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Organic grocer Earth Fare opens Rock Hill store today

Mark Williams places tomatoes in the produce section of the Earth Fare in Rock Hill on Tuesday. The natural and organic grocer opens today.
Mark Williams places tomatoes in the produce section of the Earth Fare in Rock Hill on Tuesday. The natural and organic grocer opens today.

Shoppers no longer have to leave carbon footprints from gas-guzzling SUVs driving all the way to Charlotte for an exclusively organic experience.

Earth Fare, the all-natural grocer, is opening its Rock Hill store today at the Winthrop Commons shopping center on Cherry Road. The grand opening will feature live music and art displays, and the store will donate 5 percent of its revenue today through Friday to the Arts Council of York County.

All natural, all the time

Earth Fare, with multiple locations in the Southeast including South Park and Ballantyne in Charlotte, specializes in organic products sure to please the health and environmentally conscious. Earth Fare community coordinator Rachel Kitchens said every product in the store -- from beer to baby diapers -- must pass a strict ingredients check before it reaches shelves. All products are free of hormones, steroids, antibiotics, artificial coloring and any other additives.

"We actually have a list of banned ingredients at our corporate office," Kitchens said. "Everything is checked, and if it has any of the banned ingredients, we won't carry it. No exceptions."

The store is more than just an organic market. Common household products found at mainstream grocers are sold, too. Household cleaners, pet food, vitamins and diet supplements and baby diapers are all stocked -- sans anything not 100 percent natural, of course.

After months of renovations, the store looks nothing like the old Harris Teeter once located in the space.

The front bakery has been changed to an organic produce section where bulk nuts and grains can be purchased. A wine and cheese corner with hundreds of cheeses from around the world has replaced the former produce section in the back corner.

Instead of the beer case once at the end of the Harris Teeter, Earth Fare boasts a full service deli with fresh sushi, sandwiches, paninis and a soup and salad bar. There are also cafe tables with free wireless Internet service.

Everything in the store fits the all-natural business plan. Even the magazines at the cash registers, usually the site of lowbrow tabloids and celebrity gossip, boast of a healthy lifestyle. Some of the magazine titles: "The Yoga Life," "Gluten-Free Living," and National Geographic's "Green Guide."

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