Earth Fare: A Gluten Free Fair
The 36th Earth Fare opened March 25th in Morrisville at the Park West Shopping Center, following the success of their 10 year old Brier Creek store. Based in Asheville, this eco-friendly grocery shop is spreading throughout its home state of NC and beyond.
Its popularity starts with its mission, to “Connect communities and improve lives through food.” Unhealthy ingredients are banned at the loading docks by mangers with a “boot list.” Some of these non gratis ingredients include artificial sweeteners and coloring, trans fats, high fructose syrup, GMOs and synthetic hormones. It is especially friendly to gluten free diets.
One particular group of customers they provide a big service to is the gluten sensitive or gluten intolerant. There are an estimated 1.8 million people in the USA who suffer from Celiac’s disease, a genetic disorder that prevents the body from breaking down a common protein in wheat and other grains. That 1.8 million does not include those with gluten sensitivity or wheat allergies, each commonly mistaken for one another. Earth Fare stands out as a champion for those who are gluten intolerant.
Don’t worry if you’ve never seen one, the Morrisville store is only the 9th in the state and the 2nd in the Triangle area. That’s fewer than another home-grown niche grocery store gaining popularity in the area, Trader Joe’s. Although the two stores may carry similar products and have similar attitudes towards unpronounceable ingredients, Earth Fare takes it one step further.
Taking a page from Asheville’s reputation for healthy cuisine, Earth Fare supports local economies by buying from local farmers and companies when possible. Their products are exclusively organic, and use no Genetically Modified Organisms. Earth Fare also markets products of developing countries through the Fair Trade Act, like coffee, and supports Earth’s ecology and endangered species by recycling. According to their website, the food they sell is “as close to the ground as it gets.” That’s an impressive feat.
Other local health food stores, including Trader Joe’s, provide a list of gluten free foods and items for customers to find on their own. They warn that ingredients may change, so customers need to check the labels if there is no gluten free emblem on the packages. Food products normally considered to be gluten free sometimes have changes made adding gluten to their products. Competing stores recommend reading the ingredient labels and “When in doubt leave it out.” At Earth Fare this chore is unnecessary.
“In most stores you have to read all of the food labels to find out which items are gluten free. Earth Fare has a big selection of gluten free items grouped together and clearly marked.” – Janet Kangas, gluten sensitive customer
Earth Fare has multi-shelf sections on several aisles adorned with vertical red signs declaring “Gluten Free,” causing the gluten free products to “stand out in the crowd.” Some of these segregated products are breads, bread products, baked goods, chips, baking necessities and pastas. There are also labels on everything gluten free. For the gluten-conscious Triangle foodie, Earth Fare is an essential.
“Imports and gluten free” can be clearly read above one refrigerator filled with beer. Beer is a wheat-based product, so it’s an especially impressive find. A red sign embellishes the door for the frozen entree section, too. Since frozen entrees may have gravy made with grain products, these designations are vital. You can also find gluten free skin and hair products for those who can’t come into physical contact with it. Very nice.
Kelly DeLaire, owner of Foods Simply Fresh, buys only food that are “organic, locally grown products and definitely with no GMOs.” When asked her opinion of Earth Fare, Kelly commented “This store has an incredible variety for a small store. Coming to a place like this where you don’t have to weed out anything before you buy it is really neat.”
The Morrisville store has a lot going for it, and hopefully Earth Fare’s niche will become more popular as time goes on.