Top Five Flavors Best Found at Whole Foods (This Will Save You Tons of Time)

Photos by John Kiely
This is a place for those who shop carefully, and with specific items in mind.

I tried shopping at a health-food market for a few weeks, until the time I brought my friend Stephanie along. She quipped that the clientele of Wild Oats seemed split between the robustly healthy and the sickly anxious. Her astuteness made me laugh, but she wasn't finished yet. "Which of those paths do you think you will go down?" she asked. I never returned to Wild Oats.

Nowadays I live near a Whole Foods Market, where the shoppers defy categorization and seem to be just looking for natural, delicious food. While I'm still not ready to pay a premium for many organic foods, I do go there for five items I have difficulty finding anywhere else.

5) Red Boat Fish Sauce

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Red Boat is the gold standard of fish sauce.

As garlic and onions are to Italian food, fish sauce is a foundation of Vietnamese and Vietnamese-inspired cuisine. Red Boat is regarded as the best fish sauce, as it's made with anchovies and water, nothing else.

The "40° N" on the label doesn't refer to a great latitude in which to dine, but rather the degree of nitrogen in the sauce, which comes from the protein in the anchovies. A degree-rating of 35° is good, and 40° is better. Speaking of Italian food, Red Boat is a convenient replacement for anchovy paste, and its umami taste, in Caesar salad and Bolognese sauce. I even put a few drops on pizza slices, or in hamburger patties as a replacement for Worcestershire sauce.

4) Sorghum Syrup

Sorghum syrup is a classic Southern alternative to honey on hot biscuits.

Matt and Ted Lee are brothers who transplanted from South Carolina to New York City. They got so homesick that they started selling Southern food products online, and wrote a classic, The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. One of the foods they missed most was sorghum syrup.

After searching for the syrup everywhere on road trips through the South, to no avail, I found it at Whole Foods. Bittersweet sorghum syrup is indeed delicious on biscuits (homemade or not), pancakes and waffles. Substituting ½ teaspoon as the sweetener makes for a uniquely Southern Old-Fashioned cocktail.

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My Voice Nation Help

Mmm. Bacon. I love the bacon from their butcher case. I always get breakfast tacos on Sunday mornings made with their bacon. Oh and their lattes beat you know who, hands down!


If you ever make fajitas, get the flap steak.  I've only ever seem it at Whole Foods and it is way better than flank. They turned me onto it when they didn't have any flank and I've never looked back. The buffalo hot dogs are really good also. I know this article was focused on flavor enhancers but these are worth checking out in addition to those.

Corey Mueller
Corey Mueller

No but the inconsiderate masses of douchedom that shop there are overwhelming..

gossamersixteen topcommenter

Spanish olive oil, seaside or 1833 cheddar, red miso paste, and oddly chicken wings (they're actually cheaper than most supermarkets).

MadMac topcommenter

Thanks, on the tip-side. I'm already thinking of uses for that chocolate and I was ready to give up on an afforable, real balsamic vinegar.


great list. I'd add The Pickle Guy's Hot Giardiniera, so good


@Florida63 Good tangent, actually.  Skirt steak for fajitas is hard to find anywhere, and subs like "sirloin meat for fajitas" are usually chewy disappointments.  Definitely wanted to learn of buffalo hot dogs, too.

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