Wednesday, November 2, 2016

You'll have to decide if a new Whole Foods in Closter is worth the detour

A meatless Korean BBQ Veggie Bowl ($8 or $12 with a wedge of tofu) is among the prepared-food options at the new Whole Foods Market in Closter, a wealthy Bergen County community about 10 miles northeast of Hackensack.


A visit to the new Whole Foods Market in Closter immediately makes clear why shoppers are willing to pay more for groceries and prepared food.

The supermarket in the Closter Plaza shopping center offers the best from local farms and fisheries, but nothing from the factory farms that raise mystery meat and poultry, putting profits above the welfare of both animals and humans.

Products that line the shelves are organic or grown naturally without genetically modified seeds and pesticides.

Whole Foods also is the only supermarket chain in northern New Jersey to give you a credit (10 cents) for using a reusable bag.

I've been shopping at the bigger Whole Foods Market in Paramus since it opened in 2009, but visit a Korean-owned barber shop, manicurist or restaurants in Closter about once a month.

After a haircut on Tuesday, I met a friend for lunch at the new Whole Foods, had a cup of coffee and looked around.

It's different enough from the Paramus store that I'll probably drop in whenever I'm in town.

See: No one has to spend a whole paycheck

The organic supermarket, which opened last week, isn't as big as the Whole Foods in Paramus, a couple of miles from my home, and doesn't sell wine or have a sushi stand. But the new market has a few exclusive features, including a sheltered outdoor seating area for customers with a big ceiling fan and a fire pit, below.

Once you leave the store, there is no re-entry, above and below.

The exit gate is next to the fire pit.

More outdoor seating and near the entrance, firewood for sale.

The seafood counter is about half the size of the one in Paramus, but Whole Foods assures customers that even the farmed seafood it sells is raised without antibiotics and preservatives.

The whole wild-caught Porgies nestled in ice, right, are a great deal at $4.99 a pound.

Wild and farmed oysters were $1.75 each.

Dry-aged beef is raised naturally without antibiotics and growth hormones, as is all the poultry and meat sold at Whole Foods.

In Paramus, you get a break if you buy two antibiotic-free rotisserie chickens, but I didn't see any such deal in Closter.

I counted three islands of help-yourself hot or cold prepared food at $8.99 a pound. You could easily spend $20 to fill the box in the foreground.

Food stands offer wood-fired pizza from a special oven, made-to-order sandwiches and Veggie Bowls (misspelled "Vegie" on signs), which are available with extra-cost protein, including salmon and chicken. My spicy lunch bowl included Korean BBQ cauliflower, kimchi and carrots, plus sriracha sunflower seeds, cilantro and Korean BBQ aioli over kelp noodles and kale, all topped with a wedge of tofu.

A slice of pizza with Brussle sprouts and Bacon was $3.50. A Classic Deli sandwich with natural, preservative-free pastrami and corned beef on marble rye, served with a Guss' pickle, set my friend back $10.
The Closter store offers freshly milled Tahini ($12 a jar), and Halva, a Middle Eastern confection usually made with sesame flour and honey. I tried a sample of the Rose Oil Halva, which was delicious and not too sweet.

Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value line includes a variety of Mexican-style salsas -- all of which are non-GMO and free of added sugar -- including Roasted Verde (16 ounces for $2.69). That night, I used most of a bottle I had at home to poach Icelandic cod fillets from Costco Wholesale in Teterboro ($7.99 a pound), below.

The 365 Everyday Value line includes non-GMO Garbanzo Beans, Black-Eyed Peas and others for 79 cents a can, and Organic Whole Wheat Pasta imported from Italy for $1.49 a pound.

You pay for sandwiches and other prepared food at the checkout counter amid inspirational signs that remind you why you shop there, such as, "We sell the highest quality natural and organic products available."

Tables and chairs for eating your food purchases have stations for utensils and napkins at either end, but none in the middle. A couple of couches also are available near the restrooms, and I saw a woman relaxing on one as she appeared to be nursing a baby, though the child was covered by a cloth.


Whole Foods Market, 33 Vervalen St., Closter (in Closter Plaza shopping center); 1-201-367-9099. Open 7 days from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Website: Healthy Food

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