Earth Fare

  • 7774 113th St. N, Seminole. (727) 319-0183.
  • 3136 Tampa Road, Oldsmar. (813) 448-9120.

Earth Fare’s tagline is “Healthy food for everyone.” The chain aims to stock food that is free of added hormones, antibiotics, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives and the like. So you know what you’re getting into when you shop here — all of the products should adhere to these designations, as opposed to just a selection. Earth Fare has a sizable meat and fish counter, lots of bulk options and a considerable prepared foods section. The Asheville, N.C.-based chain opened its first Tampa Bay store in 2016, so it’s still growing in this area.

What’s it like?

Earth Fare reads like a mini Whole Foods, with a wide variety of groceries, from produce and bulk nuts to shampoo and specialty cheeses. There’s a salad bar, a sandwich station, a juice bar and a pour-your-own maple syrup and honey area. It’s quite similar to a Lucky’s, down to the red lettering for its logo and large, bold signs declaring the store’s different sections. The stores are moderately sized, with a health and beauty section in the middle, freezer aisles and a large area for prepared foods and a bakery. Earth Fare has a loyalty card you can scan each time you shop for points (you also get points for bringing reusable bags); those points turn into dollars you can apply to a future purchase.

Perks

Earth Fare has a very solid meat selection, with signs in the display case noting where the meat was raised and harvested. The prices are on par with other stores, though sometimes the sales are quite good: Around the Fourth of July, I bought a 7-ounce filet mignon for $6. Similarly, the packaged organic chicken breast is $2.99 per pound, a crazy low price. Earth Fare stores generally do contain enough diversity in products to be a one-stop-shop, and the prices are mostly low enough across the board to be competitive.

Nitpicks

I haven’t been wowed by the produce, especially the fruit selection. And the stores can feel slightly cramped. My most recent encounter at a mobbed meat case was stressful.

Prepared foods

There’s a small salad bar, stations at which you can order pizza and sandwiches, and an array of prepared salads, sushi and the like. There’s also a raw/organic juice bar. One of my favorite things Earth Fare offers is “snackables,” little containers of things like cheese cubes, hardboiled eggs, nuts and dried fruit. A seating area at the front of the store encourages lingering over one of the prepared entrees.

Specialty items

Earth Fare has great sales, especially in that meat department, which is one of the store’s biggest assets. It does the occasional buy-one-get-one-free. Look for special prices on certain items for loyalty card members, like $5 rotisserie chickens. The store does loose whole bean coffee and teas, and that maple syrup/honey station is convenient for when you don’t want to buy a whole bottle. The bulk selection is rather large, too.

Customer service

Customer service doesn’t seem to be a priority at Earth Fare, with staff that has been a little aloof during my most recent visits.

Price check

Milk: $3.99 per gallon

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts: $2.99 per pound

Avocado: $1.25

Statement from the store

“We read the labels so you don’t have to,” is one of Earth Fare’s main mottos, a nod to its Boot List, a list of “bad ingredients” that you won’t find in Earth Fare products. Those ingredients are spelled out in the store’s Food Philosphy, which promises food free of added hormones, artificial sweeteners, antibiotics, high fructose corn syrup and more.

“If the Food Philosophy and Boot List are our constitution, then our more than 2,800 Earth Fare Team Members comprise our enforcement agency, constantly monitoring and filtering ingredients to ensure customers find only the cleanest foods in our stores,” Earth Fare’s CEO Frank Scorpiniti has said.

Conclusion

Earth Fare aims to be your one-stop grocery store, and for the most part it can be. Prices run the gamut: Some are lower than at other specialty grocery stores, while others are the same or higher. I’d shop here for certain things and head elsewhere for others, like produce. The emphasis on clean food is notable, and in keeping with the way consumers like to eat, and shop, these days.