| Opinion |

New Downtown Miami Publix: Does It Deserve Being Ranked Third in the Nation?

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Hipsters and dog owners in midtown and downtown can now rejoice. Publix has finally opened a convenient location in the Omni area. No longer will denizens have to visit the jam-packed outpost on Biscayne at 48th Street. The new location, at 1776 Biscayne Blvd., features both a liquor store and a pharmacy, in addition to sparkling floors, high ceilings, and wide aisles. The chain was recently ranked third in the nation by Consumer Reports, and it now seems Publix has stepped up its GreenWise section. It comes at a hefty price, though.

GreenWise is advertised as the section for "organic and natural" foods. The reality is that the options are usually organic or natural, because not everything is certified organic.

Even though the South Beach Publix locations have already boasted serious GreenWise options, this is new for the downtown area. Each aisle at this new Publix has a section dedicated to natural foods, featuring plenty of gluten-free flours and cake mixes, organic condiments (even organic wasabi sauce), and organic spices from Badia. Most Publix supermarkets in the area feature only one small, isolated corner of GreenWise. This new addition definitely helps many downtown and midtown residents from having to drive all the way to Fresh Market or Whole Foods for a dose of green offerings.

The seafood section features the usual suspects: farmed catfish, tilapia, and salmon, and wild red grouper and mahi. In terms of poultry, still no organic or free-range chicken. To my surprise, though, I spotted grass-fed beef from White Oak Pastures and Maverick Ranch.

The yogurt section has been revamped and now boasts items that used to belong only to Whole Foods, such as Siggi's Icelandic Style Skyr. There are also deli meats and cheeses from Applegate Naturals.

The new Publix also has a salad bar and large stands of organic fruits and vegetables in the produce section. The prepared-foods section leans toward healthfulness, with salads, salmon, mashed cauliflower, and quinoa. It isn't just fried chicken anymore.

Too bad it all comes at a price. Many of the items I usually grab at Milam's, Whole Foods, or Fresh Market seemed a little pricier at this Publix, especially the grass-fed beef and the rices from Lundberg Family Farms.

All in all, it's a step up from the other stores in the area in terms of quality offerings. Kim Reynolds, the media and community relations manager for Publix Super Markets, says, "We work hard to provide the best overall value and best shopping experience in the industry. We pride ourselves in taking care of our customers and meeting and exceeding their expectations." They definitely answered consumers' desire for more organic and natural foods.

But even with all of that effort, prices still seem a little off. What is it? Well, some shoppers might notice there still hasn't been a penny added to the price of tomatoes.

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