My Review of Earth Fare Healthy Supermarket
I had the privilege today of visiting the new Earth Fare Healthy Supermarket located in Carmel, Indiana. After hearing many rave reviews about the store and its philosophies, I was very excited to visit and explore. I was not disappointed.
Before I went to the store, I explored the store’s website. I was very pleased to find Earth Fare has a Food Philosophy page that clearly identifies numerous ingredients the company refuses to carry. If you visit Earth Fare and can’t find a big-name product you use frequently, chances are it contains one of the forbidden ingredients. (Which means it’s a good idea to switch to something new.) You can view the complete nine-page list of banned ingredients here: Boot List. High on their list of banned ingredients are high fructose corn syrup, bleached and bromated flours (associated with thyroid disease and other health issues), antibiotics and growth hormones in their meat and dairy, and artificial colorants/flavorings/preservatives/sweeteners. The company’s commitment to selling whole, healthy foods without harmful ingredients excited me. I couldn’t wait to visit!
I share my perspective below on five different topics common to most grocery stores. Please feel free to share your input on these topics.
The entrance to the store leads you into the produce department. From there, you will pass a nice bulk and coffee section and can wander into the natural health department where supplements and natural body care products are sold, or can visit the grocery sections of the store. The store is laid out well and in a way that makes it very easy to find products. I constantly caught myself wishing the store were larger, as it seemed a smidge cramped. The store wasn’t very busy the day I was there, but navigating through the aisles was a bit challenging even with the low traffic flow. On the positive side, the store’s size makes it easy to breeze in, pick up what you need, and get out quickly and very efficiently.
I was impressed by the selection of goods at Earth Fare. I couldn’t do my normal shopping due to not having access to a refrigerator for several hours, but looked for products I typically buy. I also purchased my lunch (which was delicious) and a few non-perishable items. There was only one item I could not find, but there were ample alternatives available. Although I read the label before buying the alternative product, I felt comfortable knowing I could trust Earth Fare’s food policy to protect me from ingredients I know are harmful. I was also very happy to see a few brands I had only been able to buy online before now. Great bonus!
I was very impressed with Earth Fare’s prices. Every product I looked at was significantly less expensive than what I’ve found at other big box health food stores in my area. Unfortunately, the prices were also lower than what I find in locally-owned health food stores. I try to do as much of my shopping locally as I can, but there are a few products I can only get in a “big box” store. Earth Fare’s lower prices will definitely keep me coming back.
Every single employee I passed or engaged with at Earth Fare greeted me with a smile and seemed genuinely happy to see me. Earth Fare has obviously taken great care to hire staff members who put a priority on customer service, courtesy and friendliness. I asked staff members in the natural health, meat and deli departments some very probing questions. Each person was excellently educated and provided answers that gained my confidence. I was impressed not just with how friendly everyone was, but also with how knowledgeable they were. If I asked a question for which someone did not know the answer, that person quickly asked for my contact info and said he or she would find the answer and contact me. Very refreshing!
I’m pleased to say I easily found a parking space in this store’s parking lot. I had been told parking was a nightmare, but I had no issues. When I visited the bank across the street, however, the staff told me they had to hire policemen and security guards to stop people from parking in the bank lot. The staff said the problem seemed to have stopped, but they were concerned it would return when a new Walgreen’s soon opens in the same lot as Earth Fare. Only time will tell if those concerns were valid. My experience was very positive. The lack of parking probably explains why there are no “cart corrals” in the parking lot. Taking the cart back to the store was an opportunity for a bit of added exercise and was not a problem.
The Only Negative
GMO’s are suspiciously absent from Earth Fare’s list of banned ingredients. The company stance is that they “need the help of the government and producers to pull the trigger” on eliminating GMO’s. (Quoted from their FAQ Page.) This was the only disappointing aspect of my visit. With over 20 years of data and research proving GMO’s are harmful to human and animal health and the environment, and the fact GMO’s are banned in over 60 other countries, waiting on the government seems unwise at this point. My hope is the fact Whole Foods committed to label all GMO products in their store by 2018 and the fact other stores such as Target have committed to carry non-GMO products or are strongly protesting GMO’s will provide ample incentive to Earth Fare to take a much stronger position on this issue. Remaining neutral will prove to be harmful to their business if they do not act soon. In Earth Fare’s defense, 75% of their products are organic, which by definition should be GMO-free.
Have you visited Earth Fare? What was your favorite surprise about shopping there?