Healthy food lovers, rejoice! Pennsylvania's first Sprouts Farmers Market opened Wednesday at 1000 S. Broad St., inside a historic train shed at South Philadelphia's Lincoln Square. The grocery store chain, which got its start in Arizona in 2012, calls itself an outlet for those who want to eat clean and live healthy.
Some might simply call it a more affordable Whole Foods.
The Philly location sprawls across 32,000 square feet, so there's plenty to peruse, including many products likely to be unfamiliar. Interested in a product but hesitant to commit? Ask a Sprouts staffer for a taste. The sampling policy is encouraged as part of Sprouts' mission to inspire its customers to try new healthy foods.
Highlighted below are a dozen items you don't want to miss. Take note: It's best to buy on a Wednesday, the day that store discounts double. On any given day, roughly a third of in-store items are on sale, but on Wednesdays, the specials from the previous week and the week ahead overlap.
1. Cheap produce
Unlike most grocery stores, produce is situated smack in the middle of the store, taking center stage at Sprouts. But even before you step through the doors, you're likely to find bins of fruits and veggies displayed out front, currently including 88-cent cantaloupes. Inside, steals like 68-cent bell peppers and asparagus bunches for under $1.50 await, as do a wealth of both organic and novelty items, like jackfruit, baby purple potatoes, red tamarillo, and pepino melons.
2. Sausage from the in-house butcher
When not custom-cutting meat, Sprouts' in-house butchers can be found whipping up a variety of daily-made sausage options, ranging from spicy chicken Parmesan to Cajun pork andouille to breakfast-style links. Find them on display between the hickory-smoked thick-sliced bacon and the 100 percent grass-fed rib-eye.
3. Nuts by the pound
Sprouts' bulk section appears as if it's on steroids, with cashews, almonds, and other nuts in gigantic, whiskey-sized barrels. Beyond classic raw and roasted options, seasonings for almonds include Gochujang, Indian curry, sea salt and vinegar, and Thai coconut. The nearby trail-mix section offers sweeter options, too.
4. Loose leaf tea and draft kombucha
As cold weather nears, the loose leaf tea section is sure to come in handy. Varieties including green strawberry, ginger peach, black currant, and passionberry tisane. Meanwhile, toward the front of the store, Sprouts offers several fizzy kombucha teas on tap. Current flavors are blueberry basil, raspberry goji rose, and tropical turmeric, stationed next to two different varieties of draft nitro coffee.
5. On-tap honey
Based out of Monroeville, Fruitwood Orchards supplies Sprouts with tubs full of honey that you can stream into takeaway containers either brought from home or available at the store. Varieties currently include N.J. Wildflower and N.J. Blueberry, as well as an option for Light Organic Blue Agave, all of which range from $4.99 to $5.99 per pound. Right next to the sweet Jersey goodness, find extra virgin olive oil on tap, too.
6. Healthier ready-made and freezer meals
Looking for convenience? Whole-wheat mac-and-cheese, sweet-potato shepherd's pie, and broccoli-cheese nuggets are stocked in the freezer aisle. In a refrigerated "Heat & Eat" section, find ready-made meals like grilled sockeye salmon with veggies, dandan noodles with chicken, and turkey, kale and quinoa meat loaf, most for under $8.
7. Vitamins, supplements, and protein powders
Sprouts stocks around 7,500 products in its supplements section. It's a lot to take in, but team members are always available to assist and also climb the department's moving stepladder to locate any unreachable products. In this area, you'll also find all sorts of bone-broth products, an extensive selection of probiotics, and an entire section labeled "plant-based protein".
8. All-natural bath products
Not surprisingly, Sprouts' selection of Dr. Bronner's Castile soap is mighty, as is the array of other natural, chemical-free soap options. Sprouts makes its own brand of bar soaps with fragrances like lavender vanilla and orange blossom, as well as a variety of other bath products available at competitive prices. You'll also find eco-friendly items like bamboo toothbrushes, as well as recognizable brands like Burt's Bees, which offers lip balm flavors ranging from coconut and pear to cucumber mint to pink grapefruit.
9. Sweet treats without artificial ingredients
Not everything at Sprouts is "healthy." A wide array of treats are available, most free of artificial colors, artificial flavors, and preservatives. Find an entire section dedicated to taffy ($3.99 a pound), located right near the bulk area for gummies and other candies. (Be warned: This is destined to be a dangerous area if you've got kids in tow.) Unusual items like dark-chocolate-covered pumpkin seeds and banana chips invite you to at least think that you're delighting in something "healthy" come dessert.
10. Quality ice cream
In the freezer aisle, find every flavor of Talenti gelato (peanut butter fudge, mint cookie crunch, vanilla blueberry crumble) imaginable, as well as organic ice cream made by smaller companies from across the country. Large tubs of extra creamy Tillamook ice cream come in flavors like double nutty peanut butter and Stumptown cold brew coffee, while a variety of dairy-free brands are available, too.
11. Vegan and gluten-free specialties
Many supermarkets now offer vegan and gluten-free products, but Sprouts takes it up a level by having multiple options for nearly everything you could want. For instance, if you're seeking gluten-free brownie mix, you might want to make sure your phone is charged so you can research the available options — because there's more than one. Vegan products abound, too, like coffee creamer in flavors like pecan caramel, stationed next to Califia Farm's Barista Blend Almondmilk, the kind most cafés use to whip up dairy-free lattes and other frothy espresso specialties.
12. Weird snacks
Pretzels made from cauliflower and cassava? Check. Salted caramel chickpeas? Check. Baked carrot chips? Check. All of these items and more can certainly help to make snack time a little more interesting. Of course, standards like potato chips and popcorn are available at Sprouts, too, and you better believe you can get nearly all of them in organic versions.