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The Wonder of Wegmans

August 27, 2018

It’s been a busy weekend. Friday I supped on steak and sipped Champagne at the 20th Annual Travers Wine Tasting. Saturday, I skipped out on the Travers to eat soft serve in Schenectady. And on Sunday I took a day trip down to Pennsylvania.

The tale of the soft serve is coming. But you can check some of the other regional food blogs, instagram feeds, and local Facebook profiles for some early insights. The turnout was better than I had expected.

Today, I wanted to share a quick bit about my brief time at Wegmans. Mostly because there are some people who just don’t get what makes the place so special. My take on it is not an exhaustive list of every little thing. Because there are just a lot of small details Wegmans gets right.

Instead, I’m going to share a story about a crazy shopper with impossible demands.

Perhaps you remember the kerfuffle recently about traces of herbicide found in breakfast cereal. The short version is something else is likely to kill you first. But it’s reasonable to be upset that conventional farmers have adopted the practice of desiccating oats and wheat in the fields with glyphosate based herbicides.

Because I have no desire to support this practice, I’m switching to organic oats.

That’s easy enough. What’s a little bit harder is finding suitable substitutes for all the products in my life that contain a large quantity of oats. Two things are eaten almost daily in the Fussy household. Cheerios and granola.

The only organic Cheerios substitute I’ve found thus far is from Cascadian Farm. So I bought one box. But I am still holding a grudge against the brand and its parent company General Mills for actively trying to thwart the labeling of genetically engineered ingredients. But that’s another story. Anyhow, I’m open to suggestions.

Granola is another matter entirely.

Why? Because there is so much in granola that I cannot stand. On its face, much of it is far too sweet. Then some of it is flavored, and even “natural flavors” aren’t quite as natural as you may be led to believe. Some granola uses questionable oils, or has more soy than one might imagine. But my biggest gripe is the use of brown rice syrup and other rice products. Because I’m trying to limit those too.

Mrs. Fussy occasionally says that I must have a very hard time going through life. And it’s true. I do. It isn’t easy being this fussy.

Which brings us back to Wegmans.

I figured they must have something that would fit within all my crazy parameters. Why? Because as crazy as I am, Wegmans gets me.

All of these issues I have with food? They aren’t actually crazy. Other people have them too. There are a lot of us. And we have money to spend on food. And when we find the products we like, we’ll buy them over and over again. It’s a loyal segment of consumers. Wegmans gets it, and it serves us. Well.

Because not only did Wegmans have exactly what I was looking for, it’s their house brand. Plus the “flavor” I found is made with ancient grains. Oh yeah, and the 12 ounce bag of organic granola came to only $3.50. It was on sale, but still, it’s usually only $4.

Thank you, Wegmans.

And thank you for the brown rice and quinoa sushi rolls filled with sweet potato and avocado. It was just the kind of light and healthful snack I was craving after a day of eating soft serve. It was just enough food to keep me from bingeing at the market. And it kept me satisfied until I could make it to Oneonta for a slice of cold cheese pizza.

Okay, that may not have been so moderate, but it was fun.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. chrisck permalink
    August 27, 2018 10:10 am

    Why don’t you make your own granola, with organic oats? It’s so easy to make. I use a recipe that calls for only 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup for 4 cups of granola, full of whole grains, seeds, and nuts. You can use all organic ingredients if you want. Customized home-made granola is perfect for the Fussy eater.

    • August 27, 2018 11:11 am

      Very true. I’ve looked into it, and the process looks sticky. I hate sticky. I’m willing to pay other people to deal with sticky things. That goes for yeasty and floury things too.

      • chrisck permalink
        August 27, 2018 12:14 pm

        Not sticky and you don’t have to involve your hands. I think my recipe might be on the “dry side” because it only calls for the 1/4 c. sweeter and 1/4 c. oil. (I was wrong above — my recipe makes almost 8 c. granola). It makes a crispy granola, but not a clumpy granola (which I think would require a stickier recipe with more sweetener and oil).

        Highly Customizable Granola

        Mix in a big bowl the following ingredients (organic if you like).

        4 cups rolled oat
        1/2 c. wheat germ (or ground flax meal)
        1/4 c. sunflower seeds (or pumpkin seeds)
        1/4 c. sesame seeds
        1 c. chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, whatever you like)

        In a separate bowl mix together

        1/4 c. honey (microwave if necessary on low to get very liquidy) or maple syrup (If you like a sweeter granola, use 1/2 c. sweetener)
        1/4 c. good quality oil.
        1 tsp. vanilla (or almond extract, or maple extract if using maple syrup…).

        Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir, coating dry with wet thoroughly. Spread on a cookie sheet (the kind with sides) and bake at 350 for approx. 25 min. until golden brown. Stir often to keep from burning.

        When the granola is cool, add 1 c. raisins or other dried fruit (dried cranberries, blueberries, diced apricots…)

        Store in a tightly sealed container. I store mine in the refrigerator to keep it crisp.

        You can customize this recipe by substituting “like with like” (some rye or wheat or barley flakes, even quinoa flakes for some of the oats), pumpkin seeds for sunflower seeds, and so on, but keep the overall dry/wet ratio pretty much the same.

      • Deedee permalink
        August 27, 2018 2:22 pm

        You might consider trying locally made Gatherer’s Granola. It’s very good.

  2. August 27, 2018 12:28 pm

    Dan – easy fix. Try @GGGranola

    Sandro Gerbini is committed to wholesome, non-GMO artisan granola. I’ve had it – it’s fantastic. I usually have a bag in my office for afternoon “pick-me-ups.” Plus, you’d be supporting a Capital Region entrepreneur!


    ps – love reading your tweets!

  3. Alex B permalink
    August 27, 2018 1:01 pm

    Lovely post. Wegman’s does do a great job relative to other chains.

    Regarding glyphosate in breakfast cereals and grains more generally, I’ve found it very frustrating to find high quality reporting on the subject. The majority of news outlets seem to be engaging distributing an alarmist message, one that is optimized for clicks rather than an honest evaluation of the science. Slate did a good job on the topic for the layperson:

    Slate’s Susan Matthews makes a compelling case that Environmental Working Group (EWG) is engaged in fear mongering and that their position on glyphosate/RoundUp is divorced from scientific rigor. Based on her reporting, from the consumers perspective, not only is the jury out on the dangers in glyphosate at currently observed levels in food, notice of jury duty has yet to be distributed. While glyphosate has some problematic qualities in terms of environmental externalities, there appears to be no credible reason to suppose it is causing cancer in consumers of conventionally grown crops. The position she outlines is supported by peer reviewed scientific publications on this subject.

    Regarding genetically modified foods, it might be a good time to revisit the subject. Since your 2013 blog post on the subject a great deal of science has been done investigating questions of GMOs and human health. The subject is more nuanced than most give it credit for. It’s incredibly easy and seductive to take a position against the likes of Monsanto, and one should skeptical of their claims, but that doesn’t mean that they are always completely wrong.

    Here is a (dated) peer reviewed article on the subject circa 2015:

    Misconceptions in nutrition and food science abound. Your articles have often served to inform readers against sloppy thinking. I hope that you will continue to engage in the subtleties found within these and other topics.

  4. enough already! permalink
    August 28, 2018 11:09 am

    What chrisck said. Mine is not sticky at all. Olive oil. I add 1/4 c. Brown sugar, 1 tablespoonful cinnamon. Bake on sheet pan, foil lined, pressing down from time to time to get clumps. Don’t stir. Add 1c dried unsweetened coconut last couple of minutes. Let rest in pan till cool to get clumps, or not.
    Really not too sweet for the volume.
    Easy Peasy.

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