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Local Merchants Court Whole Foods' Customers
Colorful Salt May Help
Birmingham () - Trying to improve on the image of its offerings in order to compete with the Whole Foods Market on Highway 280, Richard Little of V. Richards has come up with some products that will knock the socks off the guilt laden eater. One product is an improvement of Whole Foods natural bulk t'eff grain that is a popular seller amongst the gluten-free set. "We've improved on the Whole Foods product by ensuring that our natural grain is grown and harvested by poor Africans and not those working for some big U.S. conglomerate," said Little. "I just think the quality of V. Richards grain is better," said Beth Yancy a South Avondale resident. "When I mill it to make my own flour, the lignins seem to hold up better and make my bread eating experience much more powerful."

Another product, introduced by Tria Market in Homewood, is a pure salt based upon the traditional Flor de Sal. The natural product comes from the salt marshes of south Portugal where it is mixed with ancient red sea-salt imported from the Tibetan region. Mined by hand by local salt miners, this rare salt is loaded onto yaks and brought down the mountains where it is carried to Portugal along a centuries old trade route. Because this naturally red salt has been trapped deep in the Himalayan Mountains for thousands of years, it is believed to be the purest of all salts, next to sodium-chloride table salt. Also, since the salt is crystalline, it is immune to electromagnetic fields.

"We've been using this salt on the rims of our Margarita glasses for a few months now," said Craig Jennings of the Rare Martini. "People tell us that it is the saltiest salt they've ever had, and the iron oxide gives them stamina to drink more which is ok with us."

Other area merchants are trying to feed off the Whole Foods image as much as they can. The Piggly Wiggly in Woodlawn recently began offering a selection of free range souse meat and chitterlings flavored with naturally grown sweet marjoram and hand milled black pepper - both grown in the Woodlawn Ecoscape. The Western Supermarket on Highland avenue has even expanded its eclectic selection of natural micro-brewed beers to include a lanted ale from Oregon's Rogue brewery. The brew uses only the finest natural hops and urine from certified hormone-free sources.

It remains to be seen whether these smaller merchants will be able to survive the Whole Foods onslaught. "We don't know yet how well these products will be accepted," said Little. "We are just giving people more things to spend their money on and we hope they will."