Let me start off by saying that I love Earth Fare.
They’re a southern company out of our old hometown – Asheville, NC – and they always carry great products. Earth Fare’s whole philosophy is about eliminating hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, antibiotics, etc. There aren’t a lot of locations above the Mason Dixon line, but there’s one on the west side of Cleveland and, now, a new location in Solon. We were pretty excited to check it out because we always have a great experience, but…
This new one left a little bit to be desired. It was Saturday afternoon and maybe one or two of their sample trays had something for us to try. The people were kind of friendly and kind of helpful, but not super friendly and super helpful. There weren’t a ton of smiling faces and we were really disappointed that, for the most part, when we did ask for help, they weren’t very knowledgeable about their products. I think a big selling point of Earth Fare’s customer service has always been that you can ask them about anything and they not only know where to point you, but can tell you whatever you need to know (whether it’s about food or something in their wellness section). Every other Earth Fare has been so on top of things and I know they’re new and I don’t want to beat them up, but that awesome customer service is what sold us on our first visit to Earth Fare. I just hope (once they work things out) that others will have the same great experience we had and return to Earth Fare.
Now, on to the groceries.
We got some basic, not-so-exciting things like corn, avocados, sweet potatoes, organic tomato sauce, and English muffins. We grabbed a bottle of HRM Rex Goliath Free Range Red for my lady (because she’s become a connoisseur of cheap wines) and a tub of Chobani Greek Yogurt (because, in case you missed it, it’s my new favorite catch-all in the kitchen). Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almond Milk is great to have in the house because it’s so much better than regular milk. I believe that human beings shouldn’t drink milk after we’re weaned off of it as babies, to be honest. As far as I know, there’s not another animal that continues to drink milk after infancy (from its mother or any other species) except for humans. Plus, nowadays milk seems to be riddled with hormones and antibiotics… but with almond milk, you get none of that crap. Almond milk has 50% more calcium than regular milk, no cholesterol or saturated fat, and you don’t have to worry about GMOs or artificial anything.
As for specialty items, we picked up some organic West Soy Tempeh. For those who don’t know, tempeh is a soy product that’s pretty much a less-refined version of tofu. Because it’s less-refined, your body can absorb more of the good stuff like the high levels of fiber and protein. I like to use this particular tempeh as almost like an orzo or rice because of its texture and shape. It’s also great because it takes on whatever flavor I’m putting with it. I’ve used it in traditional salads, pasta salads, and some people like to use it almost as a veggie burger base.
And speaking of tofu, we grabbed a nice, extra firm organic Italian herb tofu. Now, tofu’s a product that makes a lot of people say “eww.” I was talking to a member of my family just the other day about tofu and she said she can’t get past the name to give it a try. The truth is, tofu can be delicious if you know how to use it. Obviously, you’re not going to cut off a plank of tofu, pop it in your mouth and say “yummy!” But when you prepare it right – sliced, pressed, and baked/broiled/sautéed/fried/grilled – tofu is one of my favorite meat-substitute products. And, like the tempeh, it really can take on any kind of flavor – I’m looking forward to marinating it with some of the great oils and vinegars we just got on our trip to The Tree and Vine down South.
Last night we tried the Tofurky Italian sausage and I’ll tell you something – I’ve never tried a Tofurky product before in my life but I was honestly pleasantly surprised. I come from a meat-loving household, but after eating something like this, I see how easy it can be for meat-lovers to make the move to a vegetarian diet. The texture looked, cut, and ate like sausage. It had wonderful sun-dried tomatoes and Italian herbs and, to be honest, you almost couldn’t tell the difference between the Tofurky and a regular sausage.
I dressed it up with some of Earth Fare’s Asian kale salad. It was a freebie purchase (as part of Earth Fare’s text coupon club) and it made a great addition to our little Tofurky sausage sandwiches. Remember, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box with stuff from a prepared foods section – sure, you can eat a salad like a salad, but you can also use it as part of something like a sandwich too.
Last but not least, we grabbed a big bottle of Alo Enrich with cranberry and pomegranate. We got hooked on the Alo Exposed drinks because of the little chunks of aloe in the juice mixed in with other great ingredients (from wheatgrass to honey). People usually think aloe is just great in the kitchen for quick burn relief, but the plant itself – and the juice from it – contains all kinds of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. We recently found out that they have a variety of flavors from Alo Comfort (watermelon and peach) to Alo Appeal (pomelo, pink grapefruit and lemon), so we’ll be on the lookout for them.
Update: as of March 2014, this Earth Fare location shut down before even reaching their one-year mark. If we had to speculate, it probably had a lot to do with the opening of the new Market District grocery store nearby…