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Whole Foods & Prosciutto


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#31 bobmac

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 07:28 AM

I suspect that Whole Foods employees are instructed to say that anything they don't carry is not up to their standards. I tried to buy a locally made goat cheese and was given that answer. And several years ago I was told that Panko was not up to their standards, but last week I bought meatballs there and guess what? One of the ingredients was Panko.
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#32 gariotin

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 07:18 PM

Pontormo, I heard thru the distributor who has been selling Galloni proscuitto into WF for over 10 years. Galloni is a family-owned business, making proscuitto for many years. It is crazy to say that their products are not "good" enough for WF. I think they are stepping over the line here - this should be an individual decision, just like eating meat.

#33 Kent Wang

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 08:58 PM

I suspect that Whole Foods employees are instructed to say that anything they don't carry is not up to their standards. I tried to buy a locally made goat cheese and was given that answer. And several years ago I was told that Panko was not up to their standards, but last week I bought meatballs there and guess what? One of the ingredients was Panko.

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What a despicable practice. I wonder if the employees actually believe that these products are "not up standard" or if they know that they're lying.

#34 hjshorter

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 04:52 AM

Cautionary remark is in order.  Good point.  But, they DO sell ham for sandwiches and a couple of types of salami.  (Their pate just never looked worth buying.)  And until now, they could always be counted on for Italian prosciutto.

Their pate is indeed NOT worth buying. WF has a large selection of cold cuts that have no nitrites and are made from animals that have not been given antibiotics or hormones. They also don't have much flavor. For prosciutto, serrano, French ham, etc., I always go to Balducci's or Dean & Deluca if I feel like making the trip to Georgetown.

You're right though...after looking around the store yesterday things like olives and cheese seem to be exempt from their "organic" standards. I wonder if they had complaints about the ham?
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#35 hjshorter

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 04:54 AM

from my friend who works in the WF meat dept:

now cured meats present a problem in how they're cured. most commercial plants cure their meats with nitrates or nitrites to help keep a longer shelf life.... all the lunch meats that I order (I'm the poultry buyer in my department) are cured with either sugar or salt or celery juice. less shelf life once the packaging is opened, but a more natural taste than oscar meyer.......

Gah. That's the flavor. Thanks for the info.
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#36 gariotin

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 04:59 AM

WF sells the same pates that are in most of the other "gourmet" stores - Trois Petits Cochons, Alexian, Fabrique Delices, etc. These manufacturers have gone out of their way to source meat that is antibiotic & hormone free and they are made without preservatives. That's why they turn gray after they are sliced - no nitrates. I disagree with hjshorter - I think their pates are just fine.

#37 hjshorter

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 05:49 AM

The problem may be with the wrapping and storing.
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#38 NYC Mike

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 05:58 AM

WF (called Harry's) here in Roswell sells prosciutto de Parma $18 p/lb.

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#39 Pontormo

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 07:05 AM

Much ado about nothing on my part?

I don't know. In any respect, the WF I usually visit DID have a tiny bit of the haunch of an imported prosciutto this weekend, a piece too small to produce slices that would wrap melon. Peaches or figs, maybe, and enough to mince for a Neapolitan Genovese.

The deli folk expressed utter ignorance when I told them what the "team member" at a different store in the city told me, that is, that this particular region will no longer be selling imported prosciutto because it doesn't meet the company's standards. I still think it's odd that I haven't seen the ham for months at my local WF upon the grassy knoll. They swore they haven't been buying less and that the stuff is just so popular that it sells out quickly...at $21.99 around here.
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#40 Pontormo

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 07:19 AM

I suspect that Whole Foods employees are instructed to say that anything they don't carry is not up to their standards...And several years ago I was told that Panko was not up to their standards, but last week I bought meatballs there and guess what? One of the ingredients was Panko.

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I get the impression that "Panko" no longer refers just to one brand of Japanese breadcrumbs that contains the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil that has long been verboten at WF (notice lack of Pepperidge Farm cookies); it now refers to a "style" of light, dry breadcrumb distinctive from the Italian style that is more finely ground. The meatballs probably do not have :angry: fats.
"Viciousness in the kitchen.
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#41 hjshorter

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 07:48 AM

FYI, Pepperidge farm has been voluntarily eliminating all partially hydrogenated fat from their products. A quick check of the three varieties in my cabinet :biggrin: list butter, vegetables oils, and hydrogenated fats.

Edited by hjshorter, 18 September 2006 - 07:49 AM.

