Friday, March 30, 2012

Shopping small-scale: Grocery shopping with intention

Because I make a concerted effort to buy locally and in season, I make several small trips for groceries each week. I don't mind, and in fact I enjoy the opportunity to buy fresh things every few days. I usually spend between $20-30 per trip, and try to get "ingredients", as my mom would say, so I am ready to make a variety of dishes.
My grocery haul for the day 

When our Downtown Ypsi Farmers' Market starts back up, I'll shop there each week, but in the off-season, I head to the Ann Arbor FM, or like today, the Ypsi Food Co-op. If you have a food co-operative near you, I suggest you check it out.

Co-ops often have competetive pricing to larger box stores, and a great focus on sourcing local products and produce. Their focus on quality, healthy food is inspiring, and their desire to provide local options and source products from local businesses both large and small means I will always be a loyal customer there.

When I head to the co-op for a grocery run, I start by heading straight to the produce section and looking to see what's locally-grown. The fruits and veggies I purchase will form the basis of my meals, so I like to get inspiration in the produce aisle to start. This week I found locally-grown spinach, baby bok choy, basil, a variety of herbs, beets, radishes, arugula, as well as some storage apples- whoa!! I picked out bok choy, which I'll use in soba noodle soup, basil to flavor various dishes, spinach for one of my favorite salads, and Fuji apples which I will bring to work for a snack. 

Over in the Dairy aisle, I'm always greeted with a variety of local and healthy choices of milk, cheese, and yogurt. I always pick up milk from Calder Dairy, and I like to get cheese for an afternoon snack. Eggs, tofu and other refrigerated items are in this aisle as well, and although I get my eggs farm-delivered, the co-op's eggs help to tide me over when I've run out too early.

On the bread rack is a variety of bread products, both local and not- I enjoy the Barry Bagels from Ann Arbor, and today I chose some Scallion and Dill bread from Avalon Bakery in Detroit (it's delicious!).  The bread will be toasted with some jam for breakfasts this week!

The bulk food section at your local food co-op is an inspiring place to go. Beans, rice, cornmeal, flour, granola mixes, nuts, herbs & spices, coffee, and looseleaf teas are just some of the items you'll find there. On this trip, I got some polenta meal to replenish my stocks- polenta is a quick dinner meal, and easy to customize to my liking.

My last stop is the soap aisle, where I fill up our bottle of Dr. Bronners soap, as needed. I'm pretty sure we've had that bottle for 4 years! There is also bulk shampoo & hand soap, so I bring in our soap dispenser to refill those things too. It's a bit cheaper to refill than it is to buy, and saving the use of a few bottles is nice as well.
Where do you do your grocery shopping? Have you found a natural foods store or a Co-op by you that meets your shopping needs?

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