The Food Mill has been family owned and operated since 1993, though the store has been supplying organic and natural groceries since the '30s. More mom and pop than a supply stop on the Oregon Trail, The Food Mill carries the area's largest selection of bulk foods, vitamins, and supplements, as well as an extensive selection of organic produce. Pick up packaged pastas and Japanese food products alongside packaged nuts and top it all with allspice, cayenne pepper, and other spices. Gluten-free and specialty foods are found in abundance, as well as extremely helpful staff members (not for sale). They can help you round up the ingredients for a recipe or point you toward the supplement best suited for treating trench foot.
All three Real Gourmet selections will arrive in one delivery that includes everything necessary to get cooking. Each kit comes with easy-to-follow directions to transform local, sustainable ingredients into edible works of art in 30 minutes or less. Entrees feed one person or two hobbits and a hamster. Cook! SF's meal options are available in the only four food groups known to man: healthy comfort food (a $12.95 value), meat lovers (a $14.95 value), sustainable seafood (a $15.95 value), and vegetarian (a $12.95 value). Though the menu changes weekly based on seasonal varieties, recent recipes have included fennel and coriander-spiced wild Alaskan salmon, grilled flank steak with watermelon relish, and Tuscan bean soup with kale and a side of brown rice. Check out this month's full menu here and more on the simple ordering process here.
Alameda Natural Grocery specializes in providing affordable natural and organic foods in a neighborhood-market environment. The store features a produce department that's 99% organic 100% of the time and 25% sentient 1% of the time, fresh dairy products, bountiful bulk buys, and a helpful staff that radiates healthy, edible vibes to nibble on while shopping. Pick a peck of non-pickled pleasantries such as stone fruits from Blossom Bluff Farms for $2.99 or an open pint of strawberries from Yerena Farms for $2.29. All-natural Brown Cow yogurts ($0.99 per cup) are on hand for later spoon feeding narrated by airplane sound effects, while Renew Life fish oils ($15.99–$23.99) are available in the supplements and personal-care departments for diving into the fast track toward improved health.
In 1976, two UC Davis graduate students bought 20 acres of land in the highly arable Capay Valley. One of the students, Kathleen Barsotti, was working toward her master's degree in ecology and was determined to grow vegetables and fruits in an eco-friendly way: organically. The organic-food movement hadn't yet entered the public consciousness, and Kathleen worked overtime to convince restaurants, stores, and consumers of the taste-able merits of her process. Over time, given the possible health and environmental benefits of certified organic food, she succeeded. The farm sprouted to 300 acres to accommodate the increased demand. Today, a second generation runs the farm as well as a shop inside San Francisco's Ferry Building. Dubbed Farm Fresh To You, the store furnishes customers' bags or portable cornucopia horns with all sorts of soil-sprouted goods, including heirloom tomatoes, sweet peas, and fresh asparagus. The farm also teams up with fellow Yolo County and Pacific Northwest farms to deliver boxes of seasonal produce to area homes.
For Books Inc., it's been a long road, and if you trace the lines back to its origins, it's California's oldest bookstore. After striking gold—literally—back in 1851, Anton Roman set up shop as a bookseller. Although the shop moved, was sold, burned down, changed hands again, and was rebuilt, the spirit remained intact, and today, multiple locations of the indie bookstore have sprouted up across The Golden State. Staff members keep the shelves lined with classic and contemporary tomes in all genres, and a myriad of book clubs help keep the love of literature alive. They also run a vibrant event program featuring author events and readings where patrons can enjoy an experience they can't download.
One of the nicest things about Jump Start Coffee & Whole Foods is the way that the smallish shop interacts with its earlybird customers. Locals freshly roused from their homes in the hills, commuters greeting the newness of the day on their walk to the 24th Street BART station; all are welcome inside for a simple sunrise pick-me-up. A notch above the standard first-thing-in-the-morning café – and more full-service than corner stores that sell liquor, cigarettes and sad produce -- Noe Valley's Jump Start is a simple neighborhood classic. It's a deli that caters to the local work-from-home crowd and a coffee shop where ordering an extra shot of espresso won't get you the evil eye from the purist barista. Any day that starts with a bagel and a schmear from this happy-go-lucky spot is going to be just fine.