In Virginia at least, the two grocery stores you can find in rural areas are usually Walmart and Food Lion. My town of Ashland is no exception. Although just outside the city of Richmond, the town itself can only claim these two as real groceries. Sure, we’ve got a great farmer’s market in the summer and the independent Cross Brothers grocery, but for everyday items, you need a big grocery store.
I’ll have to admit: I’m kind of a grocery snob. I don’t often shop at Food Lion in Richmond because we have so many other great choices in close proximity to my places of work, or have such unique items that it’s worth the drive.
Years ago, Food Lion was the only choice for grocery shopping when we stayed on the Outer Banks, and, oh, how I was not pleased with that. But we made due, often bringing multiple non-perishable items from home. Fortunately, the choices for grocery shopping on the OBX have expanded tremendously in recent years.
Speaking of choices, we are so very fortunate in the Richmond area to have the mecca of all grocery stores. We seem to have more choices in the metro area than anywhere else in the country! I tend to go into Henrico County for most of my grocery shopping, but I thought it would be a good idea to visit my neighborhood Food Lion in Ashland to see what they have, and also to compare the rural store to their more urban locations.
My first stop was to a Food Lion location on the busiest road in west Richmond, Broad Street. I was underwhelmed. They do carry tofu, a limited selection of Vivo Life cheese, a few Gardein items, and Daiya cheese. But I was surprised by the lack of some of what I consider very basic vegan items, like organic sugar and at least one type of vegan-friendly chocolate chips (usually if you find these in the gluten-free sections, they are vegan). But I didn’t find either. I did, however, find Just Egg, Helleman’s vegan mayo, Dave’s Killer Bread, and Silk yogurt. Those were pleasant surprises.
I was also caught off guard by the associates stocking the floor. As I was taking pictures and making notes on my phone, one of them asked me what I was looking for. I revealed that I was a blogger, etc., and he was eager to tell me about all of the vegan items they had in store. He even sent a manager my way to show me around. It was a nice gesture.
I was so disappointed overall that I almost didn’t visit my Ashland store. But wanting to give the benefit of the doubt, I did go. And you know what? The small, college town of Ashland’s Food Lion delivered more than its more urban counterpart. I was pleasantly surprised. Here’s what they had to offer:
- The entire Vivo Life cheese line.
- Multiple tofu items, Lightlife, Field Roast, Good Foods, and Tofurky products
- Daiya and Annie’s vegan mac and cheese.
- A surprisingly wide selection of vegan meat substitutes from multiple brands, including Beyond Meat, Impossible, Sweet Earth, and Pure.
- A wider selection of frozen vegan goods.
- Organic sugar
- Enjoy Life chocolate chips and a wide variety of gluten free items from Bob’s Redmill.
- A good selection of plant based milks, yogurts, and frozen desserts, including So Delicious and Ben and Jerry’s non-dairy treats.
- Just Egg at $3.99!
- Vegan Helleman’s on sale for $3.79!
- GT’s kombucha on sale 2/$5.00, which is a steal!
Although I likely won’t return to the more urban location, I was impressed by the variety of vegan goods at my Ashland store. It was more on par with my big Walmart supercenter, which is just a mile or so away, and even had a few more things that Walmart doesn’t, most notably my favorite Silk protein milk and Just Egg. And the prices are outstanding! Although with the abundant array of grocery stores in Richmond with wider vegan offerings, I will likely still choose to shop elsewhere, but this may replace Walmart as my grocery stop if I need to pick up something in Ashland. It is nice to know that if Food Lion is one of your only choices, there are some solid vegan friendly options here.
Do you shop at Food Lion? If so, what do you like about it? I’d love to hear your opinion! As always, I hope you are safe and healthy.