Thursday, August 5, 2010

Harmony Farms Health Foods Store - Raleigh, NC

Last night Michael and I took a random trip to Raleigh to try the gluten free pizza at Mellow Mushroom. That was the main objective... but even more exciting than the gluten free pizza was discovering all of the amazing gluten free products available at Harmony Farms.

I lived in Raleigh about 8 years ago and I loved visiting Harmony Farms then. I've always been a natural foods  advocate, and Harmony Farms had a great selection of (at the time) hard to find organic and natural health foods. Now, in 2010 the store is has nearly tripled in size and it also has a cafe, which serves gluten free breakfast and lunch. No joke! Fresh gluten free waffles for breakfast anyone?

I can't believe that I never thought to visit Harmony Farms since I started eating gluten free in 2007. They have the absolute largest selection of gluten free foods I have ever seen. Ever. 

They have an entire wall of the store dedicated to all sorts of gluten free foods. And along with that wall are several other aisles and the frozen section, not to mention all of the naturally gluten free items available! Baking supplies. Cookies, crackers, cake mixes, chips, pasta, you name it... they have it. I'm still kicking myself for not taking a picture of that amazing wall of gluten free goodness!

My intent for visiting Harmony Farms was to purchase Udi's gluten free bread. I've heard so many people praising Udi's gluten free bread. "It's just like REAL bread", "It's soft" "It's amazing!" "You'll LOVE it." It's been a recent discussion on the Facebook page. I decided it was finally time to try it see how it compared to my homemade gluten free bread.

A quick review of my thoughts on the Udi's gluten free white sandwich bread:

  • Pros: low calorie, light in texture, to me has a french bread type flavor, is supposed to have a long shelf life. Probably very appealing to kids. 
  • Cons: expensive (but what store bought gluten free bread isn't?), has a strange aftertaste to me, I thought it was very dry, and it's made from all white gluten free starches -- definitely not good for people who are concerned about their blood sugar or diabetes. While low in calories, it is definitely not a "health" food. 

Would I buy it again? If I was going on a trip or just felt like purchasing some "white bread" (which we didn't eat before I was gluten free) I might buy it if it was available locally (not sure it's worth a trip to Raleigh just for white bread). It is a great option for people who are not inclined to gluten free baking, or simply don't have the time.

But I am THRILLED Harmony Farms carries Udi's gluten free bread products, because if they hadn't I may not have discovered all the other wonderful gluten free items that they have in stock. I also would not have met the incredibly helpful & knowledgeable staff of Harmony Farms. These people KNOW and understand gluten free. They even have a sign on the front door saying if you need help with gluten free shopping, just ask at the check out counter. Even Whole Foods doesn't have that kind of customer service.

Just as an example of what I found at Harmony Farms: My favorite Tinkyada brown rice pasta & Ancient Harvest Quinoa pasta, Bakery on Main gluten free granola, Pamela's yummy gluten free chocolate chunk cookies, Mary's Gone Cracker's Sticks & Twigs snacks, AND  Let's Do gluten free ice cream cones... yep!  I could have spent tons more there, but I was trying to limit myself since I had only gone for Udi's bread. Next time I'm taking a budget and a shopping list! :-)

In the past four years I've been to Whole Foods for nearly all of my "local" gluten free shopping. I had no idea what I was missing at Harmony Farms. I would say that Harmony has at least 4x the gluten free selection of Whole Foods. I was utterly amazed. Thank you SO much Harmony Farms!

In the future, all of my Raleigh gluten free shopping trips will be to Harmony Farms Health Foods store.

Have you been to Harmony Farms? Please share about your experience in the comments below!

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