One week ago today, I had the most amazing tour of a grocery store. That’s right. A grocery store. With all the recent hype around the word “organic,” it certainly was interesting to discover this grocery only provides organic and conventional (all-natural) edibles, as part of their Food Philosophy. I had the privilege of experiencing the grand tour of the entire store, and I owe my special thanks to Emily, my tour guide and supplier of bountiful information, for inspiring me on my quest to model my own food philosophy after that of Earth Fare’s, located in Centerville, just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Dayton. Earth Fare believes we should bring our food back to its natural beginnings, as well as support fair practices and local farmers.
Earth Fare’s claim to fame is their Food Philosophy, “the strictest in the world, as far as we know,” explained Emily. They have what they call the Boot List, which is a list of ingredients they don’t allow in any of their goods being sold. The first list on the item—no high fructose corn syrup. “It’s literally made by a chemist in a lab,” explained Emily, “and because it’s so cheap it’s used in a lot of products.” They do, however allow corn syrup because it isn’t as processed. They also don’t allow any antibiotics or hormones in their fresh meat or dairy. “Fifty, or even twenty, years ago, antibiotics weren’t used in meat or dairy, and now people are growing antibiotic resistant” since they are regularly ingesting antibiotics through the food they eat. Emily explained that it’s even been linked to young girls starting puberty years earlier. Another ingredient they have given the boot is any type of artificial sweeteners. Aspartame, in particular, is relatively new so they don’t know the long term effects, though it has been linked to ADD and ADHD, and actually was developed in a lab by accident as a substitute for bug spray. To think that we are ingesting chemicals and unnecessary antibiotics is beyond scary to me, and Earth Fare is focused on bringing us far from this risk to our health and back to nature. To see Earth Fare’s complete Boot List, click here.
Along with this Boot List comes the Boot Challenge. Every month, Earth Fare posts a new challenge on their website as a way to educate the public about what they are putting into their bodies. The website asks you to choose between two different products with their ingredients listed as to which one you would “give the boot.” This month, the challenge is focused on cough drops and lozenges. After taking the challenge online, you receive a coupon that allows you to “receive a free box of Jakemans Throat & Chest Lozenges when you trade in cough drops with artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners” FOR FREE. Earth Fare understands that shopping healthy is a little more expensive, but with their help, people become educated as well as healthier one product at a time. Emily even explained that you could bring in an empty box of these artificial cough drops and still receive a replacement, without costing you a penny. Now, that’s a commitment to education and healthy living.
The second major aspect that sets Earth Fare apart from any other grocery is the fact they primarily buy local (within 100 miles). This way, they support the community and local farmers, who, after all, “make food go ‘round.” Earth Fare always has a supply of fresh fruit and vegetables grown within the 100 mile radius. Shopping local not only helps the economy, but is also a way to educate shoppers about where their food is coming from. Speaking of local, what could be more local than cooking their own goods in house? Earth Fare makes all of their prepared food fresh every day, including pasta salad, pizza, and sandwiches to name a few. They even supply fresh sushi every day. Anything not sold is given away to food pantries, once more supporting locals.
Earth Fare does have some very unique supplies, some from areas around the world, which also adhere to their food and fair practice philosophy. One very unique meat they supply is bison, which is the only red meat approved for heart patients. They also have an olive bar, which is something I, personally, had never seen before. You know what goes great with olives? Cheese! Being one of my favorite foods, I was amazed at their selection from around the world; a “Cheese Key” is even available to find out which country supplied each specific cheese. Earth Fare also houses coffee from different parts of the world, but all of their coffee is fair trade, meaning they make sure their farmers are being supplied with good wages and no sweat shops are involved. As Emily explained, Earth Fare finds it important to “put support behind fair practices.” And this fair standard carries over to how they treat their customers: gluten-free products are carried throughout the store, distinguished by the wooden shelves they sit upon. As explained to me, the designers of this grocery store felt that people who needed to shop gluten-free shouldn’t feel singled out by having to go to their own secluded section. And as far as gluten-free products, Earth Fare carries a HUGE selection, with wooden shelves making up a part of almost every aisle down which we walked. A few other interesting products Earth Fare is proud to manufacture and supply to their customers include their own diapers, dog food, cleaning products, and makeup!
How spectacular is this place? They are concerned with the education and health of their customers, the support of local farmers and fair practices, and they supply items you would never see in any other big name grocery store. But do you really want to know one of the best aspects of Earth Fare? The customer comes first. Always. They genuinely care for their customers. As I walked through the store, every single employee smiled at me and was more than ready to help. Along with caring, they understand those that buy their supplies. Shopping healthy can be expensive. There’s no doubt about that. But that’s why Earth Fare offers something free every single week. This week I visited, they were giving away a free pound of grapes, no strings attached. The week before that for Thanksgiving, they were giving a dollar off every pound of turkey. They also have coupons posted throughout the store, so you don’t have to go shuffling through the newspaper in order to save. They give you the means to save money at your fingertips. And you can visit their website to sign up for deals, too! As Emily explained, “when you sign up, you get a free whole chicken or veggie burger.” PLUS, there are green tags located throughout the store, representing all the money you can save on those items, too. And don’t forget the Boot Challenge, aforementioned. Earth Fare understands it’s difficult to spend a lot of money to eat healthy, so they do all they can to help make it as affordable as possible.
One last thing I loved about Earth Fare? They are big on sampling. You can sample anything. Once again, it’s all about the customer. They want you to be happy with what you are buying, so why not make it easier and find out if you like the product in the store before you buy it?
So take a second to examine your own food philosophy. Do you really know where your eats are coming from? Most importantly, is your health paying the price because of hidden artificial ingredients? Earth Fare’s page, Be Inspired, is a space occupied with stories of lives forever changed with the help of Earth Fare and eating naturally. So maybe it’s time for all of us to be inspired. Make your next grocery trip to Earth Fare or join on Thursday nights between 4-8 PM for Family Dinner night, where up to six kids eat free with the purchase of one adult meal. Experience the difference. Observe that you can eat healthy without sacrificing taste or robbing your wallet. Realize that you deserve the very best—in service, in health, in life.
Earth Fare is open Monday through Saturday 8AM-9PM and Sunday 9AM-9PM.
You can also contact them via phone: 937.436.3556