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Rollin’ Oats Market and Cafe

by Hilton Kean Jones on August 13, 2008

in Florida, Food

The St. Petersburg’s Mind-Body-Spirit Scene

Natural, or alternative, medicine and related movements have long been a part of St. Petersburg’s scene. In this, I include alternative spiritual and dietary philosophies. In fact, there is quite a bit of overlap amongst those three areas, which is why the St. Petersburg Body, Mind, Spirit Directory is so aptly named. It’s subtitled, “Conscious Living , Holistic Health , Natural Healing , Spirituality and Green Resources.”

Listed are resources as mainstream as massage and chiropractic medicine through acupuncture and various traditional Asian medicines on to more decidedly more alternative practices such as homeopathy. Even more speculative and controversial therapies are here, too.

Everyone has their own comfort level with all of these and, although I am interested in the others, I have my own favorites which are pretty much limited to massage and acupuncture and, to a certain extent, healthy eating. For my massage, I go to Classical Medicine of St. Petersburg. For my health food, I go to Rollin’ Oats (2842 9th St N, St Petersburg, FL; 727-821-6825).

Organic Produce

A recovering pizza-holic, I’ve actually come to enjoy veggies in other circumstances than atop dough, smothered in cheese and tomato sauce (although I will occasionally lapse and have them that way). I attribute that conversion to a health wake-up call about 10 years ago. Health awareness is something all of us share, but perhaps, older folks more than the young. Since its inception, St. Pete has been a retirement destination so it’s not surprising that it has also been, for so long, a leader in the mind-body-spirit movement. If you’ve ever seen the genuinely funny movie, The Road To Wellville, starring Dana Carvey, Bridget Fonda, Matthew Broderick, John Cusack, and Anthony Hopkins, which pokes fun at the health and diet movement that spawned the invention of breakfast cereals in the very beginning of 20th century America, you’ll see what I see when I drive down the streets of my neighborhood that is peppered with various alternative health establishments.

The abundance of fresh organic produce at Rollin’ Oats is one of the best reasons to shop there. Organic food isn’t a marketing gimmick. It’s federally regulated and, I believe, is the route to food production that would be best for our bodies and for the earth. No, I don’t buy and eat only organic food. I wish I could and did, but, as with many things in life, it’s an ideal I recognize as being very worthwhile but will probably not attain in this lifetime. It’s just that “I’m not there yet,” 100%. But, it’s gratifying to see that even Publix carries organic food now—proof that often the “alternative” becomes mainstream.

Gourmet Health Foods

Now, I’m sure you’ve picked up a bit of an attitude on my part about “health.” I confess: I used to be one of those who was convinced that those who frequent health-food stores usually looked the least healthy. As I say, I no longer hold those views and my own brush with mortality was my inspiration to change them. But still, a vestige of my rebellious self remains in that I recognize that Rollin’ Oats is MY kind of health-food store: it carries a huge selection of imported beers, wines and cheeses!

Another civilized feature that I enjoy about Rollin’ Oats is their collection of magazines. I’ve never seen so many mind-body-spirit magazines in one spot. Even if I can’t be completely pure, I can read about those who are.

Bulk Foods and Natural Products

In addition to my favorite health foods (beer, cheese, and wine), their large selection of quality organic produce, and their deli prepared meals (more on that in a bit), Rollin’ Oats carries a large selection of bulk foods.

Of course, at one time, ALL foods, everywhere, were only sold in bulk. Then came the “advance” of packaging! Of course, there’s an upside to packaging, such as preserving of foods, possibility of transportation, prevention of contamination, etc. but there’s a definite downside too: just witness our planet’s landfills. (Have you ever gone to a garbage dump? It’s an illuminating experience that everyone should do at least once in their life.) Fortunately, things have gone full circle again and, as with alternative medicines, what was once uncommon has become mainstream. Now, even big chain groceries such as Sweetbay and Publix have bulk foods…my favorite perhaps being bulk olives since they usually now present at least six different types, not just canned green or black. An entire national chain, Whole Foods Market, capitalizes on the desire of the public for healthier foods and saner packaging.

The little places, like Rollin’ Oats, were there first, though, so I prefer to frequent them. So it was that yesterday, I stopped in to replenish my supply of Dr. Bronner’s All-One-God-Faith Peppermint 18-in-1 Pure Castile Hemp Oil Soap.


Now, Dr. Bronner’s is simply the best soap there is. And, Dr. Bronner himself was ever bit as eccentric as Post and Kellogg of “Road to Wellville” fame. There’s even a fascinating documentary about Dr. Bronner, “Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox”. Check out the free YouTube video of the trailer. The full DVD is available to purchase from this Amazon link: Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox DVD – A Human Story About a Socially Responsible Company.

Quiet Dining

As I mentioned earlier, the Rollin’ Oats deli has freshly prepared meals that can be purchased and taken home or eaten right there on the premises. In a back room, accessed through an attractive, quiet wooden outdoor area, is a dining room where you can tuck into your healthy, organic meal. The food is good and the recipes and selections quite varied. Of course, they have numerous vegetarian dishes.

I think it’s time for a snack!


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lucy August 13, 2008 at 10:18 pm

Absolutely fantabulous blog, Hilton! Here in Hawaii, we tend more toward the wholesome and organic as well. It all has the same feeling that it did in California in the 70s-80s – throwback to my hippie days. I tend toward more simple vegetarian fare, even to this day, although I’ve been known to let some delicious beef and pork pass over my lips. “Moderation in all things,” I learned as a kid.


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