The Scathing Reasons Why Everyone Hates Shopping at Whole Foods

Everybody loves to hate Whole Foods. The most common complaint usually involves the store’s sky-high prices on everything from frozen pizza to organic veggies. But obnoxious customers and harried employees also land high on the list of the worst things about Whole Foods.

Read on to discover the reasons why people hate buying groceries at Whole Foods.

1. You can’t walk into Whole Foods without hearing somebody joke about ‘Whole Paycheck’

whole foods customer with bag

Whole Foods is famously expensive. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Wherever you live, we guarantee that you can’t stop at your local Whole Foods without hearing somebody joke that Whole Foods should really be called “Whole Paycheck.” It wouldn’t be that bad if we all hadn’t heard the same joke over and over. (We also wouldn’t mind it if the people complaining about “Whole Paycheck” weren’t still shopping at Whole Foods.) But to most of us, the moniker stopped being funny about a decade ago. We feel bad for the Whole Foods cashiers who probably hear it all day, every day. 

2. Everything you want to buy is way too expensive

whole foods produce

Many items cost more at Whole Foods than at other stores. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The real reason you can’t visit a Whole Foods without hearing someone call the place “Whole Paycheck” is because the chain’s prices are legitimately very expensive. Whatever you want to buy, you can probably find a cheaper version elsewhere. Fresh vegetables, frozen dinners, breakfast cereals, fresh bread, meat, and all your other essentials cost less at other stores. Whole Foods prices might drop thanks to Amazon’s deal to buy the grocery chain. However, that would probably take a long time to happen. 

3. Whole Foods makes it difficult to use coupons

Woman In Grocery Aisle Of Supermarket

Some Whole Foods stores make it difficult to use coupons. | iStock.com/Cathy Yeulet

Coupons can help you save some serious money at the grocery store. But that only works if your grocery store of choice lets you use them. Some bloggers report that their local Whole Foods stores make it tough to use coupons by requiring cashiers to get a manager’s approval. Not only do you have to wait for a manager to arrive, but you also have to endure the embarrassing stares of everybody stuck in line behind you.

4. The people who shop at Whole Foods are the worst

woman holding a bag of fruit

The store attracts all kinds of strange shoppers. | iStock.com/Choreograph

Many people hate shopping at Walmart because of the people who frequent the store. Whole Foods presents the same problem, even if the store attracts a very different kind of customer. Entitled shoppers in Patagonia and Lululemon push their carts around the store without watching out for other people’s toes. Parents who should have hired a babysitter refuse to intervene as their children run wild up and down the aisles. Incredulous shoppers who seem to have wandered in by mistake can’t stop talking about the prices.

5. Shoppers stick their hands in the bulk bins all the time

scooping lentils from a bulk container

The bulk bins aren’t exactly sanitary. | David Silverman/Getty Images

Buying nuts, grains, dried fruits, and even tea in bulk can save you lots of cash. But some people hate shopping at Whole Foods because they’ve seen too many people stick their hands straight in the bins. Grocery stores are full of germs and bacteria, so it’s mildly horrifying to see a grown person contaminate everybody else’s supply of dry goods by sampling (i.e., stealing) some food on their way through the aisle.

6. You can’t get out of the store without a lecture

Young man using cellphone in a grocery store

Somebody will try to talk your ear off about their diet. | iStock.com/Koji_Ishii

Most of us go to the grocery store to buy food, not to learn about the latest fad diet. But many people find it difficult to get in and out of a Whole Foods store without having to listen to unsolicited diet advice from a fellow shopper. This shopper may go on and on about the benefits of a vegan diet or share their take on the best protein sources when you’re eating paleo (Bonus points if they adopt a judgmental tone about your skin, your health, or your child’s energy levels). Just nod, smile, and try to get away as quickly as you can.

7. The store is impossible to navigate

whole foods

Whole Foods’ stores have annoying layouts. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

No matter how good you are at navigating a shopping cart around a “normal” grocery store, you can’t help but find yourself in a traffic jam at Whole Foods. Maybe the aisles are too narrow. (It definitely seems difficult for two carts to pass one another in some parts of the store.) Or perhaps the store’s layout is poorly designed. It can take forever to get from the produce section to the dairy section or to cross the store to check out the bakery. Even worse? You often feel like you’re in somebody’s way.

8. You’ll get stuck in a traffic jam in the parking lot, too

whole foods

The parking lot fosters a specific breed of chaos. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The only traffic jams worse than the ones in the store are those in the parking lot. The same people who can’t seem to efficiently navigate a cart around the produce section have an even harder time getting their hybrids through the maze of traffic. Don’t even get us started on the people who cram a giant SUV into a parking spot clearly meant for a Prius and then create a traffic jam when they need 10 minutes to back out of the spot. 

