Several years ago when I first started changing the way my family eats, I went to the nearest Whole Foods on a Sunday afternoon. The prices, the crowds, and the rude, entitled behavior of some of the customers overwhelmed me. I’ve never gone back to that particular store until today. (The Living Social coupon got me back in there.)


I had a completely different experience today. The prices were still high on many items, but I’ve learned a lot more since my first visit about which products should be priced higher and which shouldn’t be. The store was busy but not overly crowded. And, this time, there were no customers behaving badly and treating store employees poorly.


Since I wasn’t overwhelmed, I took my time to look around, and I got a new view of the place. Here are several things I learned about Whole Foods this morning.


1. They carry local foods. Really, I didn’t know that. I thought they carried natural and organic food, but since they are a national chain, I didn’t realize there would be as many local products as there were.


2. They also carry local non-food products. I bought some bath salts from Green Pad Living, a local Philadelphia company that makes soaps, bath salts, candles and more.


3. Not all the produce in the store is organic. When it isn’t organic, it seems to be clearly marked “conventional.”


4. Whole Foods sells makeup.


5. In the bulk foods section, there are bulk spices.


6. Not all products are higher priced than the store I usually shop at. The Clif Mojo bars that I buy for my son are the same price and the brand of pita chips that I buy are actually 30 cents cheaper. (But there were many products that were priced significantly higher than what I usually spend.)


7. The prepared foods section at Whole Foods is huge, and there’s a section with tables and chairs where you can sit and eat. You can actually go to Whole Foods for dinner.


8. It probably won’t be several more years before I step foot back in there this time.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

8 things I didn't know about Whole Foods
Our food blogger steps into a Whole Foods for the first time in years and learns a few things she didn’t know.