Just before Christmas, Whole Foods opened the doors on their first Brooklyn store, situated near the Gowanus canal on Third St. and Third Ave in New York. The store is definitely unique—seeking to capitalize on a massive number of locally sourced items, a rooftop garden, and even a vinyl record shop. But like all other Whole Food’s stores, the products won’t yet feature labels on whether or not they contain genetically modified ingredients.
The supermarket is huge—a whopping 56,000 square feet—and features 20,000 square feet of greenhouse space on its roof. The greenhouse will be responsible for providing the produce department with fresh pesticide-free vegetables year-round, though they won’t be certified organic as the greenhouse uses hydroponics. Still, the hydroponic system will allow the glass greenhouse to use 20 times less water than conventional growing and won’t require any transportation costs or fossil fuels to move the goods to the store shelves.
In addition, the restaurant has about 16 beers on tap and a craft beer cooler section that would make Homer Simpson’s head spin. Alongside the greenhouse, there is a rooftop café, where you can sip your fancy local brew and nosh on a variety of menu items. There is also an in-house ramen chef, a juice bar, a coffee shop, and a pizza station with a wood-fired oven, according to the NY Daily News.
The store is decidedly ‘Brooklyn’, with a record shop where you can get your favorite vinyls, and even a place to get your bicycle repaired. There’s plenty of bike parking out front and an onsite knife-sharpening service too.
Whole Foods is capitalizing on local products and stickers designate these products’ origins, according to Gothamist. Though not everything on the shelves is from Brooklyn, a good deal of it is from within 100 miles.
While some of the products may indicate what’s inside, Whole Foods is still a long ways off from labeling the GMO content of all their foods. They announced last year that it would be 2018 before they were able to make that switch. It isn’t clear why it should take 5 years to make the transition, unless the natural foods giant wants to clear some GMOs off the shelves before the labels take hold.
While the new Whole Foods seems to offer a lot to those in Brooklyn, we would like to remind everyone of the importance of shopping locally. Buying locally-sourced items off the shelf at Whole Foods is nice, but nothing like buying local products from the people who make them. Farmer’s markets and small locally-owned businesses are still the best way to do this.