Whole Foods Market has been supporting local makers and growers for years. Walk into any Whole Foods Market and you will find shelves filled with local products. About 25% of the produce sold at their stores comes from local farms, and 10-30% of the products in the aisles come from local producers.
I am a big advocate for supporting local business and eating local and fresh. Perhaps this comes from having a mom who started two of her own businesses. I also love meeting the makers themselves, hearing their stories of how they got started, how their companies grow, and I especially love trying their products.
On Sunday I had the chance to meet a handful of local vendors and sample their products at my local Whole Foods Market, Charles River Plaza. And I am excited to share these new (new to me) discoveries with you. Not only are these companies local but also each one has good business practices, whether that’s using local ingredients, 100% recyclable materials or being all-natural.
Putting a “face” behind the foods is wonderful. Getting to know the people and the companies makes me feel more connected. Before I might have walked right by the $14 bottle of Grady’s Cold Brew— cold press coffee— and thought, “what is cold press coffee and why is it so expensive”. But now I know what it tastes like. I also learned that is has less caffeine and is less acidic than regular coffee, and that one bottle makes 8 servings of coffee, making it just $1.75 per cup. Now I won’t walk by Grady’s coffee with those thoughts, now I want to buy it.
NoLa’s Fresh Foods
If you are looking for authentic Mexican salsa that is bold, fresh, and all natural then NoLa’s is the salsa for you.
Based in Jamaica Plain, NoLa’s Salsa is made with fresh ingredients that are blended together to create a robust flavor with a little bit of heat. NoLa’s only uses the freshest, all natural ingredients available, and you can really taste it in the final product. NoLa’s Salsas have no preservatives, no sugar, no oils, and no artificial colors or flavors. They are vegan and gluten free so everyone can enjoy it.
NoLas Salsas are available at Whole Foods Markets in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, in addition to a number of local grocers. For a complete list click here.
One thing I really like about Vermont Creamery is that they strive to produce the highest quality cheeses and dairy products using local ingredