How Drive-Through Market Swiss Farms Is Becoming a Surprising Destination for Healthy Eaters

by Adjua Fisher | May 3, 2016 1:30 pm

Swiss Farms | Photo via Facebook

Swiss Farms | Photo via Facebook

I’m told that if you grew up around Philly, you probably have some fond memories of stopping at Swiss Farms[1], a drive-through market that’s been around since 1968 and has 13 locations throughout Delaware and Chester counties. I did not grow up here, so I don’t have any Swiss Farms sweet tea-related memories to share, but I am very into the idea of a drive-through market — who knew grocery shopping from your car was a thing? — especially one that is now making a serious effort to offer healthier options to customers.

Audrey McKenna Hasse, a Delaware County-based dietitian (and also the lovely lady responsible for all our killer weekly workouts[2]), was recently added to the Swiss Farms team and assigned the task of overhauling the shelves of the drive-through market’s 13 locations to replace not-so-good-for-you foods (think: Doritos) with healthier options (think: non-GMO, 90 percent organic Deep River Snacks Honchos Nacho Cheese tortilla chips). 

Hasse’s role is to look at every item in the stores and decide whether it should stay or go. But she isn’t simply judging items based on their nutrition labels — she’s also considering whether foods, while not so great for your waistline, have a special place in people’s hearts (hi, Tastykakes). As Hasse, who grew up going to Swiss Farms herself, says, “There’s a nostalgic piece of Swiss Farms that people love and we really want to preserve that nostalgia. We’re really looking to balance good-for-you products with local favorites.” That means you can take solace in knowing items like Swiss Farms’ teas and lemonades, their grab-and-go chicken salad, and local favorites like Tastykakes and Herr’s chips won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. The idea is, now you’ll just have healthier options to fill your grocery bag with, too.

For instance, now you can pair some fresh-cut, Lancaster-grown fruit, a new addition to the drive-through’s offerings, with your Tastykake. While certain items that Gwyneth Paltrow would totally scold you for eating will stay on the shelves, when it comes to new items, Hasse has some requirements that will put a smile on most Goop readers’ faces: She tells us when it comes to new products to bring into the stores, she’s looking for labels that are free of artificial flavors, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, hydrogenated fats and GMOs.

Like what, you ask? Well, when it comes to new items they’ve already added, Hasse tells us they started their makeover by tackling the snack category, bringing in more high-protein options like Krave Jerky, a staple amongst the CrossFit crowd, the fresh-cut fruit — a big hit — mentioned above, BoomChickaPop popcorn, and more. Then there are more dinner-friendly picks like Amy’s Organics frozen foods, Alexia organic frozen fries, Annie’s organic mac and cheese, and more items you’d find at, well, Whole Foods. Hasse also tells us they are thinking about partnering with local CSAs to have Swiss Farms locations serve as pick-up spots, and they also have some ideas about getting cage-free eggs on the shelves. (The stores already offer local eggs and farm-fresh milk free of antibiotics and added hormones.)

But, as Hasse says, “It’s just the beginning. Our end goal is to be a destination that people come to to be the solution in their busy lives. We want to offer better-for-you products, while also letting you get those indulgent things.” Because sometimes a busy person who is grocery shopping from their car because they are too tired to walk (we’ve all been there, right?) just wants a damn Tastykake — washed down with a swig of organic apple juice.

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