Friday, July 22, 2011

Owner’s Appreciation Weekend at Ozark Natural Foods

Although we live in Bella Vista, our work takes us into Fayetteville quite frequently.  So my wife and I decided to become members at Ozark Natural Foods.  Although there are plenty of natural foods stores in Northwest Arkansas, Ozark is the largest.  Every so often they have an Owner’s Appreciation weekend.  It’s a chance to get some nice discounts, sample foods and interact with other members.

We hadn’t even remembered that the event was taking place this weekend of July 16-17, but it was obvious just driving by on College Street that something big was going down.  Once inside the place is more packed than we have ever seen it.  People from all walks of life, with a variety of agendas, have decided to converge in this building that suddenly seems much smaller than ever before.  I see people whose grocery carts are overflowing with discounted can goods, and microscopic lists that turn them into shortsighted assassins.  For every budget driven angel of doom, there are several casual shoppers like us that just want to experience the atmosphere and pick up a few of our favorite snacks.  Then there are gawkers just coming in to see what the commotion is all about.

Since I am an ovo-lacto vegetarian, Ozark Natural Foods is a nice place for me to pick up some items that are not readily available other places.  I start by getting a piece of vegetarian pizza to go.  My wife picks a cherry almond scone.  The pizza slices here are quite large for the $3 price tag, and one of the few really good deals they have on prepared food.  They also have a deli, burritos for people of most every dietary persuasion (carnivorous, vegetarian, vegan, etc.), a full salad bar, and a hot table with entrees that vary from day to day.  This is why we usually come, and such is the case today.
But it is hard not to be seduced into the carnival atmosphere.  I pick up some Yves Veggie Dogs, which are hard to find anywhere else in the area.  There are dozens of items either on sale for members only, or discounted if you have coupon books that they hand out at the Customer Service desk.  I assume that these are for non-members as well, since I do not have to show my card to receive one.  The Fantastic Foods section has numerous items discounted.  I decide to try the Taco Filling, which comes in a box, and needs to have water and oil added to it.  It says you can also use it as a burrito filling.  Unfortunately, the falafel is not discounted.  You can buy it in their bulk bins at very reasonable prices though.

Next we wander to the ethnic foods section, and particularly the Indian foods section.  The Tasty Bite entrée packets are nicely discounted.  Since we have tried a Tasty Bite product that we liked in the past, we pick up a couple of the pouches.  One packet contains Mushroom Takatak, and the other Kashmir Spinach.  Each pouch can be boiled inside the bag for about five minutes, and then eaten over rice as the basis of a quick, nutritious meal.  One bag is easily enough for two people.  
Of course our excursion to Ozark Natural Foods is never complete without desert and a ginger beer from their cooler.  I pick up a Chocolate Brownie Cliff Bar and some other protein bars that are reasonably priced for the occasion.  There’s also a desert cooler with pies and cakes, for people who can do the calories.  They’re not cheap either.

The only thing to do now is get out of this place.  Every cashier has at least five people waiting, and it looks like half of them have full carts.  The pandemonium is so intense.  A cashier changing her money tray comes flying at me wielding her tray like a weapon, with a fast “excuse me” as she cuts through my lane.  As I try to back out of her way, I nearly fall backwards over a little gremlin crawling the backside of my knees.  I say “whoa,” thinking this is a close call.  But oddly nobody notices.  Finally it is our turn and we pay the cheerful cashier.  We find our way to the seating area to eat our pizza and scone, and to avail ourselves of the free filtered water.  Another completed adventure for our Fayetteville Saturday.

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