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Organic, green, and eco-friendly have been buzzwords for a number of years, and they don’t appear to be going anywhere. With the focus on healthy, organic living, it’s no wonder that Whole Foods Market has become a popular place to shop. This “green” grocer focuses on organic, all-natural, and locally-grown products whenever possible. The company had a humble start in 1978 when John Mackey and Rene Lawson Hardy borrowed $45,000 from their friends and family to start a small health food store in Austin, Texas. The store, called SaferWay, merged with Clarksville Natural Grocery, owned by Craig Weller and Mark Skiles, two years later and became the first Whole Foods Market.

Only six years after Mackey and Hardy started SaferWay, Whole Foods Market began expanding; first into Dallas and Houston, and later into New Orleans. Over the years, the company has purchased and merged with several other natural companies, including Whole Food Company and Wild Oats Market.

The company now boasts more than three hundred stores throughout North America and the United Kingdom, along with nine distribution centers and nine bakeries, including a gluten-free bakery. The company employs more than 54,000 individuals in its stores, distribution centers, and bakeries.

Although many other grocery stores have started offering all-natural and organic products, their selection is limited since only a small portion of the store is dedicated to these healthy alternatives. Additionally, Whole Foods Market manufacturers its own brand of organic and non-organic products, providing a large selection of affordably-priced, healthy alternatives. The company has come far in its more than thirty years in business, but its goal has remained unchanged — to provide healthy organic products from local vendors whenever possible.