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Pontormo

Whole Foods & Prosciutto

63 posts in this topic

Craig,

That's where I normally shop. I stopped at Whole Foods to scope out the prosciutto situation. Besides, Pasta Works has more reasonable prices on cheese.

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Our Houston Whole Food (KIrby at Alabama) has only La Quercia in stock, and since it was on sale for $16.99 (versus $21.99 for San Daniele at Central Market) I purchaed some for the weekend. Very good quality indeed!

I get mine at the big Specs on Smith--it's cheaper and they know how to slice it. I prefer the San Daniele.


Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

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Our Houston Whole Food (KIrby at Alabama) has only La Quercia in stock, and since it was on sale for $16.99 (versus $21.99 for San Daniele at Central Market) I purchaed some for the weekend. Very good quality indeed!

I get mine at the big Specs on Smith--it's cheaper and they know how to slice it. I prefer the San Daniele.

know how to slice it

Right you are. This is so often overlooked. I can't stand arriving home with a clump of proscuitto instead of slices. Why don't these high-end stores take the time to teach people how to handle such an expensive product.

When you buy proscuitto in Italy they give it to you almost gift wrapped.

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WF in White Plains, NY was carrying it about one month ago. I'll probably be there again tomorrow and try to let you all know. I got told the same story about Italians using hormones on their animals. Also I was told that Serranno ham hasn't been carried in a while because the Spanish also use hormones. I have been getting my proscuitto from Balducci's.


-James Kessler

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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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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.


"Last week Uncle Vinnie came over from Sicily and we took him to the Olive Garden. The next day the family car exploded."

--Nick DePaolo

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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.

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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.

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.

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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?


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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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.


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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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.

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

-mike


-Mike & Andrea

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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.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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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.

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.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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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 (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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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.

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.

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!


"Give it to Neil. I'll bet he'll eat it."

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Back to the hating!

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

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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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

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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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Back to the hating!

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

: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.


"Give it to Neil. I'll bet he'll eat it."

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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

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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.

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.

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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

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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.

: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:


"Give it to Neil. I'll bet he'll eat it."

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