Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fresh Market - Mixed Review

Fresh Market just opened a new store last week in my neck of the woods in Peachtree City, Georgia. I avoided the grand opening as I figured it would be a zoo (it was) butt finally broke down and went on Saturday. It was still packed, but not quite as bad as Wednesday's opening!

I will state right up front that you can take my review with a grain of anything except salt as I'm trying to cut back. I make strange eaters look normal. I watch my labels, don't buy anything with any kind of sugar, dextrose, etc., etc. I am also gluten-free and I don't eat meat. Yes, I am more difficult to please than the average weird dieter. It 'fits' for me though and I'm happy with how and what I eat.

So, that said, here's what I found.

If you like meat and fish, they had a great selection. The meat market almost made me want to break down and buy something it was that enticing! I didn't check to see if they had hormone free, vegetarian fed options. Why someone would want to eat meat that ate only veggie is a little strange in itself... but I definitely think if you're going to eat meat it should be antibiotic and hormone free.

The deli looked pretty good. Everything f I checked had gluten or sugar in it so I couldn't find anything to try unfortunately. I'll look again later as I just really didn't want to push people aside to read all the labels. Yes, it was that crowded.

I liked the gluten-free labels they place on the shelves in front of products. They don't label everything, but the labels did a pretty good job of introducing me to some new items. On the down side, they didn't have a single gluten-free bread, which I thought was weird. I asked and they said they'd had a number of requests and planned to add some gluten-free options soon.

I heard some shoppers saying the prices seemed high, but I have a feeling those were your "normal" food buyers. Others said the prices were comparable to other stores. I didn't find that the prices on the items I compared were high. They were exactly the same as Kroger, Sams or Publix on the items I checked, which means they probably do like all the other stores --- they shop the competition and price match.

One thing I liked is the ability to pick up larger quantities. I have been going to Sams to buy a large container of organic baby spinach. Fresh Market had the same size for the same price.

Their fresh veggies looked great! I'll be going back to grab some asparagus. Great way to sell it. I'd have grabbed some but wouldn't have time to cook it so decided to go back.

Let's see, what else? The eggs. I buy, surprise, surprise, eggs that are hormone and antibiotic free, vegetarian fed. Cage free (although stating they're cage free can be kind of misleading, but I'll save that one for another blog) or free roaming if my possible. Their eggs stated "Cage Free Hens, No Animal By-products, Produced without Antibiotics". The label, inside or out, said nothing about hormones. Another shopper asked about the hormones and steroids. The employee went to the back and asked. She was told they were hormone-free. I was kind of leery given the label didn't say that. Who was the 'expert' in the back who guaranteed they were hormone-free? I'm going to visit the Fresh Market site in a few minutes to see if I can find a definitive answer.

Another disappointment for me was the meager sugar-free offerings. I got a little excited (tiny blip excitment) when I saw "Truwhip" next to the Cool-Whip in the freezer section. "Wow," I thought, "Truvia is making a cool-whip". Not. It is a much better option than the blend of chemicals that make up Cool-Whip. It's natural, organic, much, much better. However, it's sweetened with organic cane sugar so it's not on my can-eat-list. Grrrr. If you eat sugar, it's definitely something I'd recommend though.

I wandered over to the snacks. Oh, man, did those things look good. All but one, maybe two, had sugar in them. I bought some roasted pistachios (almost $12 a pound so not something I'll be buying a lot of, but then again, it's hard to eat a lot of them!).

That was my first visit. I will be going back. I'm going to compare more, read a few more labels when it's not so crowded.

They are extremely receptive and I know that over time they'll expand and change what they have to offer. I don't expect them to cater to people who are as nutty as I am when it comes to their diets.

I guess, reading back through my blog, that most would think I was unhappy with Fresh Market. I'm glad they're here. I'll be stopping in often and buying things. However, I will still be shopping at the Dekalb Farmers Market, Kroger and other shops for some items, too.

Almost forgot two finds that made me very happy! I drink PG Tips Tea. Kroger has been the only store locally that carried it. Fresh Market also carries it and the price was the same or maybe a few pennies less. However, Fresh Market carries a large box with 80 teabags. If I buy the big box I can save around a dollar. Guess where I'll be buying my PG Tips?

And, last, and yes, least given that it's kind of an obscure thing - Fresh Market had Wasabi powder. I didn't want the paste or the prepared, I wanted powder and hadn't been able to find it. Fresh Market had it at a very reasonable price. I think on my next visit I'll find even more of those little surprises.

Gee, she writes with an imagined palm knock to the forehead, one more thing that I almost didn't mention and should! They had the friendliest staff I think I've ever encountered in any store. They answered every question, took time to go find things, and were generally very helpful. I stopped at the meat counter to look at a case and had three different people ask if I needed help or had questions - and they were swamped. I hope that the great staff is the norm and not just a grand opening anomaly, 'cause that alone will bring me back again and again.

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