Yesterday, Whole Foods opened on the site of the former Barkers department store on Kensington High Street. Floor space is estimated to be larger than that of Wembley, making this the UK’s largest supermarket. I stopped by with a friend after work…

  • Gosh, it’s crowded.
  • I need a basket. This basket is awfully big. I think my basket broke!…no, hang on, the handle popped up…and it has wheels! It’s a wheelie basket!
  • I see raspberries and strawberries. Not cheap but the strawberries smell sooooo good and I haven’t had any good ones yet this year. Into my basket they go.

Strawberries

  • Oooh, bread. Oooh, biscuits. Oh no, VERY expensive biscuits. I’m not paying £6 for a tiny bit of shortbread. £1.50 for a muffin? Are they having a laugh? Oh, but £5 for a family sized tiramisu. Not bad, not bad. Oh, that fancy-looking tart could feed 8 people and it’s only £8. Not bad also. But no tarts for me today.
  • Bread with cheese. Yummy.
  • Samples! Garlic scapes – hoooooooo, they’re strong. Smoked garlic…mmm, tasty and creamy.
  • Heirloom tomatoes! I’ve never seen them in London before (nor in Vancouver). But at £8 a kilo….nah, I’ll buy them later…for a special occasion.
  • Aren’t the lettuces pretty? Gosh, everything looks very pretty. Why is everything so pretty – isn’t organic supposed to be less pretty? And it’s laid out so perfectly…I wonder how many people it takes to make it look like that.
  • There are so many people and I think I just ran over that girl’s foot with my basket.
  • Nut butters! They have machines that crush the nuts right in front of you! Sample time! Macadamia nut butter, please. It’s oily. And uh…not my thing. Ugh, now I’m thirsty.
  • Chili peanuts into my basket.
  • Wa-hey! Samples of POM! Mac nut flavour is replaced by sweet pomegranate juice.
  • Meat pies! Oooh, the individual sized ones are so cute…..and so not cheap! £4 each?! For £6, I can get a large family-sized pie at my farmers’ market.
  • Mmm…I smell grilling. Rib-eye steak samples! Seriously?! Mmm…steak! Slightly embarrassed as some nice lady spoke up for me – I was waiting patiently while voracious wolf-people pushed in front of us and grabbed the samples.
  • I want more steak. Hmm…what’s this? Rump steak is only £3.99 a kilo…that’s cheap! There’s a giant steak in the window. What?! Two people! You’re kidding me – that’ll feed an army. Oh, no, three people. Whatever, it’s mine. 900g of rump steak!

Rump Steak

  • More samples! Smoked salmon!
  • They sell Two-Bite Brownies! Now I don’t need to stuff my face everytime I go back to Vancouver.
  • Ostrich eggs! Hee hee!
  • Still crowded.
  • Wow, it’s like a wall of chocolate bars! Nice selection too…large range of Valrhona bars. They’re the same price as in Waitrose.
  • Organic haircare?! No thanks.
  • What’s that lady doing with her shopping trolley? Oh, it’s an escalator for trolleys! You push it in, push a button, and then it follows you as you go up the regular escalator! Isn’t technology wonderful?!
  • Oh no, I’ve lost my friend. Why is there no mobile signal in here? I have to stand near the entrance to call her. She’s by the cheeses.
  • Back to the breads. Bread bread bread. A sourdough loaf, please. Oooh, it’s still hot!

Sourdough

  • Over to the cheeses. OK, now we’re not lost anymore.
  • Ready-made foods…salads, hot foods….nah…I don’t like the look of those steam trays…and I’m not paying that much for salad.
  • Did I mention it was crowded?
  • A small tub of olives is £5?! You know how many I could get at my local Middle Eastern shop for that price?
  • Time to pay…is that the queue?! Lessee…rump steak, 2 packs of strawberries, chili peanuts, sourdough loaf and a can of red curry sauce….£12. Oof. £12 in my local Middle Eastern shop gets me bags and bags of produce.

Final Thoughts. I can’t afford to do my everyday shopping here; I’d go broke, kind of like if I did my daily shop at Marks and Spencers or Waitrose. Produce is significantly more expensive than at my local farmers’ market: a bunch of carrots were approximately £2.50 and the same bunch, larger too, costs £1.50 in Acton. Rump steak was cheap but I think it was on sale. The peanuts are the usual chili peanut things but the strawberries were some of the best I’ve ever eaten. The bread was very good and I guess I could purchase that on my way home for weekday dinners. And they have introduced a whole range of products from North America that were never available here…or were but for a very high price previously. While there are items to be found at a good price, I’ll be treating Whole Foods only as a supermarket for a treat and sticking to and supporting my local shops and farmers’ market.