Westerly Market Means Health-Oriented Food

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Customers exchange advice while staff gives personalized service

Soup's on! Soup's always on at the Westerly Natural Market, a West Side fixture ? could it be for over 40 years? It could ? at the corner of Eighth Avenue and 54th Street.

And it's not just any soup, mes amis ? it's fresh-from-the-kettle yummy soup that just happens to be super healthy (shhhh, don't tell the kids). Whether you're on a diet that's vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free or low fat, there's a variety here for you. Some of the soups, such as the three-bean chili and vegetarian vegetable, indeed embody all of the above qualities.

Still, healthful as it is, man cannot live by soup alone ? nor would Westerly have garnered such a large repeat clientele if that was its sole claim to fame ? and so there is an extensive selection of natural groceries, vitamins, toiletries and much more stocked tall and proud in its miles of aisles. Yes, this is no closet-size operation, by a long shot. And wait ? that's just in non-perishables. There's also chilled food, frozen food, raw food, organic produce, fresh-prepared edibles, a juice bar and a partridge in a pair tree (only kidding about the last).

But Westerly has something the others don't: It's a singular store with a multigenerational following that tends to help each other out and give tips, supplementing the willing and able staff's assistance.

Monthly sales encompass oodles of products, and July is no exception. But even if you miss this one, August's is bound to be as good, and this current sampling will at least give you an idea of the range of goods: If You Care 100% recycled aluminum foil (50 square-feet, $3.79); Ethnic Gourmet frozen Indian entrees (up to 11-oz. size, $3.99); Bubbie's Sauerkraut (25 oz. jar, $5.29); Eco-Dent dental floss in vegan cinnamon (100 yards, $3.89); Plum Organics Tots baby food (4-oz. varieties, $1.59); and last but not least, Ziggy Marley's madly colorfully packaged organic hempseed in Caribbean Crunch (ah, you can smell Jamaica from here ? 6 oz. for $6.69).

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