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Best Natural Food Store 

The Heart-Road Traveler

Health-food stores used to be teensy little mom-and-pops, rare as hens' teeth, where local oddballs, Jack LaLanne types, hypochondriacs, and Seventh-Day Adventists bought their bran flakes, vitamins, and Loma Linda-brand artificial meat. But then the hippies gave health-food stores a sustaining shot in the arm and by the '70s, healthy eating had become an industry. Vegetarians of yore -- George Bernard Shaw, for instance -- could hardly have envisioned today's world where natural-food-store chains comprise massive emporia with bowling-alley aisles and ten different kinds of nut milk. But chains are, after all, chains, and there's still something to be said for Mom and Pop. On sleepy Northside, which has long needed more retail options just such as this, the Heart-Road Traveler is a spanking-clean and personable place to pick up your yeastless bread, ginkgo biloba, and energy bars (the selection of these takes up an entire wall) -- with soft music in the background and a smiling clerk to ring it all up. It's not as big as its corporate brethren, but its heart is in exactly the right place.

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