Whole Foods, New York

In the past year or so, we have become quite involved with Whole Foods, an American natural, organic supermarket chain who now have 14 outlets in the south of England and one in Glasgow. On a recent visit to New York, Richard and Margaret Wellock were invited to have a look around their new store in Brooklyn.

The visit was amazing! The whole store of about 55,000 square feet is constructed from reclaimed bricks, with all the woodwork and display bins made from reclaimed wood from the Coney Island boardwalk which was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

On entering the store Margaret and I were met by Jinah Kim, one of the passionate team leaders. We were shown wonderful displays of fruit, vegetables, meat and fish – so fresh they seemed alive!

We had coffee that was actually roasted in the store before we happened upon an excellent cheese counter selection and the guy looking after it insisted we try American cheeses – which really were superb. There’s an olive bar that you can help yourself from which just takes your breath away.

Whole Foods has a great reputation for hot foods and the choice is endless, along with a wonderful salad bar which was being continually refreshed – an ideal solution for busy people.

But the crowning glory of the tour was up on the roof, which is covered by a magnificent greenhouse! Here we were met by Nicola, another wonderfully focused member of staff. She showed us all the herbs, lettuces, tomatoes and some specialist vegetable types grown for the store.

Amazingly, no soil is used. The plants are grown in a type of wool to which nutrients are added, everything is computer controlled – temperature, watering and feeding – an amazing place to be allowed into. Obviously all the produce is sent straight down into the store as it’s required, cutting out the need for any delivery time. Any surplus is taken to another store in the city – so no waste.

All in all it was a wonderful experience for us both and I would like to sum up by saying if Whole Foods are expanding in the UK, the other large supermarkets will really have to up their game. The formula really does work, on our travels in America everyone we spoke to only had good things to say about Whole Foods. I must also mention their team leader, Sam Fishman who invited us to the store – a quiet, unassuming guy, totally passionate about his store and very focused. On behalf of myself and Margaret I would like to say a big thank you to Whole Foods.

September 2014