Whole Foods’ samples lead to global lesson


As far as product samples go, Whole Foods Market rates high. We took a walking tour through the Omaha store during its “Sampling Saturday.”

The name doesn’t really fit what the store is about. As you sample the items, the employee will offer recipe suggestions or answer questions. They’re very good at their job, as we asked a lot of questions about how they prepared the sample, as well as their preferences for meal ideas, etc.


We sampled a buffalo chicken bleu cheese sausage. I don’t like bleu cheese, but this food was delicious. We ended up buying a package and combined it with pasta for a great dinner.


Another employee offered fried pickles as a sample. Who doesn’t like themselves some fried pickles? They were really good. She explained how she prepared them. She added some honey to a dish of mustard and created a tasty treat.


Additionally, there were samples for wine, beer and even dessert.


Because more than just samples are offered, the Omaha store is changing the name of the sample day to “Taste of What We’re all About.”

The store will even let customers try a product before they buy it. If you see something you are interested in but not sure about, an employee can put a “Try me” sticker on that item. You can take it home free and try it. The idea, of course, is that if you like it, you’ll be back to buy the product.


I’m pretty sure they won’t let you take a basket of “Try me” goodies home, though.

If you see something you’d like to sample at the store that isn’t part of the sample day, just ask. An employee can put something together for you to check out.

Food samples are a small part of the store’s operation, but they are indicative of the customer-focused attention they provide.

The store is moving toward a value-sharing model, such as helping identify great deals. Customers can access weekly sales for their area via the website (www.wholefoodmarket.com).

Whole Foods is more than a “health” food store. While the store offers a lot of organic products, it also offers items that may not be considered as healthy. That may sound weird, but every store does that.


Whole Foods may offer selections that others don’t. Last Thanksgiving, my daughter wanted a specific international food item not available at other stores. I was able to find it at Whole Foods.

The store chain focuses on providing humanely raised meat products. That may not mean much to some people, but others really want to know animals were not mistreated during their lives. The store uses a 5-step rating system that is actually managed by a third-party reviewer.


The company supports two worldwide foundations focused on improving health and poverty.

“Whole Kids foundation” offers salad bars or gardens to schools where they may not have access to fresh vegetables and fruits.


The “Whole Planet Foundation” is focused on addressing poverty issues. The foundation works primarily with women, as they have found they’re more inclined to reinvest the money to their families. The program has a 95 percent pay back ratio.

Another international program is “Blessing Baskets.” The store sells baskets made by people in other nations. Each basket has a story about the creator, and where they are from. As a basket is sold here, it provides a double benefit. The first is locally, as it can be a gift or used by the buyer. The second benefit is the basket maker is compensated fairly. This helps address poverty.


Toms – the shoe maker with a conscience – is involved with coffee. Toms Coffee pays back with a week’s worth of water for someone in need globally with each package purchase. Toms employs a double-reward system with its products. If you buy a pair of their shoes, the company donates a pair of shoes to a person in need. The founder of Toms was a contestant on the competition show “The Amazing Race.”


The chain is planning to start a travel program, where customers can place orders with a store and have it delivered to their hotel or pick it up. This, of course, applies to only cities home to a Whole Foods Market location. That can help travelers a lot.

The Omaha store is starting a new music program in September. Every third Thursday of the month, a musician will perform as part of “Thursday Night Music Hullabaloo.” The music will trend toward an acoustic sound. I plan to check it out.

If you’re interested, the Omaha store is going to have a “carnival” Sept. 6th. The carnival will feature “Truck Farm,” a truck that has a garden in its truck bed.

Each Whole Foods location is free to offer different attractions, so you may want to check its website or contact the store for more information.

Whole Foods, as we learned, is more than just “a healthy food store.” It is a fun place to check out and you may find something you like.

Disclaimer: Thank you to Whole Foods Market Omaha for hosting a blog event. Each blogger received a $50 gift card from the store. However, all opinions and views are ours.