Thursday, April 21, 2011

'The World's Greatest Food Store'?

Picture of Fairway Market - Paramus Location, ...Image via Wikipedia
Sales fliers from Fairway Market seem to be filled with half-truths and hyperbole.

Another Fairway Market sales flier showed up in my newspaper this morning, and at the top of the first page I read:

"It's with GOOD reason we are THE WORLD'S GREATEST FOOD STORE. Experience it."

Not only are the words "THE WORLD'S GREATEST FOOD STORE" in capital letters, but they're followed by a registration mark, an "R" in a circle.

The Paramus outlet of the small New York-based chain always had a lot of chutzpah, but can it really live up to that description?

Where's the beef?

Inside the flier, almost an entire page is given over to Fairway's hard-sell for USDA Prime boneless rib eye steaks and roasts -- at $11.99 a pound. 

The store calls it "the very best your money can buy," which is a ridiculous thing to say about conventional, grain-fed beef that probably was raised on antibiotics, growth hormones and animal byproducts (kitchen scraps and bits of dead animals added to the feed).

But you won't find anything in the flier about the origins of the beef or how it was raised. USDA Prime is the government's top grade, but means only this is the fattiest beef, and the fat or marbling makes it taste great.

But a USDA Prime designation tells you nothing about quality.

Over at ShopRite, the same boneless steaks and roasts are on sale for $4.99 a pound with a store card, $6.99 without, but this Nature's Reserve-brand beef is imported -- it's from free-range, grass-fed cattle raised in Australia without harmful additives.

Fairway isn't alone in leaving out crucial information about the food it is selling.

I saw a new Perdue TV ad on Wednesday night, showing a bunch of reporters running around like chickens with their heads cut off, making a big fuss over the producer's pledge to raise its poultry without animal by-products.

Of course, no mention was made of harmful antibiotics, which the birds get to keep them from getting sick in the packed chicken houses.

The biggest H Mart

I drove to Ridgefield on Wednesday to shop at a Super H Mart, the biggest of the Korean chain's four supermarkets in Bergen County.

There's more of just about everything at this store, compared to Little Ferry, where I usually shop; Englewood and Fort Lee.

I did find a 20-pound bag of Kokuho Yellow Label, California-grown white rice for $11.99 -- a price cut of $5. 

I wasn't shopping for fish, but saw whole, small tuna and wild-caught catfish on ice for less than $3 a pound.

For a light, non-meat dinner, I also took home two new-for-me prepared items from Jinga of Maspeth, N.Y. The pan-fried "egg roll" actually was an omelet with seaweed that was rolled up and sliced into sections ($4.99).

Another container held seasoned spinach, mushrooms, bean sprouts, cucumbers and two other side dishes usually served with a Korean restaurant meal. It was labeled "Seasoned Wildweed" and I got 22 ounces for $5.99. 

Unlike Fairway Market or Trader Joe's, which give you nothing but attitude, H Mart gives you 10 cents for each reusable bag you use.

Fish in a can

One of the items I bought at the 70%-off sale at a Pathmark store that closed this week was a 15-ounce can of Bar Harbor-brand New England-Style Fish Chowder.

The soup looked creamy (from wheat flour) and contained chunks of Alaskan pollock and potato, and a little butter. Although this is a condensed soup, I didn't add any milk or water. It was delicious with a glass of red wine.
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  1. Far as I'm concerned, Fairway is indeed the world's greatest food market. It's the aisles and aisles of stuff you'd never find anywhere else, and their go ahead and dip the french bread in the olive oil display just don't double dip, and a whole mess of little things that set it apart from overpriced places like Whole Foods and places like ShopRite, which I love and has better prices, but it scams you at the checkout aisle, and Costco, which I know you like but lacks the selection and opportunity to buy things by the quarter pound. Fairway does have one drawback, though: It still doesn't carry truffle baloney.

  2. You don't find it elsewhere because you really don't need it.

    Fairway does have fig cake from Spain, but I'm put off by the $9.99-a-pound price. I first saw that product at Kings in Fort Lee.

    If you remember to shop the sales at Whole Foods, you'll be getting food of higher quality than Fairway.

    How does ShopRite scam you at checkout?

    As for Costco, there are enough 1-pound and 2-pound packages -- of organic spring mix, tomatoes, cheese and so forth -- that are easily consumed by a couple or a family of three or more.


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