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#42 NeilMalek

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 08:04 AM

I suspect that Whole Foods employees are instructed to say that anything they don't carry is not up to their standards...And several years ago I was told that Panko was not up to their standards, but last week I bought meatballs there and guess what? One of the ingredients was Panko.

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I get the impression that "Panko" no longer refers just to one brand of Japanese breadcrumbs that contains the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil that has long been verboten at WF (notice lack of Pepperidge Farm cookies); it now refers to a "style" of light, dry breadcrumb distinctive from the Italian style that is more finely ground. The meatballs probably do not have :angry: fats.

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I'm going to have to agree here... I'm all for disapproval of their practices, but their stance isn't undefendable. If the production / processing / packaging of the product is not up to their standards, they won't carry it. If, several years later, that product changes to meet their standards, they will carry it. The two situations are not mutually exclusive, especially separated by several years.

Back to the hating!
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#43 hjshorter

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 08:43 AM

Back to the hating!

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And here I thought we were having a spirited, critical discussion.
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#44 Pontormo

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 09:36 AM

Thank you for the diplomacy. Cf. the initial post of this thread. I try not to bite the hand that feeds me, though sometimes it is hard to resist.
"Viciousness in the kitchen.
The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

#45 hathor

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 11:07 AM

Wow. Very strange on many levels.
1) If WF is going to make a blanket, disparaging statement, like "not up to our standards", then they must publically publish those standards.
2) Are they kidding? I'd trust an Italian making prosciutto, where it a revered art form, long before I'd trust any industrial US product. And if there is an artiginal US producer, I'd give it a try, but the production would be very limited.
The Italians 'invented' prosciutto, they are obssessed with things like air quality, cultivating their own particular "muffa'' or mold. The artisinally raised pigs are slaughtered with the honor that they deserve.
3) Prosciutto di Parma is a DOP product with very strict requirements to retain the DOP designation. The prosciutto can only come from 3 breeds of pig: Large White, Landrace or Duroc, it must weigh at least 150 kilos, and can be slaughtered after it reaches 9 months. (info from the Slow Food guide to Salami). There is no reference to antibiotics given to the animal. Feed would be tightly controlled and would have to come from the area where the pig is raised.
4) After the lobster thing....WF might want to rethink their press relations. There is a large, some would say, Bush type disconnect, with reality going on. I would bet that they simply weren't making enough money on the product to justify carrying it. Its not just the product, but also slicing and education about how to handle the product, that affect bottom line profitability.
5) The Italian producers, after being mortally offended, would laugh themselves silly at the thought of somebody at WF telling them how to produce prosciutto.

Disclaimer: I have absolutely no interest in bashing or praising WF. My interest is soley in discovering why a major chain like WF would prohibit the sale of Italian prosciutto.

#46 NeilMalek

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 11:41 AM

Back to the hating!

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And here I thought we were having a spirited, critical discussion.

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:cool: I suppose that's another way of looking at it.

[disclaimer] I'm about to talk with very little personal experience, completely on my gut reaction to the company.[/disclaimer]

I've always seen WF as a 'hippie' grocery store, supporting what they feel like they can support and discarding what they 'don't agree with'. I don't require a lot of reasoning from them, unlike a (fill in the name of the chain in your area - Publix, Kroger, Piggly Wiggly, etc.).

This conversation, for many, is very constructive, and they'd like to get the details behind why the company does or does not carry a particular product. The post I quoted, however, was pointing at the 'acceptance' of a particular product at one time, and its disapproval at another time (and hinted at this being hypocritical). In posts like that one, I just like to point out 'reality,' so that a perfectly valid criticism doesn't go completely off track.

It's perfectly reasonable to me that, in 2001, panko breadcrumbs were not an accepted product, and now in 2006, they are accepted. Just as I wouldn't be surprised if WF changed their stance on prosciutto in a year or two.
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#47 Pontormo

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 01:02 PM

Neil: Go back and read posts closely and thoroughly.

1) I did buy Italian prosciutto here in Washington, D.C. at a WF this past weekend.

2) Reread what was said about Panko in my first post. I said "Panko" is now being used as a blanket term for Japanese style breadcrumbs, the same way "Kleenex" is used for paper tissues that might be manufactured by another company. I did not imply that one company named Panko makes one item that has been changed over the past 5 years to meet WF's standards, nor did I say that WF has changed its standards so that they now are inclusive enough to accommodate Panko.

