Ada’s Nat­u­ral Mar­ket of­fers healthy and tasty choices

RSWLiving - - Department­s - BY GINA BIRCH

De­li­cious and Nu­tri­tious

For decades, Ada’s Nat­u­ral Mar­ket has been one of the best-known places to go in Lee County for health-food items, even through the shop’s many re­lo­ca­tions and man­age­ment changes. In 2013 the store moved once more, un­der the own­er­ship of Heather and Dan Creighton, with Heather at the helm. The new space at the cor­ner of Col­lege Park­way and U.S. High­way 41 was no or­di­nary move; it has been an epic res­ur­rec­tion of a trusted brand dur­ing a time when more and more peo­ple are con­scious of their health and the en­vi­ron­ment.

Ne­ces­sity be­ing the mother of in­ven­tion, Creighton was ex­hausted and frus­trated by hav­ing to visit nu­mer­ous stores for the va­ri­ety of whole­some prod­ucts she wanted for her fam­ily. Look­ing back, she says, “I think our town was re­ally ready for a lo­cal one-stop place to feed their healthy life­style, and that’s what we pro­vide.”

BJ Mer­ket, a med­i­cal skin spe­cial­ist and a long­time Ada’s shop­per, says about the new store, “I’m to­tally blown away. I’m here all of the time.” Not only does she come for pro­duce and sup­ple­ments, but also her fa­vorite fresh smoothie, the Piña Kale-ada, made with kale, pineap­ple, co­conut wa­ter and co­conut oil. Then Mer­ket adds spinach and green ap­ple for ex­tra fla­vor and an­tiox­i­dants.

“We are the only place around that of­fers a 100 per­cent or­ganic juice bar,” says Creighton. She calls the juice bar a “key fea­ture” of the store, along with the pro­duce. Th­ese are the first two ar­eas shop­pers see when they walk through the door.

Most of the fruits and veg­eta­bles are or­ganic. Be­cause pro­duce is sea­sonal and cus­tomers de­mand cer­tain items, the bins do have some con­ven­tion­ally farmed items, and they are la­beled as such. “We try to hold the line with lo­cal and or­ganic,” Creighton em­pha­sizes, “and we do a pretty good job at that.”

That’s one rea­son why Dan Sin­clair shops at Ada’s. “I like the fact that al­most ev­ery­thing here is or­ganic,” he ex­plains, “so when I walk in the door I don’t have to try and find the or­ganic sec­tion or worry about whether it has GMOs in it or what’s go­ing on with the food”.

Or­ganic prod­ucts are la­bor in­ten­sive and tend to cost more. Creighton’s re­sponse: “Food is medicine. If you spend money on good nu­tri­tion now, you’ll be spend­ing less on doc­tor vis­its, medicines, chas­ing the symptoms and the ill­nesses.”

The work­ing mom knows how chal­leng­ing it can be to feed a fam­ily ev­ery night, Creighton says, so “the fast healthy idea was in­ter­est­ing to me.” The deli there­fore has dozens of pre­pared dishes, made with the best in­gre­di­ents from the store.

Ex­ec­u­tive chef Winfield Lentz ex­plains his goal is to pro­vide “items to fit just about ev­ery di­etary re­stric­tion, whether gluten free, dairy free, veg­e­tar­ian or ve­gan.” The kale sal­ads are the most popular.

A salad and soup bar of­fers meals to go or for eat­ing on-site. The mar­ket’s Green Leaf Café has ta­ble ser­vice and fea­tures de­li­cious burg­ers made from grass-fed beef, black beans or mush­rooms.

Lentz is par­tic­u­larly proud of the beef. “More mar­bling means greater fla­vor, only ours doesn’t have the hor­mones, grains and tra­di­tional things used to get that,” he says. Ada’s has a good se­lec­tion of it in the butcher’s case, along with other free-range meats and house-made chicken sausage.

The store puts its own brand on mar­ket-fresh meal kits, prepack­aged bulk items, sup­ple­ments, raw honey and goat’s milk soaps, among other items. It also car­ries many lo­cally made prod­ucts and lit­er­ally thou­sands of gluten-free op­tions, along with ev­ery­day house­hold prod­ucts that are kind to the en­vi­ron­ment.

Ada’s does more than sell health­ful prod­ucts; the staff com­pletes the cir­cle by pro­vid­ing recipes and health tips, found mostly on­line and in monthly news­let­ters. There are also cooking classes, nu­tri­tional seminars, fundrais­ers and wine tast­ings on Ada’s cal­en­dar.

Stores like this can be ex­cit­ing but in­tim­i­dat­ing at the same time. Creighton says, “I see a lot of peo­ple who’ve been told by their doc­tor to lose weight, get healthy, so they come to a health-food store and think it’s a good place to start, but then they walk in and don’t know where to start.”

The staff is knowl­edge­able and help­ful to the healthy-eat­ing novice, of­ten al­low­ing the cus­tomer to sam­ple the mer­chan­dise such as kale, gluten-free cook­ies and raw mac­a­roons. “We’ve got lots of gourmet, de­li­cious things,” Creighton says. “Ev­ery­thing is clean (real food, sourced mind­fully). That is our num­ber-one line we will not com­pro­mise on.”

Just be­cause it’s health­ful, doesn’t mean it tastes like card­board. And eat­ing con­sciously doesn’t mean you have to swear off treats such as wine, ice cream, choco­late and cheese. Be­sides find­ing prod­ucts that are good for your health and easy on the en­vi­ron­ment, that de­li­cious dis­cov­ery is one of the best parts about shop­ping at Ada’s.


From the left: Ex­ec­u­tive chef Winfield Lentz makes sure there are healthy and tasty op­tions for nearly ev­ery type of diet; the or­ganic juice bar is a popular stop for shop­pers.

A col­or­ful ar­ray of fresh pro­duce is the first thing cus­tomers see when they walk into Ada’s Nat­u­ral Mar­ket.

Most of Ada’s pro­duce is sourced lo­cally and grown or­gan­i­cally. The kale-mango salad (be­low left) is one of the many pre­pared foods avail­able in the mar­ket. The meats in Ada’s butcher shop (be­low right) are free of hor­mones and an­tibi­otics.

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