Thursday thoughts: Earth Fare 101
Posted September 2, 2010 11:07 p.m. EDT
Updated October 3, 2010 3:26 p.m. EDT
In the past few months, I have received many questions about finding affordable organic and natural food products. In the Triangle, we are fortunate to have a number of choices for these types of foods. Because I live in Johnston County and work in Cary regularly, I tend to shop at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods for items including tofu and my favorite Trader Joe's organic tomato soup. Recently, though, there has been a lot of buzz about Earth Fare, located in the Brier Creek Shopping Center in North Raleigh. Not only do they offer a wide variety of healthy options, they also have a commitment to helping the community make good food choices. They educate customers through a number of generous programs and high value coupons to encourage folks to try the healthy products they carry.
I decided it was time to find out more about Earth Fare so I spoke with Maria DiLalla, the Community Relations Coordinator for the Earth Fare in Raleigh.
A little history: Earth Fare began in 1975 in Asheville, NC and was originally called Dinner for the Earth. There are now 19 Earth Fare locations in 5 states employing over 1200 people.
What makes Earth Fare so special? I asked Maria what makes Earth Fare unique. She said that the answer was 2-fold. First, their food philosophy was more strict than other health food grocers in that they will not allow foods with certain ingredients to be sold at their stores. They don't sell any products with high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, artificial colors, synthetic growth hormone or unnatural sweeteners. Second, she noted that Earth Fare is doing a lot to address the childhood obesity epidemic including a Family Dinner Night every Thursday night where kids eat free. To encourage kids to eat healthier choices, Earth Fare is offering free meals to kids 12 and under with an adult purchase of $5 or more. They will allow up to six (yes, SIX) children to eat free with one adult purchase of $5 or more. As Maria pointed out, up to 7 people can eat dinner (1 adult and 6 kids) for $5! Each kids meal comes with an entree, side and a drink.
What is up with all the great coupons? Earth Fare has been offering some fabulous coupons lately including the current coupon for a FREE pound of ground chuck with a $5.00 purchase. Click HERE for the Free ground beef coupon. Maria explained that these coupons are their way of continuing to encourage folks to try new, healthy options in an affordable way. There are a number of ways to receive these coupons.
Coupons on the website: Go to the Earth Fare website HERE, click on Healthy Savings, then click on Crazy Good Coupons. You can print any of the Earth Fare store coupons to use at your next visit.
Coupons in your inbox: Click on My Health Journey HERE and join the Health Journey to receive a number of benefits including coupons, of course as well as food freebies, exclusive invites to Earth Fare events, healthy recipes and a free pantry makeover. The makeover involves bringing in those items with specific unhealthy ingredients and having them replaced, for free, with the Earth Fare healthy equivalent. Some of the qualifying items include peanut butter with hydrogenated oil, salad dressing with high fructose corn syrup and jelly with high fructose corn syrup. Even if there are only a few tablespoons left of the trade-in item, you can still trade it out for the Earth Fare healthy option.
Does Earth Fare offer any other promotions? Maria told me about their Cutting the Bag Habit promotion which involved eliminating all plastic grocery bags from their stores as of April of this year. When you bring in a bag to reuse, Earth Fare donates 5 cents to their Friends of Earth Fare Program. The program supports local organizations including the Boys and Girls Club of Wake County. You can also score a free insulated lunch tote when you take the Healthy Lunch Challenge.
Any plans to expand in the Triangle? Since I live too far from the Brier Creek location to frequent the store, I am especially interested in seeing an Earth Fare open in Cary or Garner. Unfortunately, Maria indicated that no other stores were currently in the works for the Triangle.
How do the prices compare? As most savvy shoppers know, organic and health food products can put a major dent in your grocery budget. Specialty health food stores are generally going to be more expensive than traditional grocery stores, especially when you are buying organic products. With that said, when comparing Earth Fare to the other health food grocers, they definitely offer some very good buys, especially when you use the store coupons. In some cases, Earth Fare offers sales and coupons that match or beat traditional grocery store prices. I recommend a site called I Heart Earth Fare.com which lists the weekly and monthly Earth Fare sales and matches them with store and manufacturer coupons.
I am planning to do a video for the blog at Earth Fare in the next few weeks where you'll see me do the Pantry Makeover and snag my free insulated lunchbox. I can't wait to see what store coupons are available then! Clearly, there are some great deals, healthy products and serious community awareness going on at Earth Fare. My only wish is that they extend that community awareness into opening a store in south Raleigh/Cary so the other half of the Triangle can live the Earth Fare life!
Any Earth Fare shoppers out there? What are your favorite products and deals from Earth Fare?