Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sprouts Has Sprouted!

Well hello friends! Long time no blog, eh? I've been desperately clinging to the last bits of summer, trying to soak it all in. But alas, the first days of September mean kids are back in school, fall sports are in full swing and summer is officially over. Here comes the homework, school projects, fund raising, volunteering and the nights of shuttling to practices, classes and games, (and many haphazard dinners thrown together in between). The good news is, I have ample time to myself during the day to recharge for such a hectic schedule...

And ample time to head out to the "Grand Opening" of our new, local grocery store called Sprouts Farmers Market. Based in Arizona, I was told that Sprouts is "sort of like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods had a baby." So with that in mind, I braved the crowds to see what the fuss was all about. And what a fuss it was! Eager shoppers made their way through the aisles like so many bumper cars at a carnival.

Excuse me! Can I get by? Doubtful.

Oh! Did I just run over your foot? Um...that would be yes!

But crowded stores are a great problem in this sluggish economy. And to be sure, money was on the minds and in the conversations of many of the shoppers I passed by. One lady was marveling that her entire shopping cart of groceries cost $46...and that included 2 giant watermelons! Other shoppers were pleased at the great variety of items on sale (including Mahi Mahi for $2 a pound...brought in from Peru) and were busy comparing and contrasting items found here and at their regular market.

Unlike the Bristol Farm's Grand Opening, people were loading up their shopping carts with produce, meat, prepared foods, bulk items and dry goods. Shoppers here seemed to care more about cost, than if the produce was conventional or organic (mostly conventional), or whether the meat was free-range (almost exclusively not). Their Sprouts brand dairy products are made without rBST, which is good, and they also offer raw whole milk, which is becoming increasingly more difficulty to find.

Their wines all cost between $2-$15, which is good or bad, depending on what kind of wine drinker you are, and they also had a modest selection of craft beers. Their dry goods and groceries have a similar selection to Whole Foods but seemed to be better priced, especially with all the sale items available during their Grand Opening. They have a decent variety of breads, cheeses, and prepared foods (lots of Mexican choices), but I could not locate a deli where they slice your meat and cheese to order.

Sprouts' meat department cuts and packages on site, makes their own sausages, and grinds beef, lamb and pork fresh every day. Most choices are packaged and displayed as at a larger supermarket, in refrigerated shelving. At the butcher counter, however, you can only buy fish (mostly farmed and imported from great distances) and marinated/kebab/stuffed chicken and beef.

They seem to offer a huge variety of nutritional and vitamin supplements, as well as soaps, lotions and other beauty products, and they featured many different brands of natural cleaning supplies as well.

I will have to go back once the dust settles to get a better feel, but my overall impression is a positive one. And it's always good to have more choices in the SCV, especially those who offer many of the products I have come to appreciate at health food stores. (And if you're interested I filled up my cart for $75!)

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