AUSTIN, Texas.  (May 4, 2009) — With a nod to one of the South’s favorite foods, Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI) invites shoppers around the country to enjoy one-of-a-kind catfish that not only tastes sweet and mild, but is also the only catfish raised to meet the Company’s strict aquaculture standards.

Whether they prefer it blackened in a cast iron skillet, pan-fried with a crispy cornmeal crust, or breaded and baked to perfection, shoppers can enjoy this easy-to-prepare, affordable American classic a new way every night of the week.

Carolina Classics Catfish, Whole Foods Market’s farm-partner, is the Company’s exclusive source for farm-raised channel catfish. “Whole Foods Market’s farmed catfish are fed at the pond’s surface, which makes for a clean-tasting, mild fish. There is not a trace of that muddy flavor you might remember from the catfish you caught in the river as a kid,” said Kevin McDade, Whole Foods Market’s Mid-Atlantic seafood coordinator. “Carolina Classics’ process for raising catfish means you get a high quality fish that’s fresh and affordable, and so easy and quick to prepare. They have been a true partner, helping to change the way fish is farmed.”

The North Carolina-based farm is required to meet Whole Foods Market’s strict farmed seafood standards, which happen to be the highest in the U.S. This means that the catfish must be free of antibiotics, synthetic algicides, and land-animal byproducts in feed. On top of that, the hatchery, ponds, feed mill and processing plant supplying catfish to Whole Foods Market are all managed by the same farmer, which offers complete control over the production process and traceability “from pond to plate.”

“We go to great lengths to deliver ‘clean’ catfish, which means making our own feed to ensure its quality, prohibiting the use of synthetic chemicals to kill algae in and around the ponds and managing every step of filleting,” said Joe Stofer, Carolina Classics’ director of retail sales. “Keeping a close eye on each step means we ensure our final product is produced according to Whole Foods Market’s farm standards. Since we taste-test fish from each batch before harvesting a pond to ensure it meets our desired flavor profile, we know it’s 100 percent flavorful.”

When they are raw, catfish have a firm texture that stands up to any cooking method, which makes them perfect for anyone who is new to cooking fish. Once prepared, the boneless, skinless catfish fillets have a melt-in-your-mouth quality. Throughout May, Whole Foods Market celebrates catfish by hosting in-store demonstrations to highlight seasoning and cooking tips. Whole Foods Market’s favorite new catfish recipes include Cornmeal Catfish Fingers, Quick Cajun Catfish, Sautéed Catfish with Parsley and Tomato Salad and Miso-Glazed Catfish with Bok Choy. For these and other catfish recipes, go to For recipe photos, visit

To watch or embed a video about Carolina Classics Catfish, please visit

In December 2008, for the second time in a row, Whole Foods Market ranked No. 1 out of 20 of the nation’s largest supermarket chains on Greenpeace’s Retail Seafood Sustainability Scorecard.  High standards for quality, safety, sustainability and culinary excellence have made Whole Foods Market a leader in the seafood industry.

Whole Foods Market announced its enhanced aquaculture standards in July 2008. Standards already prohibited the use of antibiotics, added growth hormones, preservatives, such as sulfites, poultry and mammalian by-products in feed, and genetically modified or cloned seafood. Additional strict guidelines help reduce potential environmental impacts, require vendor partners to pass an independent, third-party audit that reviews every detail of the standards, farm-to-fork traceability, and prohibit toxic chemicals such as malachite green and organophosphate pesticides. For more information, please visit