Lovers of organic and specialty health food items, rejoice! There’s a new place in town to get your veggies, meats, vegan, and gluten free items. Natural Grocers opened January 19th on Rodney Parham to an excited and packed house. I headed over to the store on opening day during lunch and found the parking lot completely full. Once inside, I could see why.
Natural Grocers is not a huge store, but it’s bursting with produce and products at every turn. The store is laid out with checkout located centrally and produce in front and product aisles behind. There is a large demo kitchen located to the left of the entrance, which I’m sure will be a well used space for the community. You won’t find large, self serve bulk bins at Natural Grocers. Instead, they have bulk items pre-packed in various weights, from the very small to the incredibly large. You’ll find some of their bulk items in the refrigerated section as well, as some items such as flour keep better that way.
The Little Rock store is the second they have opened in Arkansas. Founded in 1955, Natural Grocers aims to hold their own against other stores by offering only organic produce and natural products at an affordable price. They also plan on sourcing as much produce and products from local vendors as they can. I spied some My Brother’s Salsa on the shelves, which had a large “Made in Arkansas” label below.
Natural Grocers does not boast a large variety of hot to-go foods, but that allows them to allocate most of the floor space in the store for products. They have an incredible array of specialty items, with much more variety and flavors that I’ve found anywhere else in town. Upon walking in the store, you’ll see that they have an ample selection of produce. Along the back of the store, you will find a staggering amount of vitamins and supplements. Along the back of the store you will find cold and frozen items, and the central aisles hold everything from cleaning items to packaged goods to bulk foods. Along the front you’ll find organic bath and beauty items elegantly displayed and labeled.
As a vegan, I can tell you that those wanting to follow a plant based diet will be incredibly happy at the variety of offerings at Natural Grocers. I was at first impressed with the vegan cheese selection, which has items that you’d typically find as well as some of the more obscure specialty cheese. They’re not hidden away in a “vegan” corner, either. The plant based cheeses are mixed right along with the others. The cold storage section of the store also contains a great mix of specialty vegan items, from ice cream, to whipped cream, to burgers and pizza. If you’re gluten free, you will be happily surprised to find cases full of gluten free breads, donuts, and baked goods, as well as flours and crackers in the packaged food aisles.
Since it was lunch time, I decided to try and pull together a vegan meal for 10 dollars. I thought this would be slightly difficult, seeing as they don’t have hot food to go or a salad bar, but it was surprisingly easy. One trip down the soup aisle and I found tons of single serve noodle cups that were all vegan. I grabbed a ramen cup and continued looking. Soon, I found an aisle of cold prepared food, from hummus to salads to samosas. The samosas were easily labeled vegan and were quickly added to my lunch haul. I then topped my meal off with a square of dark chocolate and a nori wrapped energy stick.
Whether you’re doing all your shopping or just running in for that special item you need, Natural Grocers is sure to be a common stop for the organic food lover in Little Rock. Stop by January 30th for a gluten free tasting expo and health fair, or check out their websites for more events on their upcoming calendar.
Natural Grocers is located at 9210 Rodney Parham Road and is open Monday through Saturday, 8 am to 9 pm, and Sundays from 8:30 am to 7:35 pm.