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BEST HEALTH FOOD STORE Miami 2004 - Wild Oats Natural Marketplace

This particular outpost of the national chain is housed in the space formerly occupied by a Publix -- the giant, upside-down chevron sign still marks the entrance -- and its vast stock takes advantage of an uncluttered, well-lit ambiance not generally found in granola world. Organic produce and vegan proteins are available as well as desserts, free-range beef, wines without sulfites, and cheeses from around the world. Wild Oats has an ample, respectable produce aisle, bulk pastas, rices, spices and herbs, and icy cases filled with raw ahi tuna and scallops, so the discerning, health-minded cook will be pleased. But this store is at its most usefully mind-boggling for the kitchen-impaired who nonetheless eschew fast food: A deli is jammed with ready-to-eat meatless tamales, tofu salads, and curried turkey. Grab-and-go whole grain sandwiches are stacked high with romaine lettuce, sprouts, and marinated portobellos. Spinach lasagna is available for purchase by the pan or by the slice. Beyond the capacity to keep the larder from getting low, Wild Oats offers a cornucopia of cruelty-free (read: unlike Procter & Gamble, the eyes of rabbits are not used as test tubes for these products) cleaning and bathing lines, from Burt's Bees to Avalon Organics. Finally don't miss out on snacks and meals for the pets. Wild Oats is one of the few places in Florida to purchase Spot's Stew, a canned food for both dogs and cats that can tempt the pickiest pup or most toothless old cat into a good, and healthy, repast.

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