Thursday, April 19, 2012

locally owned alternatives to big box grocers

Food is a necessity for all living creatures. But unlike our wild counterparts, we humans have developed complex appetites that are often based on exorbitant wants rather than pure need.

We've easily created the tools necessary to satisfy our cravings. But often our modern means are not always the most economically sensible or environmentally friendly. So, in honor of Earth Day 2012 on April 22, Neighborhood Notes would like to direct your attention to some suppliers of groceries that put local food first while focusing on sustainability and supporting the local economy.

The following six establishments have become more than just grocers but community resources, and here's what makes each unique.

People's Food Co-op

SE Portland's community-owned People's Food Co-op provides more than locally sourced, healthy foods and a commitment to sustainability and its community. "Because People's is owned by the community and not by an individual," People's website states, "we can genuinely focus first on our customers and the services that we provide for them, not on the profit we make from them." With this mission in mind, People's is a hub for cooperation and collaboration, as evidenced by its full calendar of events. Held on-site in its Community Room, People's plays host to educational and hands-on activities for all ages, from cooking classes and gardening courses to movie screenings and author readings to yoga and tai chi. And outside the store, you can find People's courtyard filled with local vendors every Wednesday for the weekly farmers' market.

People's Food Co-op, 3029 SE 21st Ave., 503.674.2642

Alberta Co-op Grocery

"Good. Local. Food." That's the simple motto of the Alberta Cooperative Grocery, which strives to stock its shelves with local and sustainable goods. From its buyer's club roots, the Alberta Co-op has grown into "a community resource and gathering place" that provides "fresh, high-quality, affordable food" to residents of North and NE Portland. "We emphasize products from local, organic and socially responsible sources, and work to build connections between our customers and their farmers," states its mission. The Alberta Co-op seeks to foster this connection through an annual farm tour (in partnership with People's). This year, the all-day tour will head south to Eugene on June 9 to answer the question: "What does the organic food growing and distribution system look like?" The cost, including travel and meals, is $29 per adult or $15 for youths and low-income community members. Stop by either co-op for more details or to sign up.

Alberta Co-op Grocery, 1500 NE Alberta St., 503.287.4333

Read the rest on Neighborhood Notes.

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