Earlier in the thread I said some rather unflattering things, too, but I am waiting to learn more.
"Viciousness in the kitchen.
The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

#48 russ parsons

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 01:26 PM

Wow. Very strange on many levels.
2) Are they kidding? I'd trust an Italian making prosciutto, where it a revered art form, long before I'd trust any industrial US product. And if there is an artiginal US producer, I'd give it a try, but the production would be very limited.
The Italians 'invented' prosciutto, they are obssessed with things like air quality, cultivating their own particular "muffa'' or mold. The artisinally raised pigs are slaughtered with the honor that they deserve.

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i'm as fond of italian artisans as anyone, but the prosciutto di parma consorzio is extremely big, with a LOT of industrial-style producers (and a lot that aren't). in general, i think they do a good job of maintaining an overal high level of quality. but there are some that aren't so good ... and some that are a lot better than that. the italians try to argue that in the consorzio, all are equal, but in my experience, in italy everyone knows the factory codes of their favorite producers and goes to the store that sells them. i know that here in los angeles, i recently had a prosciutto from the "pio tosini" factory that was probably the best i've had in the us.

#49 Pontormo

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 01:54 PM

Pio Tosini is also served at Dino here in Washington, D.C. The owner once worked for Whole Foods.
"Viciousness in the kitchen.
The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

#50 NeilMalek

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 01:57 PM

Neil:  Go back and read posts closely and thoroughly.

1) I did buy Italian prosciutto here in Washington, D.C. at a WF this past weekend.

2) Reread what was said about Panko in my first post.  I said "Panko" is now being used as a blanket term for Japanese style breadcrumbs, the same way "Kleenex" is used for paper tissues that might be manufactured by another company.  I did not imply that one company named Panko makes one item that has been changed over the past 5 years to meet WF's standards, nor did I say that WF has changed its standards so that they now are inclusive enough to accommodate Panko.

Earlier in the thread I said some rather unflattering things, too, but I am waiting to learn more.

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:rolleyes:

I was quoting you for truth in quoting the first guy:

I suspect that Whole Foods employees are instructed to say that anything they don't carry is not up to their standards. I tried to buy a locally made goat cheese and was given that answer. And several years ago I was told that Panko was not up to their standards, but last week I bought meatballs there and guess what? One of the ingredients was Panko.


I think ^^^^ this post is wrong.

Reread thoroughly. :cool:
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#51 Elizabeth Clauser

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 10:37 AM

Apparently the decision to sell imported proscuitto is being left to each region.  Some regions still intend to carry Parma & San Daniele.
Apparently the concern is that in Italy, they give the pigs antibiotics for the first 12 weeks of their life.  Anyone know how old they are when slaughtered?  I gotta believe it's close to a year?

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I worked for WF for over 10 years (full disclosure - two and half as a dept manager and the rest only part time for the discount). In any case, unless things have radically changed, the company has baseline standards for the foods they will and will not sell. Beyond that, each region may have higher standards for some products or offerings. Here is Boston, I can attest that our deli offers both pre-packaged and fresh cut domestic and imported prosciutto.

#52 robyn

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 02:32 PM

Not to get all Occam's razor-y, but I always thought the reason that they didn't have real proscuitto was because they just didn't do the charcuterie thing.  Pate's, non pre-packaged saucisses and salamis, quality cold cuts -- they just don't do it.  I think they'd rather devote the training, counter-space and man-hours to selling something that yields a little more revenue per square foot, like prepared foods or fake artisinal breads.

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This is too bad because Whole Foods might be the only place for people in some parts of the country to potentially have access to good coldcuts and charcuterie.

I'm speaking of locations without old style Italian and German delis which are becoming rare even in some places where they used to be plentiful. I wish someone at Whole Foods would decide that quality coldcuts, sausages and charcuterie derived from classic recipes from France, Italy and Germany is something worth selling. If there are issues regarding the import of some of these items they can also be made in the US.

Here's a vote from one potential customer.

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Don't worry - those of us in the hinterlands (without WF) have access to these things. This is the stuff that Costco sells. Fresh Market also sells the stuff (although it's hand-sliced - not pre-packaged). I don't eat it - but when I've served the Costco product to guests - they seem to like it. I know Steve shops at Costco - and perhaps he or someone else can comment on the relative merits of this brand.

As for ethnic foods - as we get more first generation immigrants moving here (from places like China - India - central and south America - Bosnia - etc.) - we get more ethnic grocery stores.

