There's a Publix Supermarket in Marathon, Florida. It's about a half hour drive from here, and requires me to drive up, and back, over the bridge of my nightmares.... the 7 Mile Bridge. I shop there anyway.
If you've followed me for a while, you know I drive my 104 year old neighbor, "Pop," to Marathon for golf once a week. If we don't get stuck on the bridge (I still don't have one of those magic hammers to peck us out of the car when the bridge collapses...), after I drop him off, I will do some errands. This includes food shopping for the inn, as well as for Pop. I explored the Publix in Marathon in depth when I became completely frustrated a few years ago with the market on my island. I was surprised by what I found, in a good way.
Publix is a corporate chain supermarket, but in this particular store, people that work there seem happier than other places I've tried to shop in. I have in fact mentioned this a few times to some people working there who smile and say "hello, how are you today" as they look up from their appointed tasks. It's a nice feeling to be appreciated, both as a customer and as a worker. I have also noticed that this particular store employs some special needs people to do jobs as well. I appreciate that very much, for reasons not really pertinent to this post.
I don't remember the first visit, but I do know that within short order, I met the produce manager at Publix. His name is Chuck. He is a very kind man, exceptionally hard working, and friendly. He goes out of his way to say hello to shoppers, knows people by name, and smiles a lot. I know for a fact his job is not easy, yet he is a great professional in his manner and dealing with people. This goes a VERY long way in my eyes. He stands out so much that I actually wrote to corporate to make sure they know how good a job he does, and how much better he makes my overall shopping experience.
As I began to establish a working relationship with the Produce Manager, I met a few others, including the now-Assistant Manager, who's name is Carlos. Carlos is also an exceptionally hard worker, always going out of his way to help customers, including me. One day not too long ago, we had a good discussion about plant based eating, as he expressed to me his desire to eat less meat. So, we talked about the veg based products on the shelves, and I encouraged him to try a few of the ones I pointed out since I've pretty much tried them all. He was grateful, and basically said he's thinking about these things now that he has a child, and wants to be around for the long haul. Nice!
The organics arrive daily at Publix. I can special order things at Publix. If they don't come in, I usually get a phone call informing me before I might make a special trip up. When they get a better price on something, the savings are passed on to me. Sometimes, they even seek me out to let me know of a special; asking if I'd like to purchase some of it. This is called customer service, something I rarely see in large places. Something I'm very accustomed to in the small places I shop by the way.
The conventional produce section is very large, although there are very few conventionals I buy. Publix sells some vegan meat analogues, non-dairy items like nut milks and creamers, and has a small section called "GreenWise" which showcases natural and organic items. The GreenWise section carries things like gluten free pastas, allergy free chips (never see them anywhere down here, so I notice stuff like that.... ) I buy them by the case from my natural food distributor for my special allergy customers, but its VERY nice to see items like this available to the public easily.
On a recent trip to Publix, I took all these photos for this blog. In doing so, I made a quick new friend in the pasta aisle. Since I had already passed one man 5 times up and down 5 different aisles, by the 6th aisle he said laughing "ok, I HAVE to ask, what are the pictures for?!" and thus began a friendly conversation. I learned he is visiting the area taking care of an elder parent. I learned that where he comes from there are LOTS of giant stores with natural food selections, and that shopping in the Keys is very different than what he is accustomed to. He was surprised that I drive "all the way"from Big Pine to shop in Marathon, but completely understood. When he said something about bacon (it always comes down to comments about bacon, doesn't it?) I eagerly told him to try the Tofurky tempeh offerings in the produce section.... something he had no prior knowledge of and said he'd check them out.
|I like the Tofurky brand, they are non-GMO sourced.|
The smoky maple tempeh bacon is delicious.
Look to the left.... see? Tofurky pepperoni!
Just what the doctor ordered for my vegan pizza!
|Speaking of vegan pizza....|
Publix in Marathon sells premade pizza dough in the cold case that is vegan.
|And, Publix in Marathon offers not one but TWO choices of vegan shreds for said pizza!|
|If a company is going to market foods specifically to children, I'm happier to see|
SpongeBob on hummus instead of candy!
|And, if you want organic hummus, instead of GMO style, here it is!|
Available in a few flavor options by the way.
|They even have guacamole. I'd rather buy an avocado and smash it,|
but perhaps this is a better choice when traveling in a car.
|Publix offers a few brands of natural and organic peanut butters AND|
even has other nut butters.... like this almond butter. Hooray for choice!
|Different brands and different sizes of PURE maple syrup!|
|So.... not only does Publix carry Earth Balance, but they even have|
the soy free version!
|And Vegenaise too!|
|Silk is heavily represented, but there are other|
non-dairy brands like Almond Breeze, and at times So Delicious coconut.
|So far, Silk is the only creamer regularly represented at Publix.|
It's not my first choice. I like So Delicious coconut, and I get it at other stores.
But.... it is nice to have SOMETHING (as my local supermarket
that I don't shop at has NOTHING).
|There are several brands of both instant, and slow cook,|
|There's even this certified gluten free instant oatmeal.|
|Better Than Bouillon is available in no-chicken, no beef, and vegetable.|
And, they also have the vegan organic ones too.
|Several varieties of vegan organic (and conventional) pasta sauces are available.|
This one happens to clearly be marked "vegan."
|Rice and beans are offered in more brands and sizes than Winn Dixie.|
And, there are organic options.
|There are several varieties of Gardein.|
Although they've been getting less and less.
Either they're getting really popular down here, or they're not
stocking as much.
|I like this line of sprouted breads. Some are vegan.|
Publix offers this line of bread, and even English muffins.
|There are a few varieties of "tv dinners" that are vegan.|
When I was in Chicago, I lived off this exact brand of oatmeal bowls for breakfast.
I was in school for 2 weeks.... it started EARLY.
These oat bowls saved me!
|I didn't even know Publix carried this!|
It took every fiber in my being not to buy this.
Peanut butter and chocolate?
So Delicious, you ARE the devil.
|Publix in Marathon carries a decent selection of natural cleaners and home products,|
including the Meyers line and 7th Generation.
This includes paper products too, in addition to their own Greenwise line of offerings.