| Green Travel News |
America’s leading natural foods grocery, Whole Foods Market, likes to portray itself as a lifestyle destination. So it should come as no surprise that Whole Journeys—tours that offer foodies “exclusive interaction” with farmers, chefs, wineries, cheesemakers, as well as excursions to indigenous food festivals—debuts this spring.
The first journey, in mid-April, was a hiking trip in Turkey that included a farmers’ market and wine tasting. A dozen more itineraries that range from five days to two weeks are offered this year, including a gourmand’s biking tour in Italy, a walking tour with stops for a biodynamic winery and a cooking lesson in Provence and a hike following the historic tea and horse caravan road in China. Nearly all itineraries fall under what’s being called the “Active Foodie” category, though there is one “Hands-On Cook” trip in Tuscany focused on learning to prepare foods of the region. In the U.S., there’s a locavore’s rafting trip in Idaho showcasing regional cooking and local microbrews. Most trips have a maximum of 16 guests and local guides, and a focus on “forging real connections and long-term friendships with fellow guests and local residents in each destination.”
“Levels of exertion and food experiences vary,” says a Whole Foods press release, “but all itineraries are designed to support local communities, respect the environment and encourage travelers to interact with one another and the destination’s food producers.”
Kathy Dragon, a 20-year veteran of the touring industry, heads up the venture. According to a blog post by Fodor’s, she’s led Whole Foods executives on trips around the world since 1996, and a couple of years ago she got the ear of company co-CEO John Mackey.
“We were hiking together in Scotland,” says Dragon, “and I brought up the idea of Whole Journeys and said I think it’s the right time. We’re all about authentic experiences and rich cultural connections. Why we travel, where we travel, what we do and who we meet while we are there, plus how we share the experiences when we return home, can affect positive change in the world.”