I don't have any problems with WF not carrying this product - or similar charcuterie. We don't have WF here - but when I've shopped at it (most recently at its flagship store in Austin - that's one terrific looking store) - my impression has always been that it's a "healthy food store" - not a "gourmet food store". It has a right to sell things which it thinks are consistent with its image - and to avoid those that aren't. Robyn

#53 Craigm

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 03:54 PM

Just a couple of points, really with no conclusion in mind:

1. Not everything Whole Foods sells is organic, at least as far as vegetables go.

2. Organic is not necessarily "better". I have spent a lot of time around sustainable agriculture people, both animal and vegetable. Industrial organics improvement over industrial regular agriculture, especially given the price differential, is open to debate. Knowing your producers, and their methods, is the real key so you can make your own choices about what is acceptable for you and your family. Not relying on some behemoth corporation like Whole Foods, which has a enormous profit incentive to protect. Read Michael Pollan's description of Petaluma Poultry's raising of Rosie's and Rocky's. Industrial, but with organic grain.

3. The USDA makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible to make a top quality ham like prosciutto that can be sold commercially. Government regulations are slanted towards big business and large scale production of non-handmade (or from their viewpoint, "unhygienic") food. Think about the fight about unpasteurized milk being used in cheese. (Heck, at this point it's gotten so I am happy if I can find a regular source of milk that hasn't been ultra-pasteurized). That fight has not happened with meat. Who wants to fight Hormel, Tyson, etc, who control the dialogue at nearly all levels of food policy.

Hope I don't sound too cranky.

#54 Lutece

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 04:55 PM

from my friend who works in the WF meat dept:

speaking from the meat department side, our regional coordinator travels around the world and inspects each farm for how the animals are raised, how they're treated, making sure that the animals can be traced from birth batch to slaughter, blah, blah, blah.....................

now cured meats present a problem in how they're cured. most commercial plants cure their meats with nitrates or nitrites to help keep a longer shelf life.... all the lunch meats that I order (I'm the poultry buyer in my department) are cured with either sugar or salt or celery juice. less shelf life once the packaging is opened, but a more natural taste than oscar meyer.......

now those animals may or may not be getting hormone shots. what are they being fed? they should be getting an all natural vegetarian diet minus corn. most of the worlds supply of corn has been genetically modified. there is almost no getting around that.......

now all decisions for what WFM will carry are carried out at the regional level. i haven't had rabbit in three years now because the provider, grimaud, lost their barn to fire way back when and they won't rebuild because they never made a profit from naturally raised rabbit. if you've got land and can clear it in the three year period it takes to clear land of pesticides, you might be able to run your own biz and make money since I get the question of if we carry rabbit like at least 3 to 5 times a month...........

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Speaking of whole foods ...I shop there and love their chicken but I find that their pork does not look good. Why is that? I once bought packaged, sealed, baby back ribs and I opened them up and they stunk. So, I brought them back and the butcher told me they put some kind of 'gas' in there to preserve it!! NEVER AGAIN..
Has anyone noticed the pork is not a very appetizing color, their chopped pork, their chops, their filets....I wonder why?
I'm talking about the Ridgewood NJ store.

#55 ghostrider

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 06:44 AM

3.  The USDA makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible to make a top quality ham like prosciutto that can be sold commercially.  Government regulations are slanted towards big business and large scale production of non-handmade (or from their viewpoint, "unhygienic") food.  Think about the fight about unpasteurized milk being used in cheese.  (Heck, at this point it's gotten so I am happy if I can find a regular source of milk that hasn't been ultra-pasteurized).  That fight has not happened with meat.  Who wants to fight Hormel, Tyson, etc, who control the dialogue at nearly all levels of food policy.

Hope I don't sound too cranky.

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I met a farmer in Maine some years ago who had built a smokehouse & was trying to get a cured meats business off the ground. He had superb country hams, and the bacon, oh my, the bacon.... He also had many stories about the insanity of gov't regulations, and not just the USDA. Some agency, perhaps OSHA, made him add a full bathroom to the smokehouse even though he had no employees & his farmhouse was directly across the road.....
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#56 JohnL

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 08:24 AM

Just a couple of points, really with no conclusion in mind:

1.  Not everything Whole Foods sells is organic, at least as far as vegetables go.

2.  Organic is not necessarily "better".  I have spent a lot of time around sustainable agriculture people, both animal and vegetable.  Industrial organics improvement over industrial regular agriculture, especially given the price differential, is open to debate.  Knowing your producers, and their methods, is the real key so you can make your own choices about what is acceptable for you and your family.  Not relying on some behemoth corporation like Whole Foods, which has a enormous profit incentive to protect.  Read Michael Pollan's description of Petaluma Poultry's raising of Rosie's and Rocky's.  Industrial, but with organic grain.

