Whole Foods, purported purveyor of products that support healthy people and a healthy planet, nearly broke the internet over the weekend as images of shocking product packaging went viral. The natural grocer was selling pre-peeled oranges in clear plastic tubs, essentially replacing nature’s own biodegradable packaging with an unnecessary and wasteful product. The company has since issued an apology and pulled the plastic-encased oranges from their shelves, but many other ridiculous packaging decisions are still being made in this and many other grocery store chains.
The oranges in question aren’t just any oranges, since this is Whole Foods we’re talking about after all. The company selected the sweet, juicy, snack-friendly Sumo Mandarin for its ill-planned “convenience” option. The Sumo is a cross between a typical mandarin orange and a California navel orange, resulting in a larger version of the sweet treats. Michelle Cehn of WorldOfVegan.com originally posted photographic evidence of the atrocity, which she spotted at an Oakland, CA location, and the post spread like sweet citrusy wildfire as consumers became more or less enraged over the wasteful practice.
On Twitter and in a statement to Eater, Whole Foods apologized for the error of their orange-handling ways, saying “this was a simple case where a handful of stores experimented with a seasonal product spotlight that wasn’t fully thought through.” They went on to thank customers for feedback so corporate “could take a closer look.”
And members of Whole Foods upper echelon aren’t the only ones doing a double-take. This incident has caused consumers to think twice about the rest of the pre-peeled, pre-sliced, pre-packaged produce still on the shelves of this so-called healthy grocery store. After all, it’s not uncommon to see other fruits like melons, pineapples, berries, and grapes carefully piled into clear plastic tubs of various sizes and stacked like sentinels above inflated price tags. So, the next time you’re craving fruit on the go, take a look around the produce section and consider whether nature’s packaging is good enough for you. We think it is.