Whole Foods Removes ‘Asparagus Water’ from Store After Internet Uproar

08/04/2015 at 12:31 PM ET

Whole Foods Asparagus Water
Marielle Wakim/Los Angeles Magazine

Whole Foods has often been called out for its high prices, but one new product has taken that to a whole new leveland it’s causing quite a stir.

On Monday, Eater reported that the organic grocery store chain appeared to be selling a product called “asparagus water” at a location in Brentwood, California. What does this concoction consist of, exactly? A bottle of water with three stalks of raw asparagus in it, and a $5.99 price tag. Hmmm.

Comparatively, the article points out, you can buy a whole bundle of asparagus for a mere $5 (and, don’t forget, tap water is basically free).

The Internet, of course, responded in the only way it knows how: outrage and snark.

In response, Whole Foods issued a statement, claiming it was just one, big (’90s-sitcom-worthy) miscommunication.

“It was meant to be water with the essence of vegetables and/or mushrooms to be used as broth (similar to a bone broth), which are typically made over a long period of time soaking in water,” senior media relations specialist Liz Burkart said to Eater. “The product was made incorrectly and has since been removed from the one store where it was carried.”

This “Asparagus-Gate” (are we still doing that?) comes on the heels of news that Whole Foods was unfairly charging customers—and the company’s CEOs admitting to price inflation at many of its stores.

—Shay Spence, @chezspence

FILED UNDER: Drinks , Food , Food News

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Showing 29 comments

Maci on

I think the whole ‘it’s cool to buy at Whole Foods and spend an entire paycheck on 3 items’ is finally over.

Christine on

this is why I dont shop there anymore
I do love the baked goods though :)~

MimiB on

So.. just don’t buy foolish things. Why an uproar?

Emlow on

I worked there for 5 years. I would have quit sooner but I was going to school and needed the job. I’ve never been so unhappy and unhealthy in my life. The stress, the customers…ughhh. I knew I was in for a long one when my very first customer as a cashier said “Your people are taking over,” when I asked if she found everything she needed. I’m Hawaiian, so I don’t know what she meant by that….did she think I was Hispanic and repeating what she heard? Two customers later a guy called me a “a lying piece of garbage” because we were out of organic blueberries. Okay? Two very reasonable reactions *eye roll*. I had to toughen up quick but I didn’t like the attitude I developed trying not to care what people said. I became very negative myself. I finally graduated and found a job in aerospace metal finishing. Two very different jobs, but at least plane parts don’t talk back to you because you’re out of “organic” food. My husband hated me working there. My attitude me to 180 after I quit and I’m so much happier.

arabrabbra on

Hey, let them sell it! If there are morons out there buying it, why not?

chris on

I’m the cleanest eater and I HATE Whole Foods. Overpriced, gimmicky store for yuppies attempting to come off as pro-environment, pro-clean eating, anti-establishment … and also shopped by some good people unaware that there are other options. Got news for everyone: Whole Foods is highway robbery and it IS the establishment. There are all kinds of smaller stores that are inexpensive and offer local foods, organic options, etc. Whole Foods may have started right but it certainly has turned into something else altogether. People who’ve actually done their research, have heads on their shoulders and get the best bang for their buck shop in the smaller stores.

Terry H. on

Agree with Chris. If you want a smaller footprint hit farmers’ markets and smaller local shops. Many great local produce can’t afford to be classified as organic but are pretty clean and the footprint is much smaller. If you read and are informed, buying local is generally more important to the planet than buying organic and the difference to your health is next to nile if you pick the right options, ask the right questions, before purchasing. Obviously, sometimes you just want a Coconut and you’re getting it from another part of the world but we can all benefit from local produce, the environment does, and so does local economy. I do farmers markets and farms for as long as I can and I complement that with hitting Organic Garage or some Mama Earth which are just small places that offer great stuff. I can always find someone to tell me where things come from, etc. in the smaller places. Good luck getting assistance at the Whole Foods. It is like they’re doing you a favor by allowing you to shop in there and you better not ask questions. Love their fake explanation for the stupidest product ever! It wasn’t a mistake; they know some sucker will buy it.

slawson on

Do like Whole Wallet, oops, I mean Whole Foods. However, I’ll never go again. About a month a go we went to our friends lake house for the weekend. My assignment was to bring three different salads. I went to “Whole Wallet’s” deli and go three very small containers of different salads. Each was maybe 1 pound each. No lie, the total was $35. I make money, but at that point I was done. Plus, the salads were so small, there wasn’t even enough for four six people to have seconds. Unbelievable.

tooquiet4me2005 on

Whole Foods’ true colors are starting to show. And they’re all green. $$

Sacré on

My SIL has been on a relentless campaign for three years trying to get me to start eating healthy and shop at Whole Foods. It’s BS like this why that will NEVER happen. Well, that and I like ice cream too much.

