I'd actually been in Ozark Natural Foods a few times before today. The smell hit me pretty hard the first time and I only lasted a few minutes. The next time it was the deathlike pallor of some of the customers that had me heading to the door. The third time I had the desire to buy a product called nutritional yeast, which I became aware of through Scott Jurek's excellent book Eat and Run, but I couldn't find it and I didn't have the nerve to ask for help. I know how absurd that is, but such am I.
Today, though, I went with the intention of staying at least an hour. I was going to view every product, read labels, learn as much as I could. I was even going to interact with the employees, which I did, several of them. I found all of them to be friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, and non-judgemental. I was very impressed. I even got used to the smell.
My more informed impression of the store having spent an hour in it didn't change that much from my first impression when I only lasted a minute in the place. While most of my fellow shoppers did look more or less help healthy, there were still the ghosts in the room. And, for me at least, a big reason for eating healthier is to be healthy without having to take a bunch of pills and supplements. Ozark Natural Foods has a full three aisles of pills and supplements. It also has aisles and aisles of highly processed foods, perhaps organic, but still highly processed. Prices ranged from reasonable to offensively high. On whole, though, it's not a bad place. I made it the full hour!
My favorite section is the bulk grains. I didn't have the foresight to bring my own containers and would have felt funny using either the paper or the plastic bags, so I gave it a miss today, just grabbing info sheets from a few interesting beans and such.
Towards the end of the hour, I had still not found the nutritional yeast so I nutted up and asked someone. Turns out it happened to be on a low shelf only feet from my shins, which gave both of us a laugh. I grabbed a jar and headed to the register to make my first ever purchase at Ozark Natural Foods. Mission complete!