3.  The USDA makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible to make a top quality ham like prosciutto that can be sold commercially.  Government regulations are slanted towards big business and large scale production of non-handmade (or from their viewpoint, "unhygienic") food.  Think about the fight about unpasteurized milk being used in cheese.  (Heck, at this point it's gotten so I am happy if I can find a regular source of milk that hasn't been ultra-pasteurized).  That fight has not happened with meat.  Who wants to fight Hormel, Tyson, etc, who control the dialogue at nearly all levels of food policy.

Hope I don't sound too cranky.

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we need "cranky"!!!
I agree with you re: organic vs non organic and quality.
We seem to be obsessed with size. Somehow small is good and big is bad.
This is way too simplistic. There is an argument to be made that in many instances
if small is good then it will become big.
The issue is can big keep the quality of small intact?
Sometimes yes sometimes no.

Parmesano reggiano is the result of a large "industrial" operation.
Niman Ranch is a large operation.

Breyer's ics cream was 'ruined" when Sealtest bought them
while Haagen Dasz has thrived under ownership of various large conglomerates.
Gallo and Mondavi make some wonderful "artisinal" wines.
and so on.....

As for the USDA. They are not the real problem. The real problem is us!
We want it all--small artisinal food producers and large industrial producers with
distribution and low prices. We also want the government to protect us totally and we do not
want to be bothered with any personal responsibility.
There are a growing number of small family owned operations smoking and curing meats here
in the US. On the East Coast we have Nodine's in Connecticut and a very small outfit in upstate NY whose name escapes me but whose bacon and sausages I love.
The prosciutto situation involves an imported product and thus we want to be protected from
"foreign" made items that may be made under conditions that we have no control over. Remember we citizens want to be totally safe and protected!
One thing that has happened is that one can get "authentic" tasting domestic versions of, say, Italian salumi's here. Both Mario Batali's dad's operation and that of Paul Bertoli are excellent examples.

I have long believed that the health food movement while offering a lot of good and very beneficial ideas/things is getting a bit out of control.
Food has become too polarized wherein there is good and evil. Small good, big evil.
Organic growing is good while chemicals are bad.
The truth is pesticides and chemical fertilizers are not as bad as they once were. The chemical industry is improving their products and farmers are devising new techniques that reduce reliance on anything that could be harmful.

On the other hand the organic movement has grown and now is benefitting from economies of scale. The downside is there are problems with this that need to be addressed. One is that too often one must sacrifice taste and flavor to "eat healthy." Either that nitrate free salami gets better or we accept less quality are to me unacceptable options--I prefer the good stuff in moderation!

As for Whole Foods, I admire their attempts to adhere to a set of principles but I also believe that these principles have begun to get in the way of quality. It may well be impossible to adhere to them and provide the best quality at reasonable cost. Something's gotta give.
Thus Whole Foods will not be able to offer it all.
I personally prefer operations wherein the over riding principle is simply the best quality.
Retailers like Fairway and Zabar's, Balducci's, Jefferson Market, Citarella, Dean and Dellucca, Di Palo etc etc etc. here in New York.
What I see on the shelves of Whole Foods does not begin to compare with what is and was offered at these establishments who are not out to save the world.

I do see a more valid comparison between Whole Foods and large supermarket chains like A and P and DAG and Stop and Shop. In fact, I have noticed that these outfits have begun to raise the level of quality in response to the competition from Whole Foods. I also predict that as they increase their quality Whole Foods will need to revisit their list of principles because they will be at a disadvantage.
The danger in any large nationwide operation is the "dumbing down" of quality and the reduction of choices and as we define quality differently with different priorities wide choice is critical.

:wink:

#57 FoodMan

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 09:21 AM

In Houston we have the fabulouse Central Market, I buy stuff like Proscuitto there as well as 50 or more other cured meats from so many countries. CM puts WF and their meat department (as well as seafood, grocery, bulk items,...) to abig shame. WF is too 1984 for me, too many dumb nensensical controls. I like the whole "standards" thing, but this is just bullcrap IMHO. They told me they do nto carry Serrano and Bayonne ham because of Nitrates. Like someone said, it's all about taste and quality. I could not give a damn if there are Nitrates or not in the ham cured in France or Italy. If it tastes great I will buy it and not blink an eye. Europeans have been curing meat for hundreds of years, I trust them.

