Over two years since we started hearing the rumors, New Seasons Market finally opened a branch in our neighborhood. Well, not exactly our neighborhood... since we live a bit rural... but 8 miles closer to our house than their next-closest store. This small Portland, Oregon 11-store chain specializes in local produce, meats and dairy and is very active in the community. I cannot tell you how much this store opening so close to us will change our lives. No more driving 12 miles to buy groceries! Plus, this new store is near to other merchants we patronize. Convenient. Convenient. Convenient.The new store is in a still-under-construction shopping mall - along with homes, apartments and condos - surrounding a lake. In reality, the "lake" is an old quarry! Repurposing! The interior of the store is painted in an odd yellow/greenish tinge, to make use of the natural light coming in through skylights and abundant windows throughout the building. The lighting system automatically dims when enough sunlight fills the store! (Which wasn't happening today... just a little drizzle and plenty of clouds.) Does your neighborhood grocery store have a living room? Mine does! New Seasons has many counters with prepared foods - sandwiches, stir-fries, entrees, pizzas, salads, pastries and coffees - which are offered "to go", or you can just sit yourself down and enjoy your lunch by the fireplace, or on the outdoor patio on the rare sunny day. One night a week, they have a knitting circle in the store! Yoo Hoo! Look at the beer and wine selection! Wines from around the world and from (actually) around the corner. Prices range from $6 to $60 - something for everyone. Buy 6 bottles and save 10%; 12 bottles will get you a 20% discount! Care to relax between aisles? Sit yourself down and have a glass of wine or a cold brew! No one was at the bar... but it was a little early in the day. Hello! The cheese selection is impressive. Nearly every Oregon cheese maker is represented, but New Seasons offers varieties from around the world - plus you can pick up an organic baguette or specialty loaf from their in-house bakery.
I'm not kidding. New Seasons Market only sells local meats, and they prefer to use small family farms whenever possible. The butchers are famous for their house-made sausages and they also offer nitrite-free (turkey or pork) bacon. At New Seasons Market, salmon comes from the ocean, not a farm. I bet when you think of beef, you think of Texas. Think again - this gorgeous beef is from Oregon, and not one ounce of it has ever seen an antibiotic, hormone or a cage. This is my favorite section of New Seasons Market and where we spend most of our time and food dollar - produce! Beautiful, organic produce! Many of the items have samples sliced, so you can try before you buy. This looks fun - a "make your own" trail mix bar. Organic, naturally. Plenty of check-out counters (no self-check-out) with super friendly clerks and grocery baggers. DT and I were so happy with the store and so excited about the convenient location!
New Seasons is not the cheapest store in town. We pay the true price of food. (I will not go on a rant about farm subsidies and mega-food corporations, okay?) I only wish every neighborhood had a New Seasons Market. I was inspired to serve a tomato and hearts of palm salad this evening. Since it's suddenly soup weather in Oregon, I made a quick pot of fresh corn soup.
Until my next update, I remain, your local and organic correspondent.