#1: Whole FoodsSafeway bought our local Dominicks chain several years ago. I like shopping there because the aisles are wide. Tthe produce and bakery are pleasantly displayed. They have improved their product selection. The prices are very competitive and cheap. There are always people around asking if you need help when you do actually need help. I was looking for Campbells brand pork and beans. A store manager happened to walk by and when I expressed disappointment that the store didn't carry that brand, he offered to order some for me. I thanked him but declined. The next month, Campbell's Pork and Beans were sitting on the shelf next to Van de Camps.
279 stores in 38 states and Washington, D.C.
We figured this natural-foods chain would make the list, but who knew it would hands-down top it? “It’s the Rolls Royce of healthy eating,” says Kate Geagan, a nutritionist in Park City, Utah, and one of our judges. Whole Foods has the whole package—from an extraordinary selection of fresh conventional and organic fruit and vegetables to delicious prepared foods with healthy ingredients and clear labeling. (Most other stores offer mystery meals that may very well be loaded with butter.) And Whole Foods puts a premium on products that are grown or produced locally (read: superfresh).
There’s also hard-to-find grass-fed meats, ready-to-cook organic and free-range chicken, and a well-stocked selection of just-caught seafood. The desserts are pretty good for you: Every item in the bakery is free of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, and trans fats. Our judges also raved about Whole Foods’s snacks, singling out the store’s own dark chocolate, fresh-cut veggies, and nut and seed mixes. Alan Greene, MD, a Palo Alto, California–based pediatrician and one of our panelists sums it up best: “The store celebrates great, healthy food from start to finish.”
1,700-plus stores nationwide
Safeway is the traditional grocer you’re familiar with, but look closer and you’ll see a huge transformation going on. “They now have their own organic brands and a section of locally grown produce,” says judge Lisa Pawloski, PhD, chair of the department of global and community health at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Besides those organic brands—O Organics for packaged goods (the biggest organic brand in the country) and Eating Right for prepared foods—many of the chain’s redesigned stores have a greatly expanded produce section.
Safeway’s specialty items like organic spices and packaged nuts make it a regular stop for judge Dr. Greene. Bonus: Its online Food Flex program analyzes shoppers’ purchases based on metrics like recommended sodium consumption, and then suggests healthier choices. “They’re a major pioneer in this area,” says panelist Christine Palumbo, a Chicago-based nutritionist. “It’s like having your own registered dietitian.”
Trader Joe's and SuperTarget also made the list. If you're interested, here's the article. I had been feeling somewhat guilty about not being able to afford Whole Foods. But, after reading this, I don't feel guilty at all. I will probably still buy meat at Whole Foods, but Dominicks can have all the rest of my business and I'll know I'm getting what I consider to be good for me food.