By Sarah Peters – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
PALM BEACH GARDENS —
A small but growing North Carolina-based grocery chain that bans high fructose corn syrup, artificial fats and similar ingredients will open its first Palm Beach County store on PGA Boulevard Wednesday.
Earth Fare will open 7 a.m. in the Mainstreet at Midtown development just west of Military Trail. The first 500 shoppers will get gift cards for $5 and up, and one winner will get a $1,000 card. The celebration starts 6:45 a.m.
There will be a DJ, free coffee from Counter Culture and an apple giveaway from Allamanda Elementary School Principal Marilu Garcia, along with demonstrations and samples.
The first Earth Fare started in 1975 as a one-room shop in Asheville, North Carolina, known as “Dinner for the Earth,” the idea being that food grown in an ecologically-friendly way is good for Earth, spokeswoman Laurie Aker said.
The name changed to Earth Fare, and the store began opening other locations in the 1990s.
The 24,000-square-foot Palm Beach Gardens store will be Earth Fare’s 44th location and the ninth in Florida, Aker said. The chain spans 10 states, from Michigan to Florida.
Earth Fare CEO Frank Scorpiniti wouldn’t go into specifics on future plans for stores in Palm Beach County, but during an interview with The Palm Beach Post, he said there are several more planned in South Florida.
“This is a very vibrant community. We think consumers here are looking for the cleanest food to feed themselves and their families,” Scorpiniti said of the Palm Beach Gardens area. “There’s a lot of hustle here, a pretty dense population. This convenience helps them out quite a lot.”
A 25-member community advisory board of parents, city officials and medical professionals met before the store opening to help choose the selection of dairy products, grass-fed meat, seafood, produce and prepared food that will be available.
“That really helps us set the table,” Scorpiniti said.
The brand’s “boot list” of banned ingredients includes added hormones, antibiotics, artificial fats/transfats, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, artificial preservatives, bleached or bromated flour and artificial colors or flavors. Even the red velvet cake in the bakery is made with beet juice instead of artificial coloring, Aker said.
There’s an emphasis on local products — local meaning from within 150 miles or less. Bags of Pumphouse and Oceana Coffee are on the shelves, and Funky Buddha beer is in the coolers.
Earth Fare has a partnership with Inland Seafood to get fresh fish, Aker said. The beef is grass-fed, and the sausage is made by hand.
An on-site wellness specialist is available to advise customers on everything from vitamins to makeup. All of the wellness and beauty products are cruelty-free, and some are vegan-friendly.
In its Heirloom Organic Cafe and Juice Bar, Earth Fare says it uses organic fruits, veggies and juices, with no sugar added.
In February, the company announced that it would remove genetically-modified organisms from its Earth Fare brand products.
Does Earth Fare’s approach mean the products are out of a thrifty shopper’s price range?
“There’s truly a little something for everyone’s budget and goals,” Aker said. “It’s all about making healthy eating affordable and accessible.”
If you go:
Earth Fare Opening
6:45 a.m. Wednesday
4925 PGA Blvd.
Gift cards for the first 500 shoppers
Store hours: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
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