If you’ve been in Iowa for more than a minute, chances are you’ve seen or heard of Hy-Vee grocery stores. If you’ve lived in Iowa your whole life like I have, Hy-Vee has certainly become a regular staple in your life and in your budget. Compared to other grocery store chains, and even compared to the big box stores like Wal-Mart or Target, Hy-Vee is the grocery mecca. They offer just about anything you could possibly want, and if they don’t have it, you can always find an employee who can order it for you.
I recently paid a visit to the Webster City Hy-Vee to learn more about their “Homegrown” produce. With some strict critera, local growers can earn the Homegrown stamp on their produce to be sold in their local Hy-Vee store. In order to gain this Homegrown label, the produce must have been grown within 200 miles of that particular store. So basically, a Hy-Vee in Dubuque is going to offer different produce growers than a store in Council Bluffs or Des Moines.
We were given a tour of the store by Perishables Manager Nicole Bradshaw, who showed us some local meats and even better– local wines that their store carries. I loved seeing all of the Iowa wines and then knowing exactly where the winery is located– like Penoach Winery in Adel, La Vida Loca in Indianola, or Jasper Winery in Des Moines.
They even sell the Crapp Wine we got to try when visiting Bob & Leah Mass and the Iowa Pork Producers! Crapp Wine is from River Valley Orchard in Humboldt and was very tasty, and didn’t taste at all like crap!
When we left the meat department and the wine & spirit area, we headed to the produce department. Again, that Homegrown label was easily noticeable all throughout the department. Produce Manager Troy Dorothy, who graciously came in on his day off, took us on a tour of his produce department. You could easily see the pride he takes in his job, the company he works for, and the products that he sells to his customers. He makes sure that his store carries the best produce from the best growers.
Did you know Troy’s Dad grows the most amazing tomatoes in Stockport, Iowa? Luckily, Stockport is just barely within the 200 mile radius to get that Homegrown stamp of approval for the Webster City store, and customers come in months and weeks in advance to make sure “Dad’s tomatoes” will be coming to the store this season. Now that’s local shopping!
Troy also explained that one local grower walked into the store and asked “What can I grow for you?” Troy named off a few items the store could use, the grower planted those items and the rest is history!
One of the local growers that supplies to many Hy-Vee stores (including my West Lakes store in West Des Moines) is Beaver Creek Produce in Berkley, Iowa (population approx 35!). They are a small family-owned business that grows lettuce (photo on left) and herbs all year-round. They also grow tomatoes and cucumbers. As you can see in the photo, the product has the Homegrown label, which includes the company’s name and the distance from the store. This green leaf lettuce is grown 53 miles from the store! No mass packaged items from several states away– it’s LOCAL and fresh!
You’ve probably also heard me mention Graddy’s tomatoes before, too. According to Hy-Vee’s website, John and Kay Gadoville of Graddy’s (Carroll, Iowa) “produce fresh tomatoes from their greenhouse farm, which helps ensure high-quality, garden-fresh flavor in every piece of produce.” Another amaaingly fresh and delicious item at my own local Hy-Vee!
Some other perks of Hy-Vee shopping, just in case the Homegrown produce isn’t enough to sway you– they even offer online shopping! You can order your groceries online through their “Aisles Online”, and if you live close enough can even have them delivered! Delivery charges are $4.95 if your grocery order is less than $100. Any orders over $100 and the delivery is FREE. If you don’t live close enough to qualify for delivery (like me!), you can still order online and pick up at the store by simply going to their drive-up lane. Your groceries (including produce) are picked and bagged and loaded in your car. Easy peasy!
Fun fact: I asked how we can trust someone to pick out our produce when we order online, since we can’t see, feel or smell the produce that we are buying? Troy assured me that all produce items ordered online are hand-picked specifically by a personal shopper whose sole responsibility is to make sure your order is completed accurately and you get the best of the best. Excellent!
Next time you’re in your local Hy-Vee, look for the “Homegrown” label. Then tell me what you find!
Hy-Vee “Homegrown” logo used with permission from Hy-Vee, Inc.