Sunday, July 27, 2008

Why Haven't You Been to Whole Foods?

Is it because you think it's too expensive? Is it because you think it's new age hippie food? I regularly shop at Whole Foods and here's why:

  • The produce is much better tasting than what we get at the typical grocery store. We prefer to get our produce from farmer's markets, but when we can't get there it's Whole Foods for us.

  • The staff is knowledgable. Any time we haven't been able to find something, we ask the closest team member and even if it's not their "department", they will track it down. They may ask other team members, and they will walk with us across the store to find it, rather than just say "aisle 9".

  • The bulk section. This is how we save money at Whole Foods. The bulk section is an entire aisle of rice, beans, grains, cereal, granola, and flours. Anything that we normally would buy in a box, you can find here. So we end up using less packaging, and paying less.

  • The samples. We have gone to Whole Foods on a weekend morning and basically ate our breakfast there. They are very creative with their displays. Some sample tables have someone there explaining what the product is and answering questions. In addition, any time you want to try something, they will let you. We once were at the antipasto bar and Melissa wanted to try some spiced beets before we bought them and the team member that helped us thanked us for asking and enjoyed one with us!

  • The cheese department. Unbelievable. It's a little overwhelming at first, but again, they will let you try anything that looks good to you before you buy. Usually they have a sample of something out with some crackers.

  • The bakery department. We have caprese sandwiches for dinner at least once a week during the summer, so we visit Mike in the bakery department who is always very friendly and slices our loaf of Italian or Ciabatta and sends us off with a smile.

  • The "Bars". The Cranston location has approximately 6 "bars". Some are salad, some are prepared foods, some are desserts. It's a great way to try food you've never tried before. Tofu, tempeh, dolma, tapenade, couscous, spinach pies, falafel... the list goes on. It's also a good way to get ideas. Melissa once saw a quinoa and apple salad that inspired her to go home and make one with the ingredients listed on the sign. It's become a favorite recipe at our house!

  • The brownie bites. It's bad news when these are on sale... we usually buy them. They don't last long! They often have samples of these and it's pretty much the first thing I look for.

  • The health and beauty section. We're really starting to become aware of what we use on our bodies as well as what we put in them. The products in their health section are made with natural ingredients. The Whole Foods 365 brand shampoo and body wash are very reasonably priced, as are most of the 365 brand products.

  • The Bags. This is where we bought our reusable shopping bags. And at $.99 each, there's no reason not to use one. Whole Foods no longer uses plastic bags at their stores. We bought our bags many months ago and they're still in great shape. We just keep them in the trunk. Also, we just found out from a friendly team member at the East Side location that if your bag rips, they replace it at no cost.

I haven't even touched upon the floral section and the meat and seafood departments. If you've never been to Whole Foods, I would suggest making your first trip when you have some time - at least an hour. You're going to want to explore.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

2008 South County Hot Air Balloon Festival

The South County Hot Air Ballon Festival is This Weekend!

July 18 4-10pm
July 19 5:30am to 10pm
July 20th 5:30am to 6:30pm
URI Athletic Fields

Chosen at one of Yankee Magazine's Top 20 Rhode Island Events, the festival is in it's 30th year and features:

Fireworks - Music - Pig Races - Catch & Release Pond
Antique Cars - Pony Rides - Petting Zoo - Amusements - Craft Show

Friday is $10, $3 for children 12 and younger.
Other days admission is $7, $3 for children.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Jaswell's Farm - Smithfield, RI

We took a drive over to Jaswell's Farm in Smithfield, RI today. I wanted to throw some vegetables on the grill for dinner and it was late in the day on a Sunday so we checked Local Harvest to find out what farms in the area would be open. Turns out Jaswell's is open daily from 8-5.

When we got there, we saw a sign that told us that we could pick our own strawberries and raspberries. Melissa loves strawberries and was very happy to see that they offered an option to pick our own off the vine.

We were greeted by Allison, who gave us our container and showed us where to go. She explained that today would probably be the last day, as it was the end of the season, so we didn't expect much. When we got out there, we were happy to see that there were more than enough strawberries to fill our pint.

When we headed back to the stand (which is so much more than a stand... there are all sorts of fruits, vegetables, baked goods, cheeses...), we picked up our squash, corn and peaches for the grill. We also made sure we grabbed a pint of blueberries (which we snacked on driving home!) and a delicious apple pie for later. Their fruit butters are amazing, too and we were sure to get a jar of apple.

Allison and her nephew Paul rang us up and we talked about the documentary "Vanishing Orchards" that our friend Rachel the video editor worked on a few years ago that features the farm.

It's nice to see a family working together and it feels good to buy produce directly from the source. Food tastes so much better when it doesn't have to travel so far.

Jaswell's is celebrating their 110th anniversary. I recommend a visit - take the kids and pick your own fruit! Blueberry season is right around the corner...

Jasewell's Farm
50 Swan Road
Smithfield, RI
(401) 231-9043