If you’ve driven past the Shady Oaks Shopping Center lately, you may have noticed construction and a “Coming Soon” sign for Earth Fare—the newest grocery store to arrive in Ocala, opening on April 19.
Asheville, NC-based Earth Fare has been leading a mission to bring healthy food to everyone for over 40 years.
“For us, it’s very simple,” said Earth Fare President and CEO Frank Scorpiniti. “Healthy food improves lives, and our entire team is passionate about providing communities with better access to healthier, affordable food.”
The Ocala store marks the fifth store in Florida and the second location in Central Florida after opening their Gainesville store in 2015.
A Food Philosophy is Born
It’s easy to question the authenticity of terms like “healthy” and “natural” these days, but Earth Fare is the real thing.
The roots of their Food Philosophy started more than 40 years ago in a tiny storefront in Asheville. The modest shop offered a simple selection of bulk foods and wellness items. It was the town’s first natural food store, and it had an ambitious mission: Let people take control of their health with real food.
Earth Fare grew from a storefront into a full supermarket at a time when convenience and cheap food ruled and artificial ingredients were on the rise in the food industry. The need to better define “real food” became apparent. In 1993, Earth Fare rose to the challenge and began to define its Food Philosophy, starting with the ban of hydrogenated oils.
The boldness of the Food Philosophy worked—it turned out that people didn’t want to eat fake ingredients. Over the years, the company’s philosophy evolved to include: high fructose corn syrup, artificial fats and trans-fats, added hormones, artificial sweeteners, bleached or bromated flour, antibiotics, artificial preservatives and artificial colors and flavors.
“We are very proud of how unique our Food Philosophy is,” said Earth Fare’s Chief Merchandising Officer Justin Jackson. “If you applied the same list of banned ingredients at a conventional grocery store, the shelves would be nearly empty.”
Although no one has accepted at the time of publishing, the company recently offered to help competitors come clean by sharing their comprehensive “Boot List” of dirty ingredients.
The Boot List
Shopping at most grocery stores these days isn’t as simple as picking up your favorite items. With so many hard-to-pronounce, artificial ingredients on the labels, it’s easy to walk away confused. At Earth Fare, they read the labels so you don’t have to. This list of banned items regulates its Food Philosophy and has grown to include over 100 ingredients, which you can find at earthfare.com/BootList.
A Healthy Assortment
With so many banned ingredients out of the way, Earth Fare has plenty of room for healthy food. Front and center of the store is the produce department, naturally. According to the company, 70 percent of the produce department is Certified Organic, which is more than any other supermarket in the industry. A commitment to organic and non-GMO is evident throughout the store. In fact, all 500+ private brand food products are made with only non-GMO ingredients.
The store boasts over 4,000 additional non-GMO items storewide, with over 1,000 gluten-free products, and a wide assortment to meet other dietary needs as well. The meat and seafood department carries an impressive array of grass-fed meat and 100 percent sustainably sourced seafood. In fact, if they don’t have the catch you’re looking for, they fulfill custom orders within 48 hours.
Just shy of 30,000 square feet (a big jump from their first humble 1,200 square foot storefront), the Ocala Earth Fare also includes a full service Heirloom Organic Café, featuring all organic juices, smoothies and coffee. If grab and go is more your speed, an extensive prepared foods department awaits, with an organic salad bar, fresh hot bar, and ready-to-go packaged meals. (Insider Tip: The store offers $5 Whole Roasted Chickens every Monday!) Last but not least is the bakery with a gorgeous array of fresh-baked goods, including traditional French macarons, a 98 cent organic baguette and several artisan bread options.
Best of all, Earth Fare offers this wide array of healthy food at an affordable price, with even more savings available through their Healthy Rewards loyalty program and a Weekly Email Flyer.
“The Ocala community deserves a place where they can shop for their families confidently, knowing that their carts are full of only the healthiest, tastiest foods at a price they can afford, and we are thrilled to provide that confidence,” said Frank Scorpiniti.
Visit Ocala’s first Earth Fare, opening April 19. Open 7am-10pm daily.
Shady Oaks Shopping Center, 2405 SW 27th Avenue #101, Ocala.