9. Buying meat or fish can take forever

Shopkeeper serving a customer in a grocery store

Waiting for your turn at the meat counter can take forever. | iStock.com/Minerva Studio

Even if you know exactly what you want, heading to the meat or seafood counters is never a quick errand. You’ll almost always encounter a line. But the typical Whole Foods shopper isn’t content to quickly ask for what they need and then get out of your way. Instead, you’ll probably find yourself stuck behind multiple shoppers who have to ask tons of questions about where a piece of meat is from, how it was slaughtered, and how long it’s been in the case. 

10. Whole Foods wants you to buy everything organic

shopping woman buying fruit

The store makes you think you need to buy everything organic. | iStock.com/LuckyBusiness

Everything you put in your grocery cart doesn’t need to be organic, but Whole Foods won’t tell you that. Instead, the chain does its best to make shoppers think that everything from turkey to toilet paper needs to be organic. But for many foods, it’s actually a waste of your money to buy organic. Something that’s marked “organic” isn’t necessarily better for you or for the environment. But at Whole Foods, products marked “organic,” “healthy,” and “natural” reign supreme, science be damned.

11. Marketing for ‘healthy’ and ‘natural’ products is deceptive

Man shopping in supermarket

Stores like Whole Foods aren’t exactly honest with their marketing. | iStock.com/Monkeybusinessimages

Whole Foods is a mecca of organic, natural, and healthy groceries. But as Consumer Reports explains, buying products labeled “natural” and “healthy” doesn’t guarantee that you’re getting the healthiest groceries. To label a product “healthy,” food manufacturers have to ensure that it meets certain Food and Drug Administration nutrition standards. Those standards regulate the amount of saturated fat and sodium a food can contain, but they say nothing about the amount of sugar. Plus, the word “natural” isn’t regulated at all. In short, neither term guarantees anything about the healthfulness of a food.

12. You sometimes feel like the Whole Foods employees are following you

Asian woman smiling, with shopping cart

Sometimes, store employees get too eager to help. | iStock.com/Beer5020

When they aren’t chained to a register, Whole Foods employees often want to be super helpful to shoppers wandering the store. That sometimes backfires. Even if you just ask a simple question — like, “where’s the milk?” — you risk an employee following you around the store to share everything he knows about milk, milk alternatives, why glass milk bottles are better than cardboard cartons, and optimal refrigeration temperatures for different kinds of milk. This employee means well, but all you did was ask the nearest employee where the store keeps the last item on your list!

13. It’s owned by Amazon

whole foods

Amazon recently acquired Whole Foods. | Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

Many people love Amazon, but others hate it. For those in the latter camp, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is another reason to avoid the store. Consumer Reports posits that consumers could benefit “from the powerhouse combination of Amazon and Whole Foods.” Amazon’s ownership of Whole Foods could give you a better value for your grocery shopping dollars. The acquisition could also make healthy, organic groceries easier to buy as Whole Foods products enter the AmazonFresh lineup. But if you don’t want to support Amazon, you’ll have to steer clear of Whole Foods.

14. The chain seems to have embraced pseudoscience

Woman grocery shopping in a supermarket

The company doesn’t exactly stick up for science. | iStock.com/Minerva Studio

Want to eat a healthy diet? Then you want to rely on science, not pseudoscience, to help make your nutritional decisions. Whole Foods seems to disagree. Forbes notes that the chain sells homeopathic medicines that make unproven health claims. At the same time, the store won’t sell aspirin or ibuprofen because they aren’t “natural.” The company has also adopted what amounts to an anti-GMO policy “that ignores the science of GMOs.” According to The Daily Beast, the labeling policy is “designed to profit off of fear, not protect you with science.” In short, Whole Foods doesn’t try to uphold scientifically proven nutritional and medical advice. Instead, it just panders to its GOOP-reading clientele.

15. Whole Foods represents the failure of ‘conscious capitalism’

Mother Paying For Family Shopping At Checkout

Whole Foods doesn’t exactly live up to its promises. | iStock.com/Bowdenimages

This sounds like a major #firstworldproblem. And it is, of course. But certain demographics of Americans only want to buy from corporations whose policies they support. Whole Foods is an openly capitalist corporation — and nothing seems to annoy its most liberal critics more. Slate argues that Whole Foods’ sale to Amazon is “a dramatic denouement for a company that is deeply rooted in the hippie counterculture of the 1960s and ’70s.” The company’s claims of “conscious capitalism” were already debated by its critics. And the company seems even less likely to live up to its ideals now that Amazon has acquired it.

16. The company has opposed unionization

lady shopping with a full filled cart

The company hasn’t been great to its employees, and that likely won’t change. | iStock.com/Freer Law

Whole Foods’ corporate leadership has never hidden its disdain for labor unions. That’s resulted in the company getting away with job cuts and other moves that a union would have tried to block. And the company’s culture isn’t likely to get any better under Amazon. As Slate notes, “While deeply objectionable, Whole Foods’ efforts to discourage unionization seem timid in comparison to Amazon’s proud endorsement of ‘unreasonably high expectations‘ with uncompensated overtime, combative meetings, and encouraging employees to anonymously report each other’s mistakes to management.”

Read More: Why Everyone Hates Buying Groceries at Walmart