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Natural Perspectives: Whole Foods keeps things fresh, local

October 13, 2010|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray
  • Buying organic grains in bulk saves on packaging and reduces waste.
Buying organic grains in bulk saves on packaging and reduces… (Lou Murray, HB Independent )

Whole Foods Market opened a new store in Huntington Beach on Wednesday. As you may know, Whole Foods promotes healthy eating principles that also include locally and sustainably grown organic produce and meats. Vic and I couldn't be happier.

The spiffy new store is in the Bella Terra mall near Staples. I took a tour of the store Monday prior to its grand opening and was duly impressed.

About half of the produce it sells will be organic, with much of it locally grown. For those of us who like to know where our food comes from, Whole Foods will display the location where the produce was grown, along with how many miles it traveled to get to the store. For years, Vic and I have been exhorting our readers to eat foods that are organic, in season and locally grown. Whole Foods will make it easier to do just that.

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I found the seafood counter in the store to be particularly interesting. It will offer 16 varieties of fish, plus shellfish. During the tour, a representative from Carlsbad Aquafarm was present to talk about the farmed shellfish. Located on the Agua Hedionda Lagoon, Carlsbad Aquafarm is California's only shellfish farm. It's been growing mussels, oysters and scallops since 1990 and is adding green abalone to its stock. It also grows red ogo seaweed.

Because our oceans are being fished out, sustainable fish and shellfish farms are a viable alternative to wild-caught seafood. The suspended aquaculture that is practiced by the folks at Carlsbad Aquafarm avoids the bycatch problem. That's where organisms other than what you want end up in the net or trawl. The bycatch is usually killed in the process of catching the desired fish or shellfish, which is a huge waste of wildlife. Vic and I are looking forward to trying some of these locally grown shellfish.

I also learned that many stores sell scallops that have been artificially plumped by the addition of a chemical called tri-polyphosphate. Those nice, big scallops cook down to tiny nubs, a very disappointing development. At Whole Foods, their scallops aren't treated with chemicals, so all you get are wholesome seafood. The people behind the counter will marinate your fish for you and even cook it for you free of charge. I'm told that they even throw in free vegetables with an order of cooked fish. That sounds like a good deal.

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