I am not making a blanket statement here, but a lot of the folks who shop at WF regularly (not ALL, but MANY of the people I know), are just shopping there to feel good about themselves. "Oh, I only shop at WF, they only have the best organic Cheetos". They are the same people who have a lovely peach tree in the backyard, but buy peaches from WF because it is "organic" :wacko:.

For the purposes of this project though, Pontormo, I will ask for more info next time I stop by, if I ever do honestly.

edit: speaking of CM, check this out. I wonder if Iberico ham and other Iberian pork products are up to WF standards? ooh they just might have trace nitrates in them :smile:

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#58 SWISS_CHEF

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 11:41 PM

Wow. Very strange on many levels.
1) If WF is going to make a blanket, disparaging statement, like "not up to our standards", then they must publically publish those standards.
2) Are they kidding? I'd trust an Italian making prosciutto, where it a revered art form, long before I'd trust any industrial US product. And if there is an artiginal US producer, I'd give it a try, but the production would be very limited.
The Italians 'invented' prosciutto, they are obssessed with things like air quality, cultivating their own particular "muffa'' or mold. The artisinally raised pigs are slaughtered with the honor that they deserve.
3) Prosciutto di Parma is a DOP product with very strict requirements to retain the DOP designation. The prosciutto can only come from 3 breeds of pig: Large White, Landrace or Duroc, it must weigh at least 150 kilos, and can be slaughtered after it reaches 9 months. (info from the  Slow Food guide to Salami).  There is no reference to antibiotics given to the animal.  Feed would be tightly controlled and would have to come from the area where the pig is raised.
4) After the lobster thing....WF might want to rethink their press relations.  There is a large, some would say, Bush type disconnect,  with reality going on.  I would bet that they simply weren't making enough money on the product to justify carrying it.  Its not just the product, but also slicing and education about how to handle the product, that affect bottom line profitability.
5) The Italian producers, after being mortally offended, would laugh themselves silly at the thought of somebody at WF telling them how to produce prosciutto.

Disclaimer: I have absolutely no interest in bashing or praising WF. My interest is soley in discovering why a major chain like WF would prohibit the sale of Italian prosciutto.

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Perfectly put.
American prosciutto....ha! I remember that...a big gob of shredded ham stuffed in a plastic bag by a 16 year old kid who couldn't give a shit.

Our prosciutto is sliced by Gilberto (the best butcher in the Monferrato) on his 80 year old Berkel hand-cranked slicer, one loving slice at a time and layed in neat rows with sheets of wax paper to seperate the layers. When we open the package at home it perfumes the whole room. That is prosciutto! We would rather do without than have it any other way.

#59 Pontormo

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 11:42 AM

Edorovio: Check out links and references to La Quercia in Iowa. The American "artisanals" are growing more sophisticated and their "artisans" produce a superior product. These folk are getting acclaim and there's a new one out in Berkeley area that just got a write-up in Gourmet.

The thing is, the real deal is produced from animals that eat differently and breathe different air...let alone factors that include breeds, locations, in-house traditions and so forth. Me, yes, I'd rather have the Italian thing.

Ditto on Serrano and the limited number of Spanish pork-products now available here.

Cheddar is perhaps one of the best examples when it comes to an imported tradition that North Americans have spun-off successfully, but the domestic versions of the British original are different cheeses. Fresh cheeses don't translate as well (she says, three days after eating burrata from Campania flown in that morning) here. No one in the US makes a mozzarella that lives up to a good Italian one (especially from bufale). And cheese is not the same thing as meat.

From what I understand, there are Italian producers who do feed their animals antibiotics for a limited amount of time. This is what bothers Whole Foods. Cf. the post by Russ Parsons regarding a reluctance to over-romanticize the superiority of all Italian prosciutti, but it's the way the animal is raised that seems to be even more important to WF than the quality of the product in regards to taste, flavor, etc. For example, the store sells packaged, pre-sliced Italian prosciutto that passes its test, but that is something I would never purchase myself due to belief that it is not as good.

As we've probably said over and over in this thread, we've got some supply and demand issues in addition to those that smack of corporate arrogance or extremism. It's not a black and white matter. If everyone in the world knew how good real prosciutto crudo/dolce is, then what do we do? Better keep those commercials for McDonald's running on TV and make Parma sure does not fit everyone's budget.

Edited by Pontormo, 24 September 2006 - 12:16 PM.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.
The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

#60 chow guy

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Posted 03 October 2006 - 01:10 PM

I want to know more about what standards they're talking about.

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They told me (At Whole Foods here in Albuquerque) that their Italian purveyors could not provide chemical and hormone free product.