When I first moved to the Bay Area of Northern California from Kitchener, Ontario, I left behind all of my beloved cute, independent health food stores. I didn’t even realise how spoiled I was having them around – they carried everything I needed from organic fruits & veggies to supplements to great vegan foods. Whole Foods was an hour away and we only went a few times a year as it was a trek and soooo expensive. Whole Paycheque???? Haha.
When a friend mentioned I check out Sprouts, I was excited. It sounded like the cute store I was looking for. Sadly, I was incredibly disappointed. I found the store lackluster, not having any personality and it didn’t have anything I was looking for. For the first two year we lived here, I got all of my staples at Whole Foods. I find Trader Joes ok, but it doesn’t really float my boat.
This past summer we moved closer to a Sprouts Market and I was told to give it another try. And damn if it didn’t have a whole bunch more stuff!
I noticed little things, like my favourite brand of gluten-free noodles (Tinkyada) and Daiya cheese when I first started shopping in the fall. I still get all of my fresh produce from my local Farmer’s Market, but need my grains and such from an actual store. I got what I could from Sprouts, which is a short bike ride and then drove my car on over to the closest Whole Foods. A month after I started shopping there, I noticed they started selling my beloved So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Yogurt before Whole Foods!
I still had some pet peeves with them. They were lacking in bulk things and nut butters and if I went during “peak” times, the lineups were ridiculous. But a few months later as I sit and write this post, they have become my go-to store.
They have the best organic apples around! Just two weeks ago, I asked if they would consider carrying my fav almond milk (Calafia) and it showed up in the cold section last week! Every time I go in, I see more and more things. Their bulk section has improved, and the vegan & gluten-free options are growing tremendously. I have this favourite jar of pasta I like and a too large jar of it at Whole Foods was way too expensive unless it was on sale. I was actually annoyed that the jar was so big, I prefer smaller jars as I want to just eat it over the course of a meal or two, not four. And wouldn’t you know, Sprouts offers a smaller jar at a fraction of the price.
It’s really helped my budgeting. And I honestly would prefer to get all of my groceries by walking or biking (like most things!). Oh and if you happen to feel indulgent – they carry Steve’s ice cream. The Dark Chocolate Salty Caramel is my fav (just make sure you get the non-dairy version as they have two kinds!). They aren’t an independent store, they are a chain, but they are at least cute. And recently I’ve noticed they are really trying to carry more variety in their stores and they have more staff on hand to help out with questions and purchases. They have great customer service and believe in sustainable sourcing & ethical purchasing. And I love that they compost in an effort to reduce waste.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love Whole Foods and always will. They totally rock. But they aren’t getting my whole paycheque anymore ;p
What stores do you go to score your favourite things?