Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Favorite Grocery Store

Here in Seattle we have a co-op grocery store chain called PCC Natural Markets.  It began as a food buying club of 15 families in 1953 and today it's the largest consumer-owned natural food retail co-operative in the United States.  I first found it when I lived in North Seattle near my son and his family and they introduced me to the local PCC, which I could actually walk to.  (There was a big hill to climb on the way back and I soon learned never to use a shopping cart in the store or my purchases would be really heavy to lug home!)  Now that I live in Renton, it's more of an effort to drive over to the closest one in Issaquah, but it's worth it the trip.  

I'm making a New Year's resolution to get there at least once or twice a month next year; once to use the 10%-off coupon I get in the monthly newsletter, and on the 15th of the month when it's 10% off for all members.  Yes, I did actually join, and their website says it's a one-time fee of $60 now, however anyone can shop here.  Members get the fee back quickly if you use the coupons.

At my old house, PCC and Whole Foods were my two closest grocery stores and I felt that just limiting my shopping to those stores probably improved my diet regardless of what I bought.  I was not buying items they don't carry - if I wanted my Starbucks frappuccinos or Campbells cream-of-something soup, I had to make a special effort to go elsewhere.

 I drove to the PCC in Issaquah last week as I knew they'd have a nice selection of gluten-free crackers for the brie and fig jam I planned to take to the family Christmas gathering, and I took some photos to show you what they have.

Right inside the door is the vegetable and fruit department, and they have an organic version of just about everything, along with many items from local farms.  They make an effort to actually know their farmers and suppliers, which makes me feel happier about the source of my food.

They have a great selection of bulk foods, including spices so I can buy just the pinch that I need, and liquids like oils and maple syrup.  I like that they carry grade B maple syrup which is so much tastier than the grade A that you get in regular grocery stores.  You can bring your own container, or buy a plastic one (BPS-free of course) that you can reuse.  The liquids in this photo are avocado oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, maple syrup, tamari and shoyu (which is soy sauce).  I still have a lot to learn about using some of these products.  This time I bought organic raisins for my Mom's raisin sauce recipe to go with the ham another family member was bringing.

It is in PCC that I found the cultured butter that I wrote about in my post on eating cultured dairy, though I haven't tried it yet.  This time I bought a quart of organic whole milk for my coffee.  I know Organic Valley brand is located in Wisconsin, but this carton makes me feel like I have my own personal friends, both farmer and cow  : )

Some other great items they carry are a large selection of probiotics, healthy packaged items like the gluten-free crackers I wanted, a selection of grass-fed pasture-raised meats and responsibly-caught fish, healthy skin-care and beauty items, and cookbooks for healthy eating.  (This is where I found the chicken feet for my bone broth, too.)  I bought Glutino whole grain crackers and these Lentil crackers and my Christmas appetizer was eaten really fast, by gluten eaters as well as the GF folks.

I'll try this brand of hair color the next time I refresh my blonde.

They actually have a great selection of greeting cards, too.  Sometimes in the grocery store or Bartells I just can't believe how dumb or objectionable some of the cards are.  These are nice.

I even found a package of salmon chews for Wilbur's Christmas.  (Boy did they smell good!)

I didn't photograph a lot of other good stuff.  It didn't seem helpful to post pictures of their great bakery items and wine section, but they have all the treats you could possibly want.  Here's where I buy our favorite Chocolove chocolate bars, too.  They have a juice bar, and a few months ago I ventured into the land of smoothies.  My first try was pretty hard-core.  I had to struggle a bit to drink my entire "Green Dream".  The next time I tried the "Aunty Oxy" - full of antioxidants and a bit more palatable with some berries.  I tried my first coconut milk latte here - not altogether satisfying either.  Even after a year of focus, I still have a long way to go to change my taste buds completely.

PCC sends a monthly newsletter, with my coupon and information about what they have this month.  In it comes a lovely 16-page magazine full of great recipes, information on topics like how to select perfectly ripe fruit, and meal and gift ideas.  Their website also has a recipe section, full of yummy and healthy ideas.

A couple of years ago I started supporting PCC by setting up a monthly donation to their independent non-profit Farmland Trust.  The trust helps to preserve farmland in Washington state and help the small farmers who use sustainable and healthy farming methods.  You can read how they actually do that here.  Here's what got me interested:
"...as we lose Washington farmland at an incredible rate—45,000 acres each year, about twice the size of Lake Washington—we are facing a future in which our ability to feed ourselves is severely compromised. PCC Farmland Trust is leading a call to action and increasing awareness about why it’s so urgent that we save what’s left of one of our most valuable natural resources: farmland. Often the farmland that is the most agriculturally valuable–flat and well-drained prime soils–is also the most desirable for development."
I want to always be able to acquire healthy food for myself and I want my kids and their kids to have that option, too.


  1. Boy, that store sounds like something I would love to have in my area. I did buy a Vita Mix blender and i just throw whatever I have on hand and it blends to perfection. It is a kitchen appliance I don't regret buying.

    1. Hi Marcia - I just discovered your comment today. Glad to hear the Vita Mix is worth it - I've considered getting one a few times. I know there's a Whole Foods in Las Vegas now - although it's on the west side. I love that store, too.

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