This week while vacationing in South Florida, I visted a Publix GreenWise Market Store, a “green” grocery store. Just to give you a frame of reference, Publix is an upscale grocery store located throughout the Southeast. When I lived in Florida, I found that they had the nicest fresh vegetable and fruit selection although pricier than competing grocery stores.
I was intrigued by the concept of a convenient chain grocery store that had created a green grocery store. Would this store legitmately compete with Whole Foods? Was it going to be another greenwashing store trying to jump on the green gravy train?
I spoke to several employees while in the store to gain a perspective about the store. According to the staff, the store was created as a one-stop grocery store for those wishing to buy healthier groceries. Like many of us, we may buy organic grocery items at a health food store or Whole Foods, but still need to drive to another conventional grocery store to obtain staples that we would not ordinarily buy at speciality grocery stores.
Of course, the words, “natural food,” sent a can of Ragu flag waving. I was told that natural foods meant the foods were minimally processed and contain no artifical colors, flavorings, preservatives or sweeteners.
The GreenWise brands stated on their packaging that they contained either natural or organic ingredients.
In addition, the store contains several departments including a prepared meals, wine store, and deli section. The Company’s website provides a description of the types of foods contained in their departments. The prepared foods were not organic and there were no signs saying they were prepared with natural ingredients. However, their deli contained conventional deli meats as well as natural choices such as the Boar’s Head® All-Natural Meats specially developed, according to the website, for the Publix GreenWise Market stores “containing no artificial ingredients, chemical preservatives, phosphates, sodium erythorbate, or MSG. The meat and poultry used for these exceptional products are also raised without antibiotics or added hormones.”
In visiting the wine department, they had a nice selection of organic wines. I immediately recognized wine made by Frye, an organic California wine maker.
In speaking with one of the meat employees, I asked the difference of a particular cost of meat which was a Publix brand versus a GreenWise brand. He estimated perhaps a $2 per pound difference since he did not have exact cuts of the two different brands to compare. I did not see much of a selection of organic meat. The predominant meat choice was the “natural” GreenWise brand. According to the website, the GreenWise brand of meat, poultry, and pork are raised humanely “with no antibiotics or added hormones—ever—on a 100% vegetarian diet.”
My husband is the grocery shopper in the family since he is much more cost concious than me about what we buy grocery wise. I usually am in a hurry and will pick up anything that says organic on the label, and won’t look at the price. He said that it seems that the prices were better than Whole Foods but without doing a direct comparison he was not sure. Our prices in NJ might be more or less than South Florida. If you live in the South Florida area, I would be curious if you find the prices are better at GreenWise.
We visited the store with a friend who was very happy to see that this store carried a particular yogurt that she loves. Prior to her visit to this store, she had to drive around town to find her yogurt. Since she ordinarily shops at Publix, this store would fit her definition of one stop shopping.
Some could coin this type of store as a way to reduce your carbon footprint by reducing the number of places you need to drive to obtain food items on your grocery list. However, I think it would depend on how far you would have to drive to go to this particular store versus the number of other stores. I guess a story in itself!
As we left, I noticed that the grocery bags offered were biodegradable. They even recycle egg cartons at this store.
Perhaps, if Publix can show the rest of the world that this idea works, many other chain grocery stores will open simliar stores to make it easier for people to live a healthier lifestyle.