Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Trip to the Food Co-op

I'm a lucky duck to be living in Portland for many reasons, not least of which is being able to choose between four grocery co-ops in the city.  Naturally, Matt and I joined one closest to us, and close it is- just a 10 minute bike ride.  Since moving to Portland and finding myself with some time on my hands (I'm unemployed), I decided to become a working member at Alberta Co-op.  Every week you'll find me working in the bulk herb section, which allows me a greater discount at the register and when placing special orders.

Today was Member Appreciation Day, in which owners get 15% off everything, so Matt and I took the opportunity to stock up.  While I was there, I decided to snap a few photos to give you a tour of our local food supplier!

My favorite parts of co-ops are the bulk sections.  This one contains lots of things like cereals, beans, nuts, sugars, flours, chocolate chips (3 kinds!), dried fruit, grains, and flax seeds. 

Alberta Co-op sells fair trade products when available, which is really super in my opinion!

In this bulk section you'll find items like maple syrup, wheat-free tamari, vanilla extract, agave, and vinegars.  Just bring along your preferred vessel and fill 'er up.

And here you have things like arrowroot powder, baking soda, and dry soy milk powder.

Here's my section!  I couldn't get a good shot of it due to the large crowd in the store, but you can imagine how the herbs  extend around the other side of this compartment.  The neat part: this unit actually has these huge drawers that pull out to reveal storage space for the back stock.  Pretty sweet.

This is the tea section.  The different color labels coordinate with the different classifications of tea.  Green=green, etc.

I think the produce section at Alberta is also top-notch.  The employees do a really great job in keeping everything fresh and beautiful.  There's Matt perusing the selection, deciding on dinner.

Another bulk section.  Here you'll see such items as Daiya, Tofutti Cream Cheese, Earth Balance, Vegenaise, and seitan.

Sometimes the nice people at Alberta Co-op leave food samples for customers to try.  Here we have kiwi berries and apples.

Bulk kombucha- if that's your thing.  I tried the white rose flavor and really liked it.

I haven't included all the bulk sections (like shampoo,soap, lotion, nut butters, tofu/tempeh, miso, etc.), but here's a shot of the bulk dish/laundry detergent.   Pretty snazzy.

As I said, I'm pretty lucky to shop at such a great place.  Do you have a coop near you?


  1. Bulk kombucha?! To that I say: BAKLAVA! PDX is so luxurious for food markets. I loved your tour of the coop! I'm going to head over to Food Front in Hillsdale here in a minute and go nosing around for Missionary Chocolates.

  2. The bulk vegenaise, daiya, etc. is so cool!

  3. I live a few minutes away from this place and every time I pass it, I regret not being a member! I had NO idea it was so big inside!

    I may have to re-evaluate, haha.

  4. Woa, this is the thing that makes me want to move to the pacific north west. BULK SECTIONS! I can't understand why that's not common here, it's such a great concept. I liked this post a lot!

  5. This is seriously one of the coolest things I've ever seen! We don't really do bulk here. My co-op has a cool old library index card thing full of spices & the big Whole Foods in London has some bulk beans/grains but I've never seen bulk mayo or cheese, amazing!

  6. I am coveting your co-op! The closest co-op to me is Rainbow in SF, but it's too far to make it my regular shopping spot. I dream of living near enough to a co-op like yours, it's glorious.

  7. Oh my gosh. Rainbow might be my most favorite thing about San Francisco (and as you know, there are many things to have as "favorites"). It's aaaamazing!

  8. always fascinating to see foreign shops - I have frequented co-ops in Melbourne at times but never as large as this - and unfortunately none are close enough to me for regular shopping right now - though we do have some great local shops