I don't know how many years this has been going on, but I just discovered that Whole Foods is presenting its annual "Meatopia," a self-described "Woodstock of Edible Animals," in New York in September. The one-day event is an all-you-can-eat meat festival, complete with a Best Butcher Contest in which Whole Foods' own butchers from their stores compete. In the same press release that announces the butchery contest, the chain touts their 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating(TM) program that began two years ago. The store also rates seafood according to sustainability.
No one thinks that Whole Foods is vegan or vegetarian. You can't shop there without knowing that they sell meat. But sponsoring a festival of meat - a celebration of butchery and slaughter - is a disgusting and irresponsible display that shows their true colors. In case anyone still believed that Whole Foods cares about animals, the environment, or sustainability, this should be proof that the purpose of their ratings is to boost their own profits by convincing their customers that they can buy animal products ethically. Even though there's no such thing as humane meat and no way to sustainably raise livestock for the masses.
I don't shop at Whole Foods often because it's far away and it's expensive. They do offer many more vegan and vegetarian options than other supermarkets. But whenever someone who is trying to sell you something tells you how ethical their product is, take it with a grain of salt and investigate it yourself.