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13 Things Whole Foods Employees Want You to Know

Learn how to spot organic fruit, save big on nuts and seeds, and more insider Whole Foods secrets that every shopper should know.

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CHICAGO, IL - CIRCA APRIL, 2016: inside of Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods Market Inc. is an American supermarket chain.

You can save money on nuts by loading up at the salad bar instead of the bulk station

The Whole Foods’ salad bar features nuts like cashews, almonds, and walnuts. You can easily save money by loading up an empty salad tray with your favorite nuts instead of buying in bulk. Check out these things Trader Joe’s employees want you to know.

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Image of showcase with dried fruits and nuts in container in the store.
Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock

The bulk oats, grains, and beans are worth it

In comparison to the bulk nut section, the oats, grains, and beans are cheaper in bulk. It’s also great that they have a longer shelf life too, saving you money in the long run.

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WEST WINDSOR, NJ -10 NOVEMBER 2015- Cans of pumpkin puree lined up on the shelf from 365, the low cost brand of Whole Foods Market.

The Whole Foods 365 and 365 Organic brands are as good a deal as you hoped

Shopping the Whole Foods 365 brands are the best ways to keep your bill similar to an average grocery store.

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LONDON - APRIL 5, 2018: Freshly Baker artisanal bread products on sale at Whole Foods Market in Piccadilly Circus, Westminster, London, UK.

The food at the hot bar and bakery isn’t made in-house

According to a former bakery worker, Susan,* who worked at a Pennsylvania store location, almost everything is brought in from the outside in bags for the bakery and hot bar. Only a few of the breads are made from scratch, as well as the icing for cakes. The cakes themselves, however, come from mixes. Most of the breads come in frozen, as do all of the pastries and cookies before being baked off, according to this employee.

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woman taking a sample of street food from a market stall
paul rushton/Shutterstock

You can try anything before you buy it

This perk seems to vary by store. Susan says her store encouraged employees to let people try things before buying them—even if that meant giving them an entire $30 bottle of olive oil to take home. Another employee, John,* who worked at a Washington Whole Foods store, says sampling was restricted before his store eventually did away with the perk.

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Young woman hands scaning / entering discount / sale on a receipt, touchscreen cash register, market / shop
Simon Kadula/Shutterstock

You can also return (almost) anything

You can return almost anything at Whole Foods—but you must do so within 30 days of your purchase, and you need to have the receipt. These products can be opened or unopened.

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Whole Foods natural organic retail store butcher meat ordering counter, Lynnfield Massachusetts USA, May 11, 2018

Butchers can debone and season fish for you

Buy your fish and season it too. John says management at his Whole Foods discouraged this service because it is too time-consuming for the busy department. Instead, they simply gave customers the product as-is with seasoning in a bag. Here are the healthiest foods you can buy in the supermarket.

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Close up view of vegetable shelf in supermarket

Likewise, one New York City location offers a fruit cutting service

The Bryant Park Whole Foods location in New York is the only location that currently offers this service. Similar to a butcher, customers can have their fruits and veggies sliced, diced, or chopped for an extra dollar.

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Organically grown apples are shown on display at Whole Foods Market in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, . The federal government today took the first steps toward regulating organic foods, but sidestepped the most controversial issues such as use of irradiation and crops that have been genetically altered
Mark J. Terrill/Shutterstock

The stickers indicate if a fruit is organic

You can double check that your fruit is organic by the sticker. If a produce PLU has a nine at the front, it’s organic. Check out the secrets Costco employees won’t tell you.

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NEW YORK CITY: March 2, 2018: Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has cut prices on avocados at Whole Foods. Whole Foods stores have cut prices nationally on more than a dozen popular items, including organic eggs,

The best day for sales is Wednesday

Whole Foods weekly sales start and end on Wednesday—that means double the sales once a week. The stores also have specific deals on each day of the week which vary by location, so it’s recommended to shop per-sale instead of in one large swoop.

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CHICAGO, IL - CIRCA MARCH, 2016: inside of Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods Market Inc. is an American supermarket chain.

And any leftover hot food is donated at the end of the day

Whole Foods donates unsold food to local soup kitchens and food banks due to a collaboration with Food Donation Connection. In the first half of 2016, 36 Whole Foods stores in the Southeast United States donated more than 1,400,000 pounds of food.

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A customer makes her selections at the seafood section of the new Whole Foods market, in Austin, Texas. The store's opening this spring coincided with the chain's 25th anniversary and symbolizes how far the natural and organic grocer has come. Since CEO John Mackey founded the chain in 1980, Whole Foods has grown to 169 stores and dozens more are in development
HARRY CABLUCK/Shutterstock

Employee perks include discounts based on your health

All employees get a 20 percent standard discount. But that percentage could reach 30 percent if workers meet certain criteria for BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking status. In John’s opinion, the BMI requirements are “extreme.”

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CHICAGO, IL - CIRCA MARCH, 2016: inside of Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods Market Inc. is an American supermarket chain.

They celebrate food holidays with discounts and sales

In 2017, the store introduced sales celebrating various food holidays such as National Cheese Lovers Day and National Green Juice Day. Those deals and discounts vary by region. Next, check out the things your grocer won’t tell you.

*These employees wished to remain anonymous.

[Sources: wholefoodsmarket.com, reddit.com]

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is a former staff writer at Reader’s Digest. There’s a 90% chance Emily is drinking tea right now, but when she’s not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts and liking one too many astrology memes.