This Free Tour Will Make You So Much Better at Shopping at Whole Foods

A nutritionist from OnPoint Nutrition will show you the ins and outs of shopping healthily (and easily!) at Whole Foods.

Make shopping at Whole Foods easier with a tour. Photograph by Flickr/Mike Mozart

Shopping at Whole Foods can be a little overwhelming — there are just so many products to choose from, and you’re usually there with  half of Philadelphia’s population, so finding and deciding on an item can prove to be quite the feat.

As it turns out, there’s a monthly meet-up that might be the answer to all of your Whole Foods woes: OnPoint Nutrition, a local virtual weight loss and nutrition counseling company, hosts monthly private tours of Whole Foods. These tours are led by a registered dietician or nutritionist, and they focus on different aspects of healthy eating while giving you a TON of behind the scenes shopping tips and secrets. Oh, and I should mention that they’re totally FREE if you sign up. This month’s meet-up, led by OnPoint team member Kate Glutz focused on healthy holiday shopping.

The tours take place at Philly’s beautiful (and still kinda new) Center City Whole Foods (2101 Pennsylvania Avenue) as well as the Wynnewood Whole Foods (15 Wynnewood Road) out in the ‘burbs at 6:30 p.m. We decided to check out this month’s tour on Wednesday night, and boy, did we learn a lot.

The group met at the Customer Service area, where an OnPoint team member gave us goodie bags and some handouts, full of recipes and healthy eating tips.

Let’s talk about these goodie bags. First of all, you get a veggie-covered Whole Foods reusable tote (and who doesn’t need more of those?) filled with healthy basics — which will change depending on the focus of every tour — like whole wheat flour, organic pumpkin puree, nutmeg, and sparkling water. The bag also featured some helpful reading material like Whole Food’s guide to buying and cooking bulk foods. Check out the magnificent goodie bag for yourself, atop a stack of my favorite sparkling beverage, in the photo below.

Whole Foods gift bag from OnPoint Nutrition — Photo courtesy of Bailey King

After the gift bags were handed out and everyone was ready to roll, the tour commenced. We headed toward the produce section where Glutz pointed out some items to purchase for a healthy holiday. She recommended fresh cranberries, as opposed to canned, and she directed us to the veggie platters, which are great for holiday parties. She also directed our attention to the “Local” sign above some mushrooms — a good thing to lookout for if you want to shop locally-produced foods on your next Whole Foods trip.

Locally grown organic mushrooms at Whole Foods.

Next, on to the meat department, where Kate explained the numerical system on Whole Foods’ meat case. All of the fresh meat (beef, pork, and chicken) at Whole Foods are numbered from one to five, coordinating to their 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating — one being the worst and five-plus being the best, because those animals spent their entire lives on one farm. We also learned that you can ask the in-store fishmonger to trace where your fish came from — which is pretty cool if you ask us.

Whole Foods five-step meat rating.

There’s a similar labeling system for all eggs sold at Whole Foods. Each carton of eggs is labeled with one of four logos describing how the chickens lived, ranging from “cage-free plus,” which is the lowest quality of living to “mobile houses on pasture” which describes the eggs of chickens with the best quality of life.

Whole Foods animal welfare guide for laying hens.

The moral of this section of the tour was that there is SO much labeling at Whole Foods. Like, way more than you would ever notice unless it’s pointed out to you — and this doesn’t just hold true for meat and eggs. If you look on basically any tag (you know, where it says the product name and price), you’ll often find some additional information about the product. For example, it’s often labeled that an item is GMO-free or organic.

Another interesting tidbit that Kate shared — which we think might just be one of Whole Foods best-kept “secrets” — is their Meatless Monday special. On Mondays, you can fill (like, really pile it on) your plate full of all of the hot bar’s meatless goodies for and $8 flat-rate, instead of being price per pound. Steal!

Another pro tip that Kate shared: The bistro meals, which are located in the cold case that is home to a bunch of drinks and juices in the hot bar area (at the Center City location, at least), are often cheaper than buying the items separately from the hot bar — even though they’re the same items. Plus, I learned that you should totally download the Whole Foods app because they cater deals to your shopping habits after a while. (Fingers crossed for some discounted Kite Hill products in the future!)

Overall, the OnPoint Nutrition Whole Foods tour gave me a bunch of ways to shop Whole Foods smarter, cheaper, and better. It’s FREE, which kind of blows our mind, so we can’t think of a reason not to sign up for the next one. You’ll get a TON of helpful (and healthy!) shopping tips, a free swag bag, you get to enter a drawing for a $25 Whole Foods gift card, and you’ll walk away feeling more informed and confident about your future Whole Foods shopping excursions.

Keep an eye out for future Whole Foods tours here.

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