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The Whole Truth

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Dear Mr. Joravsky:

Your article "Knot Cool" from the February 23 edition of the Reader came as a surprise to all of us at Whole Foods Market. We would appreciate the courtesy of allowing our interpretation of the events leading up to the story to be published in this week's edition of the Reader to clarify some important points for our customers and community.

Several months ago Mr. Holstein did approach the manager of the Whole Foods Market Midwest Bakehouse, Bobby Turner, about producing pretzels. At this point, Whole Foods Market had been already test baking pretzels in response to customer requests. Mr. Holstein was looking for a manufacturer for his pretzels and felt that our Bakehouse was an obvious choice. He showed Bobby the recipe and asked if the Bakehouse would be able to help him out. Unfortunately, the recipe called for dough conditioners, artificial ingredients that do not meet Whole Foods Market's Quality Standards, so we could not use his recipe. Bobby shared our existing all natural pretzel recipe that has been used in the Southwest Region stores for six years and agreed that our recipe could be substituted. At this point, Mr. Holstein said that he would like the Bakehouse to produce the pretzels, but under his name and with the understanding that Whole Foods Market would not be able to sell them. Bobby explained that the Bakehouse is the supplier for Whole Foods Market and would in no way be excluded. Furthermore, the only all natural recipe that produced great pretzels was our own. When Bobby explained the impossibility of such an arrangement, Mr. Holstein became very angry and stormed out of the office. Later, he wrote us a letter to which we replied. Since then, your article is the first time we have heard any response legally or otherwise from Mr. Holstein.

Whole Foods Market follows strict Quality Standard Guidelines and Mr. Holstein's recipe did not fall within them, therefore we used the recipe that has been in our database for six years.

Whole Foods Market is a company that is dedicated to assisting small producers. In our stores, you will find a variety of items that are locally produced and of that fact we are extremely proud. We would in no way jeopardize our integrity as a company or stewards of our community through such a malicious act. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. We appreciate your phone calls and responses to the article and hope that we have clarified any concerns you might have had.

Mary Kay Hagen

Midwest Regional President

Alison Williams

Chicago Marketing Director

Whole Foods Market

Ben Joravsky replies:

This letter comes as a surpise to me, since neither Bobby Turner nor the manager of the North Avenue Whole Foods store could be bothered to present Whole Foods' "interpretation of the events" when I was working on the story.

For the record, Scott Holstein says that Bobby Turner never shared any recipe with him, that his own recipe contains no artificial ingredients or dough conditioners, and that he never received a reply to his letter. I guess a court will decide which account to believe. Meanwhile I'm sorry that Whole Foods didn't choose to share their side of the story with Reader readers in the first place.

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