Earth Fare Café offers extreme variety of healthful meals

by Molly Reitter

HUNTERSVILLE – Earth Fare Café aims to please.

Earth Fare offers a daily variety of hot meals, such as the chicken scallopini with vegan Italian tomato and caper orzo and vegetarian asparagus with Parmesan vinaigrette. (Molly Reiter/MI Monitor photo)

The diner can truly have just about anything. A pistachio macaroon? They’ve got it. An organic Braeburn apple? Check. Perhaps a plate with chicken scallopini, mashed sweet potatoes and asparagus – or make that orzo. No problem.

The café is located in the front of the Earth Fare supermarket. There is a salad bar, hot bar, pastry counter, coffee bar, deli case, fresh sushi, soup bar, olive and anti pasta bar, hot pizza and a kid’s menu.

Not to mention that you can crack open a beer or uncork a bottle of wine. Or take it to go – it’s all good. But, feel free to stay and surf free Wi-Fi in the comfy front booths overlooking the store or the outside patio.

In 1975, Roger Derrough created Asheville’s first natural store with the name Dinner for the Earth. The store moved to a larger space and was renamed Earth Fare in 1993. In 1997, a second Earth Fare opened in Charleston, S.C. Since then, 25 more stores have opened from Florida up to Ohio.

The stores hold a very strict food philosophy, only selling the very best local, natural and organic foods with no trans fats in the form of partially hydrogenated foods, no high-fructose corn syrup, no artificial ingredients, no dyes and no antibiotics.

“You don’t need to look at the labels,” said store manager Chris Hinson. “We have essentially done the work for you.”

The café offers excellent deals. Every Tuesday is prime rib night, consisting of a slab of hormone- and antibiotic-free beef and two sides for $9.99. Children eat free 4-8 p.m. Thursdays. Up to six children can eat for free with the purchase of one adult meal.

Noelle Pallaria, assistant manager, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and has worked as a private chef. Her background helps answer customers’ questions about items in the café and the store.

“Our customers often have questions,” Pallaria said. “They are the types to really delve into their food choices.”

The store does catering, plus appetizers such as custom cheese or dessert trays.

But you can also find more standard fare as long as the ingredients fit with the food philosophy. For example, Heinz organic ketchup is stocked along with Coca-Cola in glass bottles with real sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup.

The café is often a surprise to even habitual Earth Fare customers. The front booths can be easily missed by patrons heading straight for the grocery section.

But Tony Broone, of Mount Holly, is well aware of the food options.

“I grab something to eat and then do my grocery shopping,” he said. “That way I’m filled up on organic food and not hungry.”

This is just what Hinson likes to hear.

“We want our customers to have options and accessibility in their quest for healthy eating,” he said. “Oh and we also need it to be delicious.”

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