Does Whole Foods Still Nourish?


Amazon acquired Whole Foods in 2017. Since then, the marketing for Prime has become a heavy presence in all locations. The rewards program the store offered in the north east that encouraged not only loyalty but also healthy eating habits has been replaced.

My most recent visit to one of the Whole Foods locations was just last week. When I used to rent in Fort Lauderdale on a month-to-month basis and had a parking space, I would often pick Trader Joe's as my grocer as I had access to a kitchen at the apartment. This time due to it being a last minute trip with an overnight hotel stay, I chose WH because each location usually offers a cafe space.

I picked a lemon water and some hot food from the bar, made a payment at the self-service kiosk and picked a table with a nice fresh bouquet. A few tables away from me, a disheveled homeless elderly woman wearing a winter coat and carrying multiple bags decided to take a seat at a table as well. She did not get a chance to make herself comfortable or take off her jacket and cool off as she was swiftly approached by a different woman who is employed. This specific employee was tasked with cleaning the tables but it was not the reason why she approached the homeless customer. Another employee, who looked more like a manager, quickly joined in. I could not hear their conversation, but within a minute or two, the customer was escorted back out into the mid-afternoon South Florida heat.

On my way out, I again saw the employee who was cleaning the tables. I decided to ask her for her side of the story so as not to assume. She was happy to chat, flashing the gold front teeth. She didn't introduce herself and I didn't see her name tag but she did tell me that she asked the customer to seat outside because of her body odor. Not really asked, told her to, with the manager there to reinforce. That made me think whether a runner coming in to purchase a refreshing drink smelling of sweat but dressed head to toe in Adidas or Nike, shoelaces or not, pants properly pulled up or not, would have been treated the same.

I didn't ask my question out loud. Instead I asked the employee whether she knows about the homeless shelter built by Amazon in Seattle. She didn't. She also didn't know who Jeff Bezos is, at which point I decided that she probably then would not be interested in reading the values or the mission of the company that she is working for so I ended the conversation and started heading out. She yelled after me to "Come here!" because she vaguely recalled that Jeff Bezos might be the owner of the company. In response, I did let her know that I wasn't going to give her any more of my time due to her rude tone without mentioning that I also thought her treatment of the homeless customer was cruel.

A search on LinkedIn pulls up 16 profiles of employees at the Fort Lauderdale location. As the website does not verify actual employment, this might or might not be accurate. I could not find the name of the employee I spoke with. Some profiles do not have photos, others do not look like who I interacted with, none have a relevant title. The closest profile is that of a cashier. It has a photo but the name is hidden. Access is also restricted, even when I am logged in but here is a screenshot of what comes up on my screen:


I hope that what I witnessed is not what is going to be the new trend at these formerly wonderful grocery shoppes that used to carry $0.50 pastas and welcome in guests to explore foods from all over the world as opposed to allowing this type of "culture" to grow.

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