The Produce section appears almost to be in technicolor. And (if it's possible) the Deli, Meat, and Seafood counters also offer the same beauty usually only constructed by food stylists with inedible products. The Bakery is undeniably home to some fine artisans and craftsmen who give "fresh" a new name. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a single offering of anything gluten-free; which--I must say--was quite disappointing. I would imagine that these bakers and pastry chefs have the ability and knowledge of the science of baking necessary to create some darn good gluten-free products. Perhaps they're worried about cross-contamination or that the gluten-free goods will become the ugly stepchildren to the glamorous golden Asiago and Sundried Tomato bread?
The Packaged Goods and Freezer sections contain a surprising mix of mainstream and specialty products. Bella Cucina products reside alongside Pepperidge Farm products. However, there are no clear gluten-free labels, and there is no designated gluten-free section. The gluten-free products' list they offer is a basic Excel spreadsheet compiled on-the-fly by store employees, and it is by no means complete. This would not have been such a shock several years ago, but in today's world, it felt odd.
If you are looking for a way to spend some time reading and decoding labels (in a space that is just waiting to make its Food Network debut) this is where you would want to be. And, while you will spend time in the search, the prices are highly competitive. For reasons still unknown, I happen to have memorized the price ranges of Alexia frozen french fries. Fresh Market offers these for an astoundingly low $2.19, as opposed to the typical $2.79 range. Impressive for a place with such an air of glamour and luxury.
It's true: The Fresh Market has not yet jumped on the Gluten-Free Friendly Marketing Bandwagon. Perhaps they have not yet been informed of the statistics showing 1 in 133 people are likely to have Celiac Disease, and the countless others (such as those with autism and fibromyalgia) who benefit from following a gluten-free diet.
It wouldn't be surprising, though, if within the coming months--as the Gluten-Free Diet itself continues to go mainstream--Fresh Market follows suit. While it certainly is not competitive on the grounds of being "Gluten-Free Friendly" like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Wegmans; for those who maintain their gluten-free diets primarily through fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses, Fresh Market offers a new beautiful--and relatively affordable--option.
Currently, the only Fresh Market in Maryland is located in Quarry Lake, 2510 Quarry Lake Drive, Baltimore, MD 21209. There will be a second location opening in Annapolis.