This one's for my friend, Amy W.
I went shopping at Hy-Vee last week. (Can I say that? Are there rules about brand advertising on blogs?) I usually shop here in Nevada, but wanted to roam around a bit and see what new and exciting vegan options are available these days. I only had three kids with me that morning, and two of them were my own. That means it's easy to get out and about, right?
So we headed out to Ames, where there are two Hy-Vee stores. The west store has a health food market--a mini market as part of the store that has all the vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, allergen-free, organics, etc. in one convenient area. The east store has an "integrated" health market. That means that all the vegan foods are randomly shelved around the store making it virtually impossible for you to find anything at all. It also means that you have to drag three kids up and down every aisle multiple times just to find one item. And that means crying and kicking and screaming fits from one, while the other two pull everything off every shelf. And that means stress and headaches for me.
So that's the store I decided shop.
The kids started getting restless and I started getting frustrated. I was tired of telling them to stop knocking stuff off the shelves and I was even more upset that I couldn't seem to find anything vegan. But I only had enough food in the cart for maybe half a day. So I asked one of those "helpful smiles" in the aisle to point out where I might find vegetarian/vegan cheese alternatives. He said (and I quote), "Ummmmmm, gee lady. I have no idea."
But just as my head was about to explode, he picked up a phone and asked for another person to help. I was happy and surprised when Amy introduced herself as the store nutritionalist and offered to shop with me for a while. She was wonderfully sweet to the kids and even more wonderfully sweet to me. She asked questions about my vegan decision, about the "level" of vegan I was eating, about my family and how they are eating, and was particularly interested in discussing my healthful food options. Amy genuinely cares that I am getting the healthful food I need in my diet in a way that works with my vegan choices. After talking (and three trips to the potty with toddlers), she walked me around and helped me to find what I needed. She recommended options for me and for my family. She talked about cooking techniques that would work for me and offered recipes. And she offered to meet with me again!
I am really happy to know that I have her as an ally. I know there are websites with a ton of information, and there are medical nutritionalists through the clinic here. But this is someone I can call on for a scheduled meeting, or just ask for her when I go shopping to help with a few questions. And she's a REAL HUMAN.
Even if you are not choosing a vegan lifestyle, I would highly recommend making an appointment with the nutritionalist at your grocery store. And if you live near Ames, stop by the east Hy-Vee and ask for Amy. Tell her Nanette sent you.
By the way, it was free. And I guarantee I will be meeting with her again. Next time, though, I will leave the kids at home.