Whole Health Center, Abingdon, VA

by Danielle Bussone

If you find yourself  low on organic supplies while tooling down Interstate 81, pull off at exit 19 in Abingdon, Virginia and stock up! Just a couple minutes from the Interstate on Main Street is a small family owned health food store called Whole Health Center. You can find organic bulk items, some fresh locally grown vegetables, packaged items like Bob’s Mills grains, coconut oils, date sugar, Braggs Amino Acids, Coconut oil, essential oils, soaps and the ubiquitous shelves of supplements.

Sean and Donna Bossie bought Whole Health Center two years ago from, Charlie, its former owner of 27 years. They had been visiting Abingdon from North Conway, New Hampshire, where they owned a coop. Their daughter had moved to Abingdon where she teaches school. The winters in New Hampshire on White Mountain were as brutal as the name suggests. Their children were grown and moved away and there didn’t seem to be much tying them to their home in the north. When Charlie commented one day, “You know, if you ever want to move closer to those grandbabies…  I’m thinking of selling if you are thinking of possibly buying,” the wheels begin to turn in the Bossie’s brains. After a year of negotiating through snail mail (Charlie was not computer savvy), Whole Health Center became theirs and Abingdon, Virginia became home. (more…)

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Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery

If your travels take you down Interstate 81, you may want to stock up on healthy staples and have lunch at one of the quaintest little restaurants slightly off  I-81, Cranberry’s in Staunton, VA.  Rich and I stopped by for Sunday brunch in response to an anonymous request by one of our readers. We are so glad we did.

Sunday may not be the best day to stop if you are looking for a variety of vegan lunch items as their brunch menu is quite abbreviated. However,  they did offer two sandwiches which we enjoyed. Rich had the Garden Wrap Raw Veggies in a spinach tortilla with hummus for $7.49. I had the New Street Burrito, made of black beans, brown rice, lettuce, tomato, red onion and salsa. ($7.19) They were both served with potato chips. They also carried a Southwestern Tofu Scramble which is tofu scrambled with scallions, bell pepper, roasted chilies and spices served with whole grain toast.($7.89). On other days they offer five vegan sandwiches ranging in price from $7.19 to $8.39, the Southwest Tofu Scramble and something they call Unwraps, which is a wrap’s fixins on a bed of greens. You can also build your own sandwich paying for the items a la carte.

There are two or three booths and a few other tables. It was quite busy by the time we left. You order food at the counter and they’ll bring it to your table. The ambience is that of a charming, old-fashioned main street mercantile with a diner in the back. Check out the rest room’s old fashioned toilettes with the tank high on the wall and a pull chain to flush. (more…)

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Sue’s Super Nutrition, Harrisonburg, PA

If it had been a snake it would have bitten us.  Rich and I were in Harrisonburg, PA to review Indian American Cafe and The Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant. On the way back to our hotel we chanced upon a terrific health food store. If you need to stock up on plant-based supplies while traveling I-81, this is just off the highway and is definitely worth the small detour.

Sue’s is a clean, well stocked, medium sized store. You can find some  fresh and frozen foods, and plenty of bulk bin items. This is the ONLY place I’ve been able to find dried fava beans other than on-line. You can believe I stocked up!

Sue carries lots packaged goods, like Bob’s Mills products, herbs and supplements, essential oils and your typical health food fare. Her daughter was working the register the day we were in. She was pleasant and helpful. If you’ve left something behind in your travels, Sue’s may be just the place to find a replacement.

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Abingdon Olive Oil Company, Abingdon, VA

by Danielle Bussone

After reading the book, Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, which exposes the seedy underbelly of the olive oil industry, I sought out Veronica Foods in California to learn where I can buy their products. This company was specifically mentioned in the book as a reputable purveyor of excellent quality olive oil. To my complete surprise they have a retailer three blocks from my house in Abingdon, VA!

Since my first visit to Abingdon Olive Oil I have visited numerous retailers and have found the experience at all the others lagging far behind what you will experience here. You will be met at the door by the owner, K.C. St. Louis or her culinary expert, Penny Arrington, or by Ashley Johnson or Lori Price, two of Abingdon Olive Oil’s full-time knowledgeable sales persons. You will be received like a special guest invited into a lovely home.

In the front parlor you will be introduced to the newest oils from California, Spain and Portugal. These regional oils will change over the months as Veronica Foods brings in the freshest oils from around the world and as the picking season varies from region to region. These oils are currently $17.99 for a 375 ml bottle.  You will be educated on the region, the amount of polyphenols in each of the oils and the type of olives used. You are free to sample anything in the store. The specialty and gourmet oils are also found in this area, the decadent truffle oil ($33) , the richest and most flavorful sesame seed oil I’ve ever tasted ($23), and the sensuous walnut oil, ($23). (more…)

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Appalachian Whole Foods Market, Carlisle, PA

by Danielle Bussone

En-route to visit Issei Noodle restaurant in Carlisle, PA, we ran across Appalachian Whole Foods Market, right across the side street from Issei Noodles. The market opens onto a corner and you are immediately greeted by its owner, Sandy Zell.  The store is larger than it appears from the outside. It is quaint and rustic and a pleasure to peruse.

What is unique about Appalachian Whole Foods Market is that it is entirely vegetarian, though not necessarily vegan.  We noted quite a selection of bulk bin items, Sandy says there are over 200 bins of organic dried beans, nuts, grains, flours and spices. There wasn’t a lot in the way of fresh produce, at least at this time of the year. When spring produce is ready to be harvested these items will no doubt appear in greater numbers. I noticed fresh eggs, a large supply of organic onions, some greens and herbs.  There was also a wall of  refrigerated items. We did note fresh breads, plenty of supplements, body products, essential oils, incense, candles and organic grocery items, including gluten free products.  She also carries a selection of books on health, specialized diets and vegetarian cooking. (more…)

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Grand Mart International Food, Alexandria, VA

Grand Mart International Food is a mecca of exotic fruits and vegetables.  I didn’t see anything in the way of organics but they certainly had a wide variety of unusual produce, much of which I was entirely unfamiliar.  What I did recognize were the isles of ethnic foods and spices.  Most prevalent were the spice blends which comes in handy when you are experimenting with various cuisines and would like to sample the flavors of a region without investing in all the individual herbs and spices contained in particular regional blends. Available were also rices, beans, noodles and other fare native to many regional cuisines, including Asian, Indian and Hispanic to mention only a few.

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