After much anticipation, a new Whole Foods Market grocery store opened this summer in Southwest Orlando. The store is located in the Phillips Crossing shopping plaza at 8003 Turkey Lake Road, at the intersection of Sand Lake Road. Store hours are 8am to 10pm seven days a week. It’s rumored that this is one of the biggest Whole Foods Markets in the country, and those of us in Southwest Orlando feel lucky to have this great resource.
Whole Foods Market offers a wide variety of natural and organic foods. Upon entering the doors, one is greeted with colorful displays of fresh produce. All produce is labeled “conventional” or “organic” and the signs for each item indicate the country of origin, or if domestically grown, the state of origin. For me, it’s important to know where my food comes from. By labeling where in the US the food comes from, instead of just saying “US grown”, it enables me to be a “locavore” as much as possible, and support my local growers within a 100 mile radius.
Other Varied Departments
In addition to the usual grocery store sections like seafood, meats and poultry (hormone and antibiotic-free), dairy, bakery (unbleached, unbromated flour), delicatessen (also hormone and antibiotic-free), frozen foods, pet items, wines, and non-perishables (MSG-free), other notable features include a small organic clothing section, a large bulk foods section, a vast array of supplements and body products, and a coffee and gelato bar. Samples of many different items may be tasted throughout the store. My personal favorite offerings include the flavored rock salts and sugars (who can say no to a sprinkle of vanilla sugar), and the many offerings at the cheese bar. Not sure about a certain cheese? Just ask for a taste, and they’ll hand it over to you on a delicious cracker, also conveniently for sale right there at the counter.
Beyond the typical grocery store experience, one can also enjoy a meal from the hot and cold buffet. Food is charged by the pound, and the buffet offers a number of healthy and delicious selections for meat-eater, vegetarian, and vegan alike. Meals can be taken to go, or enjoyed on the spot in either the indoor seating area, or at a table outside near a fountain with fresh flowers floating in the water. Organizing my picnic dinner for an outdoor concert that night, I chose the vegan wheatberry salad and shiitake sesame tofu with mushrooms, both of which were delicious. There is also a brick oven which produces pizzas, calzones, and fragrant garlic knots.
The “Lifestyle Center” boasts a state-of-the-art demo kitchen with seating for at least 50 people. I recently attended a Raw/Living Food preparation class with Chef Olive that was just fabulous. I learned how to make raw marinara sauce served over raw spaghetti squash. For dessert, a pudding made of soaked hazelnuts, dates, and raw cacao. Absolutely delicious! I never knew raw foods could be so much more interesting than a basic garden salad!
New Farmer’s Market
On November 1st, the store introduced the Sand Lake Farmers Market which is open every Saturday from 9am to 2pm in the parking lot outside the store. Products and vendors include local farm grown produce, handmade soaps, artwork, live plants, clothing and jewelry, homemade natural foods, and much more. Be sure to see the lady with the homemade bean dip, it’s heavenly!