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Mary's Modern Homemaking
Grocery Outlet: Supporting Local Food Producers
There is a new store in Maple Valley, Wash., with a rather plain name: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market. Yes, it's an outlet store. Yes, you can get bargains there. But don't let the name fool you.
Grocery Outlet Bargain Market brings you lower prices as well as fresh foods from local farmers.
With headquarters in Berkeley, Calif., the privately owned company has been in business since 1946 and is now run by the third generation of the founding family. There are more than 170 stores throughout the Northwest, with Washington State having the second most stores (over 40). Each store is operated by local families who hire local employees. When I applied to work at the Maple Valley store, I was told they wanted to hire only people who lived within a certain radius of miles. Luckily, I qualified!
The Mack family proudly opened the Maple Valley location, which is just south of Seattle, on January 24, 2013. The Macks work very hard to support local suppliers and growers as much as the law allows them. Unfortunately, the federal government has put restrictions on small farms, and it is sometimes difficult for major stores to work through all the red tape involved. While Grocery Outlet tries hard to bring local produce to the community, there are government laws that make it very difficult for any store to entirely support small family-run farms. It is, however, worth the time to stop in to see what they can offer.
Although you will find many local products, don't expect to find the same ones every time you shop. Grocery Outlet is an "opportunistic" store, meaning that the managers buy overstock from suppliers at a discount. This saves the customer a lot of money, but it means that it is impossible for them to carry the same products consistently. However, one-fourth of the store's inventory, such as dairy products and vitamins, stays pretty much the same. If you think of the changing stock as an adventure, you will certainly enjoy shopping here: you never know what you will find!
Many products will be what you can find at any supermarket but at greatly reduced prices. Still, the gems are the locally produced goods and worth looking for. Now follow along as I give you a glimpse of some of these local products.
The biggest supplier in the canned goods section is headquartered in Oregon's Willamette Valley. Look for items from the Truitt Brothers. Their products are certified, sustainable, and traceable to the farmer. The brothers' mission is to provide the season's freshest, tastiest fruits and veggies. Among other produce, they offer a wide selection of beans: black, garbanzo, kidney, navy, and pinto beans. All their produce is packed at its peak in convenient recylable packages. Be on the lookout for the wonderful variety of hummus and dips. From Bean Dip to their Three Bean Salad, there is something to please everyone.
In the dairy department you will find some of the items Grocery Outlet carries all the time, such as eggs, butter, milk, and a large variety of alternative milks for those with allergies and special dietary needs.
My family eats a lot of eggs, and since we no longer raise our own chickens, it's wonderful to know that I can buy fresh ones. Cherry Lane Eggs is a family-run farm that has teamed up with the National Food Corporation to set standards for healthier eggs. In 1956 the farm was established in the Seattle area. They changed the name to Cherry Lane and relocated to Everett, Wash. The family now owns and operates their own feed mills and farms for pullets and layers. They have processing plants and distribution centers in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and South Dakota. This family believes that controlling every aspect of the egg cycle enables them to assure their products are of the highest quality. This attention to detail has made them the nation's largest producer of organic cage-free eggs.
Grocery Outlet obtains milk from Country Morning Farms, located in Warden, Wash. A nice variety of butter, cheeses, and other dairy products free of rBST, a growth hormone, are supplied under the familiar brand name of Tillamook.
Fresh fruits and veggies
Among the gems in the produce section you will find are three different kinds of potatoes: red, yellow, and regular baking spuds, better known as russets. Both the yellow and russets are sold through Tri-Cities Produce, which is a co-op in the Skagit Valley.
I really enjoy the sweeter taste of the yellow variety, which is grown by Pioneer Potatoes, a fifth-generation owned and operated family farm. The first generation migrated to Skagit Valley from Sweden in the late 1800s.
You will be amazed at the many varieties of apples available, most of them locally grown. I almost always choose Braeburns for my family. These apples are sold under the Trout Farm family name and grown along beautiful Lake Chelan. To learn more about this area's produce, visit the Chelan Fresh website.
Another apple producer, specializing in juices, applesauce, and fruit snacks, is Tree Top, a co-op company based in Selah, in the heart of Washington's apple country. As of this writing more than 1,000 apple and pear growers belong to the co-op.
I love juicy Washington State apples flavored with cinnamon, so I'm sharing the recipe for a tasty treat that you can enjoy for breakfast or any time.
Serve warm for breakfast, or with ice cream for dessert.
Mary Frances lives in Ravensdale, Washington, and loves finding healthy ways to keep her castle clean. She believes that what we clean with can be just as important to our health as what we eat. When she's not cleaning, Mary Frances battles the blackberry vines in her yard. Also enjoy Mary Frances's blog, All American Gal.
Mary's Modern Homemaking copyright 2013.