genetic engineering is the process of breaking the natural boundaries that exist between species to produce new life forms that will produce a variety of desired traits. For example, genes from salmon can be spliced into tomatoes to make them more resistant to cold weather, thereby yielding a larger crop when the weather is less than favorable. Hybridization is the fertilization of the flower of one species by the pollen of another species-or artificial cross pollination (right?).

Many argue the two are essentially the same thing. "Here's the secret of hybrid corn. Hybridization is just crude genetic engineering," says the technology commentator Robert X. Cringley.

However many scientists, like the Cambridge-based Union of Concerned Scientists (http://www.ucsusa.org/index.html) argue that there needs to be more research done on the effects of these new crops on the environment and on the people eating them in the long term.
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Old 11-29-2012, 03:08 PM   #30
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I am pretty happy with Whole Foods. Yes, it is pretty pricey in general, but I buy only basic ingredients there - meat, fish, and veggies mostly. Better quality ingredients than Safeway IMO, and better service for sure. Our food bill is about the same as it was in AL where we shopped at Publix.
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Old 11-29-2012, 03:11 PM   #31
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Almost nothing we eat is "natural" in the sense of growing wild without human modification. We have achieved massive change in plant and animal genomes through centuries of breeding. Virtually none of this stuff existed in pre-historic times. All that is different in the 21st century is we just have more precise tools today. I can see some value to the "organic" focus on how the plants are fertilized and pest controlled but have no particular problem with GMOs.
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Old 11-29-2012, 05:07 PM   #32
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For us the full "Costco Effect" can only be had when one lives in a city that has both Costco and Trader Joe's. It saves us enough money that both stores being present are now part of our retirement destination requirements when/if we return to the U.S. (we're currently full-time in Mexico). At Costco the savings on olive oil, organic chicken and real (Reggiano) parmesan alone more than pay for our membership, while at TJ's the wine, beer and chocolate (see, I've covered all the essential food groups) probably save us 40-50% over all other options.
I'll need to investigate further. I do agree on the Costco/Trader-Joes synergy. And filling in with some ethnic markets for variety and sometimes amazingly cheap stuff.

But it sounds like we do it backwards - we've been buying Olive Oil and Parm at TJ's rather than Costco. Wine & beer is split, but mostly from a large liquor store near here (Binnys), plus home-brew.

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Old 11-29-2012, 05:40 PM   #33
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Don't know where ya all but my local Costco is pathetic. I just could not justify paying $110 for the membership. Very limited selection and sometimes the items are never to be seen again. As simple as pitted dates, I have been looking in the store for last 3 months and no sign of them. The grocery section is total crap and expensive. My round the corner small grocery store sells at that price. ShopRite is cheaper than Costco. Organic produce, no sign of it.

Good that I got their card otherwise I was not planning to renew the membership.

This is near NYC if anyone thinks which corner of the US I am talking about.
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:59 PM   #34
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I'll need to investigate further. I do agree on the Costco/Trader-Joes synergy. And filling in with some ethnic markets for variety and sometimes amazingly cheap stuff.

But it sounds like we do it backwards - we've been buying Olive Oil and Parm at TJ's rather than Costco. Wine & beer is split, but mostly from a large liquor store near here (Binnys), plus home-brew.

-ERD50
While the basic Kirkland extra virgin olive oil in the 2 liter plastic containers is good for cooking and serviceable for salads, the real prize is the vintage-dated Tuscan olive oil at about $11 per liter. It's better than anything sold at Whole Foods (with the exception of ~$40 for 500 ml. Laudemio - not in our ER budget!)- really fabulous stuff.

They have both regular and the extra-aged (stravecchio) Reggiano Parmesan at unbeatable prices. Yes it's a large piece, but if you cut it and double-wrap it in foil it'll keep for months.

Costco's Kirkland Signature private label food products are, across the board, really top quality stuff - and ditto with their wine selections under that brand. Unlike Wal Mart/Sam's which just focuses on price, or Whole Foods which wants you to believe that high price is some sort of quality statement Costco is really serious about delivering high quality in their private label products. It's also worthwhile to shop for food online at Costco.com. You can get things like saffron and really good balsamic vinegar, and this time of year there are pretty amazing deals on things like prosciutto, prime meats and other special occasion foods.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:15 PM   #35
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While the basic Kirkland extra virgin olive oil in the 2 liter plastic containers is good for cooking and serviceable for salads, the real prize is the vintage-dated Tuscan olive oil at about $11 per liter. It's better than anything sold at Whole Foods (with the exception of ~$40 for 500 ml. Laudemio - not in our ER budget!)- really fabulous stuff.
Thanks - I'll have to try that OO.

