BEST NATURAL FOODS GROCERY - 2006
Whole Foods Market
3060 Excelsior Blvd.
Minneapolis, MN 55416
Big and broad, Whole Foods covers the whole gamut: organic produce; artisan cheese; wild and farm-raised fish; grass-fed, free-range, and organic meat; frozen vegan entrees; gluten-free baked goods; recycled paper towels and vitamins; cosmetics; yoga CDs; herbal sleep aids; and baby toys. With 183 stores throughout the U.S. and the U.K., Whole Foods is the largest grocery chain in the "whole" world of organics and affiliated concepts. A sure (if pricey) thing when it comes to sustainably grown and processed foods, Whole Foods has redefined the "health food" domain. Here you'll find small-batch cultured Irish butter; dry-aged organic, free-range steak; Gouda three years old; and hand-kneaded loaves of raisin whole wheat sour dough, along with packaged and bulk organics. Quite literally, they have it all, from soup to nuts. The olive and salad bar alongside the hot-food deli rivals any takeout in town. Try the fried chicken, "health salad" (a tangy slaw in rice vinaigrette), Thai rice noodles, charred eggplant, sesame salmon, orange-glazed ruby beets—finally, your carnivore brother and his vegan date and your gluten-free sister and her lactose-intolerant kids can all sit down together, family style. The cheese department's range of cow, sheep, and goat selections is among the best in town. Though it lacks the homespun sense of our beloved co-ops (and packs even less organic produce than some conventional competitors), Whole Foods gets high marks for service, selection, convenience, and style.