Sandra on

I am not mad at Whole Foods for this, Stupid people with too much time and money and not enough brain cells are to blame for this mess. There is a sucker born every minute and apparently for the Whole Foods crowd every 30 seconds.

Amanda on

@Emlow. I cashiered at a run-of-the-mill local grocery store all during high school and believe me, a-hole customers aren’t just at Whole Foods.

CC on

Emlow….. People in general treat workers in retail like garbage! It’s sad. I worked retail late teens and early 20’s. You are right though, it makes you a negative person at work and home. You have to get tough otherwise you will be crying all day from rude people. But then you go home and complain to your family about the jerk customers, so then your negative at home. I feel your pain. As far as Whole Foods I almost never step foot in there it’s too expensive and fake. I do actually agree with everyone that says if you want to go organic local farmers markets are the way to go. Whole Foods started great but has sold out now!

peachy on

Like bone broth? Riiight. Bone broth is made that way because you can’t nor would you want to crush the bone, whereas you can just eat the vegetables, not get the essence of them. How ridiculous. I really don’t understand how so many people buy from Whole Foods at all.

Tiffany on

Why all the uproar? I’ve seen jars of SIMPLE SYRUP for $10. What about 4-packs Cheerios in “to-go” containers when people could buy a box of Cheerios for the same price and make 20 of their own “to-go” containers. It’s convenience and some people will pay for it. If you don’t like it, buy/make your own stuff and act like the grown up you want the world to take you for.

Guest on

It looks good to say that you get your food from Whole Foods and some of their prices are not over priced but you need to know your pricing when shopping there.

Anonymous on

Silly product, but how many people who complain about this buy Smartwater, Dasani or other brands that are nothing but filtered tap water in a bottle and just as useless. Folks waste money on a lot of stuff that is trendy or sold by entertainers who smile at the camera and not much else except make money off idiots who buy the products because they tell them to.

Easyup on

Wow, impressive conversations. You guys are no fools and you know your stuff. Good reading.

mrsmass on

No one is making anyone buy these products. Why the phoney outrage?

krebs303 on

It’s for people who are on a raw diet to make soup.

Kathy on

Hey, if they can find folks dumb enough to buy that, why not? How is this different than a ‘celebrity’ designed handbag selling for $3,00? Really, who gives a hoot? The whole basis of commerce is if folks are willing to pay, then charge what you can. It’s good business.

K on

Now let’s find out if anyone bought one.

Ann on

Tho I get your point, tap water is not “basically free”.
I pay the DWP bill myself.
Rain water is free. There ya go.

guest on

Sounds like a Jimmy Kimmel bit! LOL

Anne on

I am not a regular Whole Foods shopper ( due to all the reasons mentioned $$) but I do buy my produce there. I do think you can get great product if you are in a city where there are farmer’s markets and the smaller organic markets but if you are not, Whole Foods is still the best option. I am also not going to bash them entirely because I think they were instrumental in the overall positive changes to the food industry. They led the charge back when food ingredients were longer than most emails and beverages were diluted, day glow artificially flavored gunk. I appreciate what they’ve accomplished in the industry as a whole. It’s odd to hear them being called out as the “establishment” when not too long ago they were the anti -establishment industry disruptor. OK Whole Foods..now lower your !@#$# prices…it’s about time. You can’t keep using the organic foods cost more to grow than conventional argument anymore!!!

Anonymous on

Wow really?!! That was an ACTUAL product?! Despicable!!!

bebe on

I’ll stick with Trader Joe’s.

Dennis on

Lets be honest, is it really their fault that they believed their customers are so stupid as to buy 6 dollars asparagus water? I mean, they have been paying similar markups on everything else for years. Its not like THIS is somehow different than all the others.

Thaddeus on

I only drink lion water

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