I live on the north side of Chicago and shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Jewel for food and household supplies. In another time in Chicago, I used to be able to go to an assortment of natural foods stores, but for those of us in Chicago, for the most part, Whole Foods ate up all their natural foods grocer competition and now they are the only game in town. Or they have been.
Over the past several years, I've been delighted to find that my local Jewel carried a decent selection of organic produce, especially the Earthbound Organics line. Because of dietary restrictions, there was a time where I used to lament that if I were locked in Jewel for a week I'd starve. That, I am happy to say, is no longer true. The proof is in the fact that I often need to take either my Zuca Cart or horrors, even my bubba cart because Jewel is now blessedly providing much in the way of food shopping alternatives for even fussy shoppers like me.
There I've been able to buy my organic vegetables, salad materials, some fruit, dairy and soy products, eggs, dried cereal, snacks, and now chicken! For anyone who hasn't been in a Jewel lately, they've reorganized (again) and thankfully gone back to segregating most of their natural and organic foods from the conventional stuff. In my "small" Jewel, in a section called, "Wild Harvest," there are two full aisles of dry goods, followed by another aisle of refrigerated goods (dairy but not eggs), and the store also carries some natural and organic breads in the standard bread aisle. There are also organic and natural (preservative and artificial additive free, just for clarification) frozen foods that include both desserts and entrees, as well as gluten free foods!!
Mostly out of curiosity, I just picked up a package of their Wild Harvest boneless chicken. My impressions when I brought this home was that it was very, very well packaged. For one, the outer plastic packaging was thicker and leak proof, making using a plastic bag around it unnecessary. Inside, the chicken was placed in a plastic tray. Although maybe not the most environmentally sensitive use of packaging, with all the recycling options in Chicago this just requires it to be rinsed/washed off. What it does do from a consumer standpoint is keep the chicken pieces intact better and not create a little bio-bacterial farm that seems to occur when stores use a plastic/cotton pad underneath to soak up the difference.
I also could not help but notice that the chicken didn't smell, and I mean that in a nice way. Lately my chicken from Whole Foods has an odor that chicken gets when it begins to obviously deteriorate. This occurs even when I purchase it the same day I use it. I've heard that when the life energy level of a store or business (or even a home) is "low" then foods will tend to rot or deteriorate quickly. Who would have ever thought that this could happen more at Whole Foods versus my local Jewel? Then again, maybe something is a little rotten at the top of my favorite grocer.