Christmas in Pensacola: Everman’s to the rescue!

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Greetings from Pensacola, FL, which our most loyal readers (the ones related to us) will remember I last wrote about in June, when the Potato and I visited my grandmother. I'm back here for Christmas, having just survived a hellish bout of stomach flu.

It's been a long week, and I'm only just now feeling sort of myself again. A lot of why I feel better has to do with a visit to Ever'man Natural Foods co-op in downtown P'cola yesterday.

evermans_ext.jpgI knew about the co-op, as my Auntie Pathy, who lives here, has mentioned it in every single conversation we've had about the Ethicurean and SOLE food. But I never went there. Instead I shopped at Winn-Dixie and bitched about all the fried food everywhere. I don't know why. It's just one of those things — I guess it's finally sinking in that a lot of my elders have eaten this way not only since back when I was a dewy-cheeked East Coast snob and dismissed them as "New Age hippies," but since the '60s.

I'm sorry, my beloved Buddhist, golf-playing, real-estate tycoon Aunt P.!

Ever'mans, as ever'body seems to call it, was founded in 1973, and according to the little pamphlet I picked up, is the largest natural foods store between Tallahassee and New Orleans (which has a Whole Foods). Auntie Pathy has been a member since 1978, when she bought a lifetime membership. Her membership number is so low that they remark on it ever'time she pulls out her card. (I'll stop now.)

I would once have said something like "Ever'mans. Rocks!" but nooo, I don't resort to clichés like that anymore ... even when I am rushing because I have about 15 minutes to finish the Digest and this post before my family pries the laptop from me and throws it in the Gulf of Mexico. Instead I will say this: Ever'mans is an oasis in what I thought was a SOLE food desert. It's the best reward for a crappy week Santa could have delivered.

evermans_pork.jpgAlthough I had ordered a large box of what my family calls my "picky" meats to be FedExed here for this week just to be on the safe side, I needn't have. Ever'mans is tiny but it sells plenty of free-range, organic, grass-fed, pastured, and even local meats. It has a small but substantial produce section, with a lot of local and organic foods, and an impressive dairy case. Organic wine, beer, bulk foods, cereals, soups…I felt a huge wave of health wash over me, and boy was I happy.

evermans_produce.jpgMembership is now a piddly $12 a year; if customers don't want to pay it, they can still shop there and pay 15% more than the co-op members. We saved about 10 times that much in that one massive trip with P.'s card yesterday. Prices were cheaper than the Whole Foods in Oakland, and they subsidize a handful of basic staples for poor families. The co-op pays a living wage and benefits to its workers, and supports Pensacola's small —but growing, according to the Ever'man newsletter — group of local producers.

I have a date with the beach, and I'll be writing in detail about the exciting new things I bought to try — raw milk labeled "For Pets Only," anyone? — in the next few days, assuming my increasingly impatient family will let me. I want to close with this excerpt from the Everman's newsletter, written by one of its new board members, Mike Kovach:

We live just a little closer to our inner truth than most—you know, that little voice inside telling us that growing our food should not destroy the land for future generations, should not slowly poison us, should foster our health, and not exploit the life of another human. I think, as a whole, we cherish our values enough to speak with our wallets, our actions, and our buying decisions. Something simply being cheap, convenient, conventional or easy doesn’t appeal to us. We believe in something better.

Let's hear it for our elders-and-wisers. And for places like Ever'mans, that have long nurtured the seeds of the food revolution.

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