This Whole Foods Kitchen Was Powered By Recycled Cooking Oil

Environmental stewardship is one of Whole Foods' biggest pillars as one of the largest grocery stores in the United States (via Whole Foods). This was taken to the next level when its food manufacturing facility, situated right outside of Boston, was powered with recycled cooking oil up until its closing in 2017. The kitchen, located in Everett, Massachusetts, produced and supplied food items to Whole Foods locations in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and New Jersey.

As Whole Foods now has over 500 stores worldwide, we can see how constantly creating new products from basil pesto to chicken-less nuggets can take a lot of energy. So how did Whole Foods turn cooking oil into fuel? The Everett kitchen was powered by a generator supplied by Lifecycle Renewables Inc., which collected used cooking oil from other Whole Foods locations across the region as well as restaurants in Boston. The company then refined the oil in its Charlestown facility, which then went on to power the 70,000-square-foot Whole Foods kitchen, according to a news release.

Was cleanliness sacrificed for sustainability?

According to the Boston Business Journal, the facility was closed in 2017 in order for the company to "streamline operations." However, the grocery store will "continue to invest in culinary innovation and hospitality to further differentiate our brand, including our in-store venues and our freshly prepared onsite offerings," said Whole Foods spokesperson Heather McCready.

Yet, prior to this announcement, Whole Foods had actually received a notice from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that this kitchen was not adhering to several health codes. These included having listeria in the facility and allowing food to be made under a leaky pipe.

So should the major grocer really take pride in using hyper-refined cooking oil, or LR100, to power its food facility, when in reality, there were other problems at hand? Whole Foods still prides itself as a leader in sustainability and ethics, as it's been consistently awarded a place on Ethisphere Institute's "World's Most Ethical Companies" list (via PR Newswire). Let's hope that the facilities of current and future suppliers of the brand encapsulate both of these values.