Intrepid Girl Reporter

Wednesday, 10/15: Johnson City proves me wrong
October 16, 2008, 5:05 am
Filed under: crunch crunch, Johnson City | Tags: , ,

In today’s crunchy news: 1) Leanne won on Project Runway! Using sustainable textiles, which were beautiful. AND earth-friendly. That doesn’t even seem like an appropriate term to use with fabrics. Earth-cuddly? I like to imagine our planet snuggling up with products that respect her. I realize that this view of Earth fails to take natural disasters and other unpleasantries into account, but I fail to care. I have to admit that Kenley’s clothes were a little more accessible to me – I’m not sure I have the body to make all Leanne’s waves work – but Leanne’s clothes were gorgeous, and the fact that Kenley showed no capacity for reason or empathy rendered it impossible for me to root for her. As for Korto, I think she deserves her own daytime talk show.

2) The Tri-Cities’ first organic supermarket, EarthFare, opened today. Miguk Momma and I headed over there around 1 PM and we couldn’t find a parking spot. We had to circle until someone pulled out. We’ve been hearing rumors of this sort of development literally since we moved here in 2003, so we were delighted to see it come to fruition. It’s about the size of GreenLife, in Asheville, which is where we usually shop for foods unavailable in conventional groceries; it’s smaller than Whole Foods, but not problematically so. They also carry a marvelous array of cheeses and baked goods (two of my favorite food categories) and the most delicious soda currently in production. Thumbs up, EarthFare.

To be totally honest, I’ve always sort of doubted Johnson City’s capacity to sustain this sort of marketplace, because demographically speaking, this is not the ideal target market. Or so I thought. Aside from the fact that the parking lot was mobbed, as previously noted, the store was positively thick with customers: college students, families, men with long beards. And it was a diverse crowd, too, not just the denizens of East Tennessee State University. On cars I saw stickers that said “McCain for America” as well as “Treehugging Dirt Worshipper.” Upon further consideration, there’s a stronger support base here than I initially believed – after all, local food was the reality in this region back in the days of subsistence farming – and I hope it sticks.

Of course, I am a little concerned about Natural Foods Market, heretofore the only local source for quote-unquote whole foods. NFM is a local small business, albeit one that staffs people who name their cats Gaia, and I want to see it succeed. That having been said, EarthFare is about thirty times more user-friendly, it lists the provenance of most of its products, it invites some of their vendors to actually come in and offer samples of their wares (like the guy who gave us apple butter today), it doesn’t carry products with trans fats or high fructose corn syrup, and its yogurt selection is phenomenal. Natural Foods Market, meanwhile, needs to beef up its lighting and widen its aisles. Hopefully I will be able to do some sort of taste-test comparison soon. If either store is reading this, I will happily accept free food to try.