Wednesday, July 29, 2009

California 2009 - Day 8

I was definitely feeling better today and up for the myriad of activities that we had planned. Before heading out for a day on the town, however, I took my morning stroll, this time staying within the neighborhood. With temps here in the low 70's on a daily basis, the weather is perfect for the array of gorgeous flowers that cover many front yards. This flower photo was from just a couple blocks away, but similar displays are just everywhere. How can you not LOVE walks with so much beauty?

Ok. So on to the day's adventures. I'm sure many of you will practically fall out of your chairs at this news, but it's totally true...

UNTIL TODAY, I HAD NEVER SET FOOD IN EITHER A WHOLE FOODS OR A TRADER JOE'S!

That's right. Never. But, we fixed that glaring oversight today. Granted, I'm being a bit dramatic, but it seems I'm endlessly hearing about how wonderful they are and decided it was high time I find out what all this hype is about. And with a brand new Whole Foods opening this morning in Capitola, what better time to check it out?

I have to admit, Whole Foods was impressive. I mean, much of it was processed foods, like any grocery store, but it was almost all organic brands. You still need to do your label reading, but the choice in organics is amazing (particularly in the meat section). Another thing that was impressive was the volume of fresh foods sourced from area farms which were prominently displayed. Gotta love that. Of course, my favorite section is always the bulk food section and Whole Foods did not disappoint. I ooh-ed and ahh-ed past cereals, grains, baking supplies, nuts and the other usual suspects. But then, I entered the prepared food section divided by ethnicity - indian, asian, and a great big salad bar called for me to indulge. And it smelled soooooo good! But we had lunch plans, so with great effort, I abstained, checking out with my one California avocado.

The next stop was Trader Joe's which (other than the great bulk isle at Whole Foods) is more my kind of store. At least the one we went to in Capitola was small, quiet, and unpretentious. There were no pushy marketing displays, no sales, just good food. Much of it was branded by Trader Joe's, but ingredient lists seemed solid and they had a really nice selection.

Not that either could ever replace my true love - the farmers' market, but at least I can say that I'm no longer a grocery virgin.

By the time our grocery adventures were complete, it was time for lunch at my favorite sandwich shop, "Garden Liquors and Deli" on Soquel Drive in Santa Cruz. Dave has known Judy, the owner, since he was a kid where he once routinely swapped computer work for a hearty meal. Every time we're in town, we stop by the deli for lunch and to share the latest news. That's my veggie sammy, complete with lettuce, tomato, pickles, carrots, cucumber, and avocado on rye. Mmmm! I just can't seem to get enough of those veggies. Pile 'em on!

Then, after an afternoon relaxing back at the house with my mystery novel, Dave and I headed to the Aptos Cinema for Food Inc. I joked around with one of the other couples in the cinema that we had to fly all the way to California to see this flick since it's not being shown in our town. But truly, this was one of the things I was looking forward to.

I can't say that I learned any new information (I read ALOT as it is), but the visuals were incredibly powerful, reinforcing, and motivational. And of course, my favorite part was the end where we're told that every time we eat, we're voting and that we ABSOLUTELY have the power to change the system. Darn straight! Eat smart! Eat local! And go see this movie even if you have to fly to California. Ok maybe just wait 'til it's on video if it's not in your hometown. But see it!

Alright. Enough for today. With any luck we'll have more sunshine tomorrow and perhaps hit the beach. Night, night!


6 comments:

Beany said...

Until a few years ago I had never been inside most of the big box stores. So I'm not surprised when I hear about others not having been inside other big stores. We have a trader joes and Whole Foods within walking distance but I refuse to go there. One, their stuff costs more than the coop and two the people who frequent the place are obnoxious and the stores are poorly laid out - diagonal aisles which means people are always running into one another.

Our Sunday market has some great food vendors that I enjoy supporting - the pannini one is amazing!

Heather @ SGF said...

Beany - So tell me about the coop. I've never been involved with one. How does it work?

P.S. I LOVE panninis too (I got addicted in Italy)

Beany said...

To me a coop is like a Credit Union...it is member owned except I buy food.

Here is a brief description from my cooperative (co-op):
Simply put, a cooperative is a special form of business owned and managed by the people who provide and/or use the goods and services that the business provides. They pool resources to satisfy a common need and provide these goods and services as economically and efficiently as possible. A co-op is owned by the people who use it.

As locally owned businesses, co-ops are committed to the people they serve and the communities they live in. Owners can have a voice in what is available for purchase, as well as in the overall organization of their particular co-op. Owners get the most buying power for their money, and the money stays in the community, contributing to its economic strength.


More here

The goods are very competitively priced primarily because buying in bulk in less expensive so coops can compete with the private behemoths. In fact many times, I've been told what the markup is (often one or two cents per pound on 25 lbs of whatever I'm buying).

Heather @ SGF said...

Beany - VERY cool. So it's set up the same as any other store, but you have to be a member to shop there? Sounds like you can get some great deals. Do they carry much local food? Do you just have to ask for something if they don't carry it, or do a bunch of people have to ask for the same thing?

Beany said...

You don't have to be a member to shop, but you are charged a small percentage above your bill if you aren't. It is worth to pay the yearly membership of $15 just for the savings.

They carry a ton of local food. If I miss the farmers market I just head to the coop. Every single item is organic. They refuse to carry any product that is known to have carcinogens. So I don't have to double check every item I buy unlike TJ or WF (they carry lots of conventional produce for example). Every product's origin is marked. CA produce is marked by location (so I know my Carlsbad oranges are closer than my San Francisco oranges). Although I really like black beans the coop hasn't been able to find local/us sourced ones and they gets theirs from China. I'm scared to get any produce from China because of their history of polluting and destroying all natural resources and mistreating their workers. To date, the coop has really worked with me to get me something I want. The limiting factor is usually space. I wanted them to carry tofu in bulk so I could bring my own baggy but they said they couldn't for various reasons including a lack of space.

Heather @ SGF said...

Wow, Beany! It sounds really cool. Where do I sign up? :) Maybe we'll get one of those in Bryan. Someday...