AUSTIN, Texas (January 5, 2009) — Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI) announces that Arctic char, a sweet and mild crowd pleaser often described as a cross between trout and salmon, is now available in stores throughout the month of January. Traditionally featured on fine dining menus, this versatile fish has been virtually unavailable in grocery stores until now.

Whole Foods Market's Arctic char is raised in land-based tanks of ice cold, crystal-clear water that is filtered through centuries-old lava rock by the Samherji cooperative of fish farmers in Iceland.

“Land-based tanks offer excellent water quality control and extra protection against farmed fish escaping into the wild. And they also protect the char from predators,” said Whole Foods Market Seafood Quality Standards Coordinator Carrie Brownstein, who has visited Samherji's Arctic char farms. “The sheer vastness of the Icelandic landscape is absolutely breathtaking. These farmers are working hard to take care of this unique environment.”

Arctic char is light, moist and firm in texture. With its subtle flavor and versatility, it serves as an excellent salmon or trout substitute in seafood dishes for beginner palates, kid-friendly meals, or for at-home chefs who simply prefer a less intensely flavored fish. Delicious sautéed, baked, broiled or grilled, Whole Foods Market's Arctic char lends itself to a variety of seasonings – from herbed butter to spicy to fresh-squeezed citrus. For those tuned into their health at the start of this New Year, it provides a fresh twist for a protein-packed meal chock full of good fats.

“When it comes to flavor, Arctic char is a relatively untapped gold mine. This fish is naturally rich and holds its own under bold seasoning,” said Birgir Össurarson, Sales and Marketing Manager for Samherji . “Our Icelandic farming co-op raises healthy, earth-friendly Arctic char without the use of antibiotics, added growth hormones, or land-animal byproducts in feed. This means that Whole Foods Market shoppers are enjoying not only the best tasting fish, but also some of the purest Arctic char on the market.”

In December 2008, for the second year in a row, Whole Foods Market was named the nation's No. 1 retailer on Greenpeace's Retail Seafood Sustainability Scorecard.

 

The Company's high quality standards for aquaculture, which have made it a leader in the seafood industry, were a major factor in the ranking.  “We are proud to be recognized for our efforts, as we go to great lengths to ensure these products meet our high standards for quality, safety, environmental responsibility, and culinary excellence,” added Brownstein.

For exquisite Arctic char recipes and photos of those recipes, please visit http://media.wholefoodsmarket.com/pressroomr/wf/national/album.aspx?id=12323. Shoppers can also pick up recipe cards in Whole Foods Market stores for more great ideas on how to cook this foodie find, or visit wholefoodsmarket.com/pressroomroducts/njafs.