Last week I had the opportunity to join some of my fellow writers from Family Friendly Cincinnati for a tour of Whole Foods in Rookwood Commons.  I know this is going to sound crazy, but I was super excited about this tour!  Not only would I get to hang out with some very fun folks, but I would get to learn a little more about one of my favorite grocery stores.  When it comes to weekly grocery shopping, I’m a little unpredictable…I like to shop around sometimes.  I have a great local grocery store, but sometimes I like to step outside the box and visit other cool stores, like Whole Foods.  I’ve been shopping at WF since Sam was 11 months old.  This was the time that he was diagnosed with allergies to dairy, egg & peanut.  When he was first diagnosed I felt so overwhelmed & stressed out about it.  At the time, my local grocery store did not have as much to offer in terms of allergy-friendly foods.  They’ve since expanded their health foods section, and have a much better selection.  But back then there just wasn’t alot to choose from there.  I heard about Whole Foods from another Mama of a child with allergies and decided to check it out.
Imagine my delight when I first visited WF and discovered aisle upon aisle of healthy foods with countless options for people with allergies.  I found a HUGE selection of diary-free yogurts, cheeses, milks, and more.  I was able to purchase foods that the other kids liked to eat so that he wouldn’t feel left out.  I didn’t want him to have to eat something else while we all ate pizza, and I didn’t want to make the whole family go dairy free, so I had to figure out some sort of solution.  Enter shredded rice cheese, which I used to make Sam his own little pizzas.  They also had box mixes for various allergen-free desserts, which was a huge help when we had parties to attend.  It was no fun telling a toddler he couldn’t have cake at a birthday party.  So now at least I had a backup plan!
Today Sam’s allergies are much better, he’s only allergic to peanut, but I still love to shop at Whole Foods.  They have so many natural foods you might not find at other stores, a huge selection of organic produce and local produce, a cheese section that will make you drool, a large selection of Gluten-Free foods, an entire wall of bulk foods, and much much much more!  The bulk foods section is our family’s favorite thing about WF.  The kids love searching the bins for special treats, and I can always find random rices, grains & beans that are hard to find.  Another thing I love about WF is their staff.  Our tourguide last week, a gentleman named Nick was awesome.  His tour was interesting and very informative, and I even tried some new foods!  All of the staff at WF is great though, whenever I have a question they are quick to answer it, or if they don’t know the answer they find someone who does.  I’m always amazed at how knowlegable the staff is about all of the different foods they stock.  I had so many questions when Sam was first diagnosed, and it was the staff at WF who helped me figure out some new foods to make for him.  The only complaint I have about Whole Foods is that there isn’t one closer to my home (time for a NKY store!).  I have heard complaints that WF is too expensive, and to that I say, Yes, some items were pricey, but I beleive you are getting what you pay for – good quality food.  And not everything was expensive, many of the items they sell are quite reasonably priced!
If you’d like to know more about Whole Foods and the awesome products they sell check out their website, or pop into a store and talk to someone!  They love to share the great things that are going on at their store.  And if you are hungry after you shop, there’s a dining area in the store, so you can grab a bite to eat at their deli, salad bar, pizza counter, or even the bakery and then sit down and rest & eat before heading home!  After our tour we purchased some wine and snacks and lingered at the store catching up with old friends.  Grocery shopping + Ladies Night Out = Multi-tasking.
Whole Foods also offers many activities, events, tours and programs for children.  Check out their website for all the details!

A Tour of Whole Foods Cincinnati ::

This pretty much sums up the store:
Whole Foods Committment
Our tour guide…Nick
Whole Foods Tour
A whole wall of tasty goodness, the Bulk Foods section:
Whole Foods Bulk Foods
Whole Foods gets seafood shipments 5 days a week, and when the fish arrives at the store it has only been out of the water for 4 or 5 days.
Whole Foods Seafood
Ready to cook seafood – yum!
Whole Foods Ready to Cook Seafood
For the cheese lovers…
Whole Foods Cheese
Pizza deal on Tuesdays!  I see pizza in our near future!
Whole Foods Pizza
The Whole Foods salad bar is out of this world!
Whole Foods Salad Bar
Whole Foods Desserts
Just in case you are ever looking for a “safe” treat to take to your child’s school, WF sells these “School Safe” desserts.

Whole Foods School Safe Treats

Since it was a Ladies Night Out we shared a few drinks after the tour, in the cafe.  I love the selection of craft beers at Whole Foods!

Whole Foods Beer

In the spirit of full disclosure I will admit that I was given lots of tasty foods to sample while on the tour, and even a few treats to take home, but I was not coerced into writing this post, nor was I even asked to write about the store.  I just get really excited about cool grocery stores and wanted to share some of my experiences from the tour.