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They have both regular and the extra-aged (stravecchio) Reggiano Parmesan at unbeatable prices. Yes it's a large piece, but if you cut it and double-wrap it in foil it'll keep for months.
If you have a Foodsaver, my experience is vacuum packing smaller pieces of the cheese makes it last a very long time. Yes, the parmesan is incredible.

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Costco's Kirkland Signature private label food products are, across the board, really top quality stuff - and ditto with their wine selections under that brand. Unlike Wal Mart/Sam's which just focuses on price, or Whole Foods which wants you to believe that high price is some sort of quality statement Costco is really serious about delivering high quality in their private label products. It's also worthwhile to shop for food online at Costco.com. You can get things like saffron and really good balsamic vinegar, and this time of year there are pretty amazing deals on things like prosciutto, prime meats and other special occasion foods.
Apparently Costco does a lot of product testing, chooses their products based on that, and also makes lots of suggestions to the manufacturers on how to improve their products.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:45 PM   #36
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Costco is awesome! For many products. I got my 2nd credit card, an American Express just to use there - they don't accept any others except for Discover maybe. They are very good for produce, fruit, bread of all types, nuts, canned goods, pet food, dairy - the list goes on. But, I rarely buy meat there. We have Belair/Raleys and Safeway in my area and we buy meat from them on sale. Today I bought 5 black angus six lb cross cut roasts(bottom round) for $1.99 a pound. We had a pot roast for dinner and I am finishing up a batch of my "famous" sweet/hot jerky from one of the roasts
You can save alot by going to Costco and get quality food - but shopping JUST the sale items at the local grocery stores can pay off as well.

I do appreciate the Costco products and and prices.
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Old 11-30-2012, 12:43 AM   #37
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I am not a "warehouse shopper" by nature, but I find the Costco environment just fine - especially now that I know where everything is.
That won't last long, they like to move things around pretty often. That allows you to keep 'finding' things everytime you shop.
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Old 11-30-2012, 12:55 AM   #38
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Ok. Most people know that corn (maize) comes from the grass teosinte which was heavily, heavily genetically modified by the Native Americans starting about 6000 years ago.


Quotes from "1491" page 196 by Charles Mann:
"...modern maize was the outcome of a bold act of conscious biological manipulation--arguably man's first, and perhaps his greatest feat of genetic engineering.......it makes 21st century scientists look like pikers.....somebody who did that today would get a Nobel Prize! If their lab didn't get shut down by Greenpeace..."

I just chuckle when people want 'non genetically modified corn'. It's been a GMO for 6000 years.

IIRC, corn today cannot grow/germinate without human intervention.
Sure, in the same sense that dogs and cows and horses and cats and every other domestic animal or crop are genetically modified.

But selective breeding and manual pollination are not what people are talking about in the current debates over GMO crops.

Ha
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Old 11-30-2012, 04:50 AM   #39
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Another "Aldi Effect" person here. Costco is too far away and, being single in a condo, I don't want bulk items. I can walk to Aldi and find many things I need there that I eat on a weekly basis: oatmeal, yogurt, nuts, cheese, fresh produce of all kinds, eggs, etc. I don't eat a lot of processed or packaged food and you can get by at Aldi just fine without doing so. The quality is great and the savings are kind of incredible. . . I just wish my cats liked their brand of cat food.
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Old 11-30-2012, 07:02 AM   #40
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Ha ha! You can't argue that. We used to live in Austin TX (headquarters for Whole Foods) and shopped there for years before they launched on to the national scene. And we also called it Whole Paycheck. After years of full-timing I got used to not having a Whole Foods all the time, otherwise I might not have been able to settle down here!

But it's good to know Chicago is a major Whole Foods city. It's really an amazing store, and I'm glad they've been wildly successful. Actually, the TX HEB chain is so great because they have to compete with Whole Foods Market.

I suspect my grocery bills were the highest when I lived in Austin........
Well, I do live in Austin and have to agree - I've been in WF just twice, neither time did I spend any money, just walked around in awe at how much they were charging. And the people scarfing up the product.......

I find myself doing the majority of our weekly grocery shopping at HEB, with less and less from WalMart and even less and less from Sam's (which I really don't see having any price advantage at all over WalMart) and Costco (which I'm starting to question the value of the annual membership).

Yeah, HEB is turning out to be our primary source of groceries. We eat very well on about $100 a week and rarely eat out.

And yes....it does seem groceries are much higher in Austin - when we are in San Antonio or Corpus, the same items in HEB and Walmart are almost always priced 10-15% less.
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