Is Whole Foods Really That Much More Expensive?

Every month, I dump a pretty big chunk of my paycheck into organic groceries at Whole Foods. I know shopping for organic groceries at Whole Foods is expensive, and that it adds up, but it got me thinking: Is buying grocery at Whole Foods really that more expensive than other grocery stores?

In the most unscientific survey of grocery prices ever conducted, I compared the cost of certain delectable items from my local Whole Foods to prices at Safeway, the standard regional grocery chain here in Northern California.

My hypothesis: Whole Foods is going to cost a lot more, and I’m going to have to face the music and rein in my spending if I ever want to retire—which I do!

And here are the results, in chart form. Here’s what I spend on organic produce at Whole Foods instead of regular produce at Safeway.

I think I would pay two more bucks for the organic stuff. Yay! Let’s compare the chicken.



*Cringe.* The difference is huge. However, this information had an inverse effect on me, because it didn’t make me want cheaper meat. Instead, it just creeps me out, and makes me worry about animals and chemicals and all sorts of awfulness. I’ll pay more for good meat. So, next up are a bunch of identical products:



Highway robbery, Whole Foods. I’m out! Or, am I?



Plus, a couple of organic options at Whole Foods is actually cheaper.



But this was an utter failure:



Conclusion: While it’s definitely more expensive, I’m happy to find out that the price discrepancy between organic and regular produce isn’t as extreme as I thought it would be, and since it’s important to me, this is a price I’m willing to pay. And a couple things—like wine and certain fresh foods—are even cheaper at Whole Foods! But when it’s time to stock up on tea and ice cream (AKA every day), I’ll be sure to do it at Safeway. Now let’s all go have one tortilla and four gallons of milk.


Eve O’Neill lives in California and really, really wants to visit New York. Email plane tickets here. Photo credit: Flickr/ilovemypit



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