Friday, February 19, 2010

Unhappy Tasters

Though I don't like going there, you won't find me slagging on Wal-Mart. What they manage to accomplish every day is nothing short of a miracle. But that's not the only reason why this is so satisfying:
Kummer buys two batches of nearly identical groceries at Wal-Mart and Whole Foods. He has them prepared in a restaurant kitchen and invites taste testers to make a blind side-by-side comparison. The Whole Food grocery set cost $50 more, $20 of which is spent on top of the line chicken breasts (Wal-Mart didn't really offer equivalently high-end meat.)

The taste testers preferred the Wal-Mart veggies overwhelmingly, with complaints about the meat and dairy. "The tasters were surprised," he writes, "when the results were unblinded at the end of the meal and they learned that in a number of instances they had adamantly preferred Walmart produce. And they weren’t entirely happy."

No, it's not enough that Wal-Mart can deliver food that's just as good, and in some cases, better, than you can get at a high-end place like Whole Foods. When snooty food tasters find out they prefer they cheaper stuff, do they slap their foreheads in hapless amusement? Do they smile and shrug their shoulders and maybe let out a little laugh at their own folly? Do they come away from the experience, a little wiser about the nature of food and how it gets to their table? No. They get angry.

Geez Louise.

Don't get me wrong. I've been to Whole Foods exactly once and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It'd be great if we could get one around here. But as much as I dislike going to Wal-Mart, I find myself going there time and time again because they have what I need at a good price. It's the free-market system at its finest.

Curse those people at Wal-Mart.


  1. Coincidently, I have to go to Whole Foods today to pick up some appenzeller cheese for a home made fondue we're making this weekend. I go maybe twice year and otherwise shun the place.

    Out here, Trader Joes is a nice compromise between overpriced markets like Whole Foods and the value oriented markets like Wal-Mart.

  2. I like Whole Foods for their cheese and meat selection. I always avoid their vegetables (too expensive for the quality) and bread (full of chemicals). I can see how Walmart would outshine them in those categories.