What’s In The Mind of a Whole Foods Employee?

A few days ago, I met up with a friend of mine, Samantha Rodriguez, who works at Whole Foods. We caught up while sipping matcha (green tea) lattes. With her current job at Whole Foods and her personal Instagram filled with photos of food she’s been cooking up, she is aiming to spread her knowledge of healthy and conscious cooking in the wellness community. Now, let’s hear what she has to say about that in the Q&A below!

MT: Hi, Sam! Can you tell me more about what your job is at Whole Foods and what it requires you to do?

SR: My job title is Demo Specialist, and that falls under the Marketing Department. I have several responsibilities that all are aimed at creating “theater” and a fun, exciting experience for our shoppers when they visit Whole Foods Market on Kirby. My first responsibility is to coordinate vendor “demos”, that are conducted by a brand representative. Vendors that supply our products will contact me to schedule a date and time when they can have their rep come and promote their product, either through product samples, giveaways, coupon distributions, etc. I also am responsible for ensuring ample product is ordered to support these demos and to help the reps figure out the best time of day they should schedule their demo so that they get the most exposure.

Another part of my job is that I myself my conduct demos. I am given a list of 30-40 products per fiscal period that I must demo and write reports on. My reports cover product criteria such as how shoppers perceived the product’s packaging design, taste, nutritional information, shelf-life, cost, and more. I include in my report how much product I was able to move and what demographic(s) were most interested in the product.

MT: Wow, that’s pretty diverse. Then, what is your favorite thing about your job?

SR: My favorite part of my job is that I create sales-driving themed events in the store each Saturday. These events are geared at showcasing products that fall into certain themes and allowing our shoppers to have a fun, memorable experience in the store and ideally establish relationships with them and the products we are demoing. One such theme that we had recently was “NonGMO Verified”, where we only promoted products that met had the Non Genetically Modified Organism certification. 

MT: Could you please tell me how you got interested in healthy food? When did it start or have you always been health conscious?

SR: I was raised in a family environment where health was appreciated, however I did not become very passionate about spreading that appreciation until roughly 2013 when I worked at the Southtown Farmers & Ranchers Market in San Antonio. I did this as a Digital Communications internship for my Communication degree at Trinity University. It was at this market that I began to appreciate the value of showing others how to eat wholesome, quality foods that were minimally processed. Part of this internship included going to a local branch of the nonprofit Girls Inc., where I gave a presentation on the Southtown Farmers Market and brought the girls who attended the nonprofit camp free cucumbers and tomatoes. I was horrified that so many of the young girls refused to eat the organic, locally grown produce and called it things like “disgusting”, “gross”, and “weird”. I also recognized that as low-income Hispanic girls these were the individuals most at risk for childhood and adult obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension etc. This was the really the moment where I developed my passion for showing others that eating properly and taking care of yourself is something that should be valued. 

MT: What is your “diet” now?

SR: I’m basically on a vegetarian diet that is gluten free, sugar free and dairy free. 

MT: How does that change the way you or your body feel now that you’ve switched to a diet without gluten, sugar and dairy?

SR: Well, I feel like I have so much more energy now. I wake up feeling rested, my skin cleared up and I began to have more endurance when I run. Since then I have maintained this lifestyle and have realized how drastically it has improved my overall health and happiness. 

MT: Now that you’re working at Whole Foods, how does that help with maintaining the healthy lifestyle?

SR: Oh definitely! I receive an employee discount of 20% off all products at Whole Foods Market, and the company is constantly hosting programs to motivate their employees to practice a healthy, fit lifestyle. During the month of September we had a “Green Trek” competition where we tracked all of our exercise, water consumption and vegetable, legumes and fruit consumption, as well as the days we consumed 3oz or less of meat, and tallied up the points in a smartphone app. There were weekly winners who received store gift cards, prizes, etc., all for just being a healthy individual and practicing healthy habits. This company definitely rewards those who take care of themselves, and that is something I can really respect and appreciate.

MT: You’re definitely one of the lucky ones to be working at a place that fully supports your healthy lifestyle! So glad catching up with you and thank you so much!

SR: You’re very welcome! 

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