We finally got a Whole Foods Market in our little area of Pennsylvania. Finally. Even though I live in the birthplace of Organic in America, and Whole Foods was launched in 1980, it took 36 years for it to find it's way into my regular food shopping range. As you can imagine, since I cook from Scratch a LOT, I am a very serious food shopper. It's not unusual for me to shop at three stores in one day. And a farmers' market too if I can. But there is always one place I go first, and that's a little Mom and Pop place called Healthy Alternatives.
It's unassuming to the uninitiated...a neon sign in a strip mall. Smaller than a vintage McDonald's. Smaller than the cheese section at a fancy Whole Foods Market. But its heart is big. They have one small produce section. But every single thing in that produce section is 100 percent organic and often local. More important, everything in that produce aisle is impeccably fresh and delicious. I don't have to sort through all the signs to figure out what is organic or conventional or whatever other designation exists these days. I don't have to feel like a second-class citizen sorting through remnants (one of my local grocers always has huge empty spots in the organic section, even though it's ¼ the size of the other sections).
Healthy Alternatives has other stuff too. All the important stuff. And a small but MIGHTY vitamin and personal care section with a resident expert who can help you with almost any situation. She knows her stuff! And you will often find her patiently helping and explaining herbs and supplements to people who have clearly come to Healthy Alternatives because they have finally realized they need to take their health into their own hands and find their own solutions. Alternatives, if you will.
It's not unusual to find the whole family working at the store, including the grandkids hanging out up front while their mom cooks in the delicious café, Santosha. So I was worried about how they would survive with a Whole Foods Market opening up about a mile away. And I confess, I checked it out. I bought stuff. But for me, nothing compares to the produce I can find at Healthy Alternatives...except maybe a farmers' market at the height of summer.
I am grateful to Whole Foods Market for changing the whole food shopping experience for everyone, and for inspiring stores like Wegman's that fill the gap and sell organic produce and products. But I'm still starting out at Healthy Alternatives to support my local small businesses. Then heading over to Whole Foods Market and Wegman's for the other stuff.
Support your local small businesses. Support the Mom and Pop family businesses. Support true quality and real organic food. Support the healthy alternatives in your town. And stop by the original Healthy Alternatives in Trexlertown, PA, if you want to see for yourself what the good stuff looks and tastes like.
Maybe I'll see you there!