Everyone said we had to go to the still relatively new Health Food Grocery Store in Shreveport, the same size as the regular Non-Healthy Food Grocery Stores we’ve all shopped in for years.

This newer chain is taking America by organic storm and we were missing the boat, we were told.

Now and then we’d get this: “YOU haven’t BEEN to the new health food store?!” They said it as they’d say “You stole shoes from a toddler?” or “You hid your grandmomma’s purse? And medicine?”

I’d wanted to go actually, just for the novelty of it all. Poor time management had been the issue. That and, well, what if they didn’t have Oreos in the new health food grocery store? Then that’d be another trip to the Non-Healthy Food Grocery Store, where I’ve gone for more than a half-century buying unhealthy milk and unhealthy bread and the occasional non-organic squash or cucumber.

So we made a plan to go, because we are now on the elderly side and things like Seeing A New Novelty Store sounds fun.

This one did not disappoint.

We’d planned for the visit like you’d plan for a trip to the beach or Six Flags or the Grand Canyon. Still, we were thwarted the first couple of times we tried — other more fun, more unhealthy things to do came up —  but finally this week we went.

It was a recon trip only. We didn’t want to walk in and actually shop, because people would know, if we were in there longer than 15 or 20 minutes, that we were First Timers, people who couldn’t really tell you, even with an organic kumquat to our heads, what the difference was between flax seed and lentils.

So we walked in with our tiny list: apple cider vinegar, blueberries, oatmeal. You gotta start somewhere.

You know the part in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and Toto walk out of their Kansas home that’s been tornadoed Over The Rainbow, and everything goes from black and white to color? That was our experience. We weren’t in Piggly Wiggly anymore.

The blueberries, the same ones I see in the Non-Healthy Food Grocery Store, were Right There to greet us, so that made me feel better about my shopping choices but also made me wonder if this place might be overrated.

Hardly.

The overview if you walk in from the north entrance is fresh fruits and veggies, fresh meat straight back. On the south side is a deli, but that’s an understatement: it’s more of a restaurant, plus a few long make-it-yourself-to-go or eat-in-or-on-the-patio, sneeze-covered Healthy Food areas.

Further investigation along the middle of the store revealed this:

A row of plastic bins — a wall really—of oats and flour and barley and chia seed, raw macadamia nuts (all nuts aren’t raw?; the tonnage of what I don’t know is beyond comprehension), whole cashews, Turkish apricots and banana chips and mango slices and pineapple rings.

Even Oregon hazelnuts, imported straight from China. (Just joking on that last part. But Oregon is a major-league hazelnut producer? Who knew?) Hamp seed and golden flax seed too. It’s an impressive wall of bins, and you can sit there and grab a bag and pitch ’til you win on any bin of your choosing.

Another aisle: organic Thousand Islands and vegan mayo. Am I the only one who does not know what “organic” truly means? And I would not know gluten if it walked up and hit me in the face with an organic turnip. Or a gluten-free beet.

Here’s an aisle with regular stuff like Cheerios and all sorts of flakes and puffs and chickpea granola. I am lost in a backwash of health. There are Goodie Girl Cookies, Simple Meals Soft-Baked Snickerdoodles, Annie’s Bunny Grahams, Back To Nature Peanut Butter Creams.

Is this soap? It is! And … wait a minute: Calorie-free diapers? Diapers? What is a …? Wait. It reads Chlorine-free diapers. But still…

And then the next aisle is grain-free turkey with spinach and cranberries and blueberries…for your cat.

There are the ready-to-cook casseroles. Nice. The fish “wild caught” and “free range” yard bird and beef on ice that makes me glad I am not vegan.

But…hold the phone. 100 percent recycled bathroom tissue? Recycled toilet pa…? Hmmmm…I’ll have to take a hard pass on that.

We paid for our three items and limped out, health imposters who were happy for the experience. We’ll be back, wiser and more gluten-conscious, in a few days. We have a lot to learn about the Health Food world.

Until next time, that’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the free-range truth.

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