We have all heard concerns raised by activists and some politicians about the problem of food deserts in the USA. Many communities lack a local grocery store or market. I am lucky to live in an area where I am spoiled for choice. Some of the highest rated grocery chains are nearby.
There are several weekly markets within a short drive; however, due to the hot weather and tourism, these generally operate between Fall and Spring. Many markets have become overrun with small vendors that sell tourist gift items rather than food.
For quite some time I have heard how a locally owned small chain of stores offered wide variety, great prices and healthy choices. The patriarch was himself a farmer who came to our area after meeting his wife. Here they raised a family and started a market that has grown to six stores since the early aughts. They adhere to the Mennonite faith, so the market has many Amish products. I had been told the quality of the food offered at their establishments was higher than at my local chain stores.
So, in keeping with my self improvement focus of the past few weeks, I headed off with a friend this past Saturday afternoon to discover Detwiler’s Farm Market in Palmetto, Florida.
The drive south took less than thirty minutes – which for my area is excellent. And I may have been imagining it, but the faint sound of angels singing greeted me as I approached the building. It was busy, as they are not open on Sunday, and the front porch full of rocking chairs was packed with people enjoying Yoder’s ice cream which is sold inside. Old fashioned produce bins lined the walk in front of the store with the scent of strawberries wafting through the air.
When we stepped through the doors I was taken aback by the huge produce section. It was larger than the small Publix near my home. My friend had been here before and was instrumental in keeping me focused. There were fruits and vegetables you just don’t find at the large chain grocers. Obviously, they had items sought by the Latin and Asian communities in the surrounding areas. There was a half dozen types of sweet potatoes, mushrooms, oranges – and on and on it went.
The seafood section was more extensive than some fish markets here on the Gulf coast. Towards the end of the afternoon, they began announcing price reductions on seafood. The founder had been a farmer and butcher, and that is reflected in the meat department. Again, prices and quality beat the chain and discount stores by far.
I usually purchase cheese at an Italian market but found a few new items to try in the extensive cheese department. And the bakery…did I mention the bakery?
For those who are looking for wellness items you have not been forgotten. They have a section dedicated to health and wellness as well. Paper goods and cleaning supplies are also available, unlike many “health food” stores that either do not carry those items, or if they do, only a small pricey selection is on offer.
So, what did I learn in my three hour tour? I learned that I could take a short drive and enjoy a couple of hours exploring this local market and for a very reasonable price have all the staples I need as well as some new treats to try. Variety is the key to sticking with anything, and eating is no exception. My Mediterranean Fasting Lifestyle journey has found a new and very successful path to be followed!