When it rains, it pours.
Not only is Whole Foods losing ground to other major grocery chains with cheaper organic and socially conscious offerings, but Whole Foods has also been slammed twice (first by California authorities and then by New York authorities) for overcharging its customers.
The CEOs of Whole Foods have openly admitted that some of their stores overcharged their customers in New York City and California for certain items. So to help you avoid spending your “Whole Paycheck,” here are seven of the most outrageously expensive Whole Foods products to be wary of next time you’re strolling their aisles.
1. Chicken Tenders
You may be thinking, “Come on, good ol’ chicken tenders are neither exotic nor fancy! How can they be that expensive at Whole Foods?” And at $9.99 per pound of chicken tenders, this Whole Food product may seem harmless.
However, an investigation of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) in New York City found that customers were overcharged by $4.13, on average. From its sample, one package of chicken tenders was overpriced by $4.85. Now that’s some expensive “air!”
2. Air Plants
Air can be very expensive indeed at Whole Foods. Take for example, these air plants that cost $69.99 each at their store in Atlanta, Georgia. The main selling point of these southeast succulents is that they are grown locally. However, you could find similar local plants at a nearby Pike Nursery for just a few dollars.
3. Morel Mushrooms
Let’s talk about the Cadillac of mushrooms. Morel mushrooms command a premium because they are hard to cultivate (only grow on decaying organic material, mostly in forests after a fire), to pick (some states require a permit to pick morel mushrooms in national forests), and to distribute (very perishable).
There are premiums and there is the Whole Foods premium. Depending on type of morel mushroom, availability, location, and quality, you could expect to pay between $249.99 per pound and $421.99 per pound of morel mushrooms at Whole Foods! For example, this cook found morel mushrooms at $320 per pound at Whole Foods Del Mar in San Diego.
4. Emu Eggs
If you think that the most expensive type of egg that you can you find at Whole Foods is the one laid by a free-range chicken that has access to a pasture environment, eats organic feed, receives a diet supplement with omega-3 essential fatty acids, and is raised with roosters… then you haven’t heard of emu eggs.
At $65 for the highest quality crop, saffron can demand a higher price than that for gold. Some Iranian saffron producers report prices of $2,000 per kilo (roughly 2.2 pounds).
At some Whole Foods stores, you can find this expensive spice at $3,196 per pound. This means that $7.99 would get you only 0.0025 pounds of saffron!
6. Anything With Kale
People often taunt Whole Foods about its ridiculous products. The most cited example is anything that is born out of the kale craze. While fresh kale has an average retail price of $2.81 per pound, anything kale-ified at Whole Foods gets a hefty premium.
Here are some examples of Kale-steins that are 100% real:
- Chicken lemon kale sausage at $6.59 per pound;
- California ornamental kale at $5.99 per bunch; and
- Kaleamole at $7.99 per pound.
7. Asparagus Water
A cartoon about a probiotic asparagus at $17.99 per bunch may have been too prophetic. In a true case of life imitating art, a Whole Foods store in California recently came up with “asparagus water” (three stalks of asparagus in a bottle of water) and decided to charge $5.99 per 16 fl. oz. bottle.
People on social media were quick to call out Whole Foods about this outrageous idea, and a spokesperson explained that the product was made incorrectly and has since been pulled from shelves.
Now to be fair: certain foods are actually cheaper at Whole Foods. Just make sure you’re not washing them down with asparagus water.
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