Some of you may remember our last dust-up with Whole Foods over the sudden and unannounced removal of bulk spices from our local store. (They've since posted a sign apologizing "for any inconvenience.")
Well, yesterday as I was cruising the bulk section for the wild rice I needed for my "food appreciation" classes (see post below), I found there was no wild rice to be had. Since I've been buying my wild rice in bulk from this store for several years, I had a pretty good idea where it was supposed to be. There wasn't even an empty bin to indicate wild rice had ever been there.
When I inquired at the customer service desk where the wild rice had gone, two members of the "grocery team" showed up, shrugged their shoulders and said they couldn't say, because the "buyer" for the bulk department was out and wouldn't be back until this morning.
This morning, when I returned to the store to purchase more pumpkins, I found the bulk "buyer" loading a bin with yogurt-covered pretzels. We like the yogurt-covered pretzels, so I was happy to see she was on top of that. But where, I asked, had the wild rice gone?
"We don't sell wild rice in this section," she said.
"I've been buying it here for years," I replied.
"Well," she answered, "since I started working here a month-and-a-half ago, we haven't had it. But we do have it in boxes."
She started to lead me to the aisle where the packaged wild rice is on display, but I waved her off. No way am I paying those prices, nor do I need the packaging.
But I did stop by the packaged rice aisle just to see if my suspicion was accurate, that the price of packaged wild rice is about double the cost of the bulk variety. What I found was the Lundberg brand on display costing $4.68 for an 8-ounce package, or 58.6 cents per ounce. The day before, I had purchased my wild rice in bulk at the Yes! Natural Foods store for $7.50 a pound, or a good deal less than half what Whole Foods is charging for the packaged variety.
Wild rice, whole wheat couscous, Israeli couscous--all these favorite items of mine have been eliminated without notice from the bulk section at Whole Foods. When the bulk spice selection was removed, someone describing himself as "an insider" at Whole Foods commented here that we should "get over it" and find what we need elsewhere.
Whole Foods seems determined to have us shop elsewhere...