Tuesday, June 16, 2009

kid in a candy shop

The folks at Earth Fare invited me over for pre-opening tour of their new Bearden store. It's across Kingston Pike from Mayo Garden Center in a building that has been vacant since Bi-Lo moved out several years ago. The "healthy supermarket" opens Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. The first 100 shoppers will get a goodie bag. 5% of store sales and the proceeds from one dollar hot dog and burger sales will go to the Beardsley Community Farm.

A sign in the produce section spells out Earth Fare's food philosophy. Of all the things they prohibit, I'm most pleased by the bans on high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. If they slip up and you catch them, you get a $50 gift card for every banned ingredient you spot. Clerks stocked the shelves and workmen adjusted the fixtures while I was there. Once the store opens, I can picture myself getting lunch at the salad bar or even at the sushi counter.

The bulk foods section offers a variety of trail mixes, snacks and unusual grains. My tour guides, Troy DeGroff and Nicole St. Charles suggested I taste the Carob Peanut Clusters, which were excellent. Later when they left me alone to take pictures and try some other snacks, I was blown away by the Chocolate English Toffee. No wonder it's $20 a pound. Both products come from SunRidge Farms.

Troy offered me samples of some organic foods and the opportunity to compare their labels with popular mainstream brands. Earth Fare's organic peanut butter was good, their organic blueberry conserves were outstanding. I was very pleasantly surprised by an Oreo alternative. The stuff inside Country Choice Organic Sandwich Cremes was soft and delicious. Best of all, there was enough of it. I didn't feel shortchanged.

One of the managers (based on his name tag, it might have even been the CEO) told me that photography is not normally allowed in their stores. Because I was there for a media preview, I was permitted to take pictures. I was reminded of both an upscale grocery store in St. Louis and a downscale store in Knoxville where I was asked me to put my camera away. Fortunately I was able to take a picture of an interesting dispenser for first cold press extra virgin olive oil. I didn't notice until I got home that the "Fresh Grassy Overtones" qualify for ApostropheAbuse.com.

I was thrilled to see my all-time favorite condiment, Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, on the shelf. A brand of spaghetti sauce made me wish my dad was still around. I would have liked to ask him if Rao's Homemade has any connection to the Mr. Rao who lived across the street from us in Crestwood, New York. If there isn't already a band named Hot Pickled Okra & Dilly Beans, there certainly ought to be. I should call WDVX and ask them.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just an FYI, the Kroger's on Northshore Dr. also carries the raspberry chipotle sauce that you like.


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