Fresh Fields offers varied natural foods without artificial additives, chemicals

June 21, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff Writer

Fresh Fields, the "good for you" supermarket that opened in Annapolis Friday, will attract at least two kinds of people.

There will be the health-conscious, eager to pay slightly more for products that are kind to the environment and contain no chemicals.

And there will be the cooks, the culinary explorers, curious to make a dish with California kohlrabi, with jicama or Chayote squash or kumquats.

The 25,000-square-foot store is certainly a visual feast, with huge banks of red, green, orange and yellow peppers, 150 cheeses, cored pineapples and fat persimmons.

And there are "earth-wise" products among the household goods: biodegradable, nontoxic cleaners, rosemary shampoo and 15 shades of henna used to "naturally" tint the hair.

It's a mecca for lovers of health food stores.

But not every visitor to Friday's opening was drawn by the exotic variety. Dorothy Hardesty of Annapolis came away with nothing but grapefruit and said she liked the store's "bright, clean look".

"It will take a while to judge," she said. "I saw some things I really don't use and wouldn't know how to use. But I'll see if it's better than a regular grocery store. I always like to try new things."

A young mother walked beside her daughter, each pushing a shopping cart. The woman, who declined to give her name, said the produce was "amazing" but that she thought prices were a little high.

Other customers said they couldn't even look at prices; they could see only the food.

In the bread department, French baker's racks behind the counter were piled high with mounds of crusty rounds.

The deli department stretches an aisle long. The store finishes off with a mini-cafe and an extensive selection of vegetarian and ethnic cookbooks.

Many shoppers said they would come to check out the more natural approach to food. Fresh Fields emphasizes its product-selection criteria. For example, chickens come not from factories but from farms where the birds run free and are fed natural feed, without antibiotics or growth-enhancing drugs.

The store carries food with no synthetic preservatives, artificial colors or flavors and no refined sugar or synthetic sweeteners (no Nutrasweet, white sugar, brown sugar, turbinado sugar, saccharin, glucose, corn syrup or corn syrup solids). There are no hydrogenated oils, tropical oils or cottonseed oil, not even in the baked goods the store makes on the premises.

"We carry no meats and dairy products that have been given hormones or growth-inducing drugs," said public relations spokeswoman Kathy Ordan. "Wherever possible, the store carries food that is organically produced."

No products are sold that have been tested on animals or that contain phosphates or chlorine.

The store makes a big point of supporting growers who use natural methods of pest management and reduced spray programs, applying smaller amounts of agricultural chemicals to their crops than conventional growers do, Ms. Ordan said.

The Annapolis store, which opened Friday at Annapolis Harbor Center, is the 10th in the chain, which has stores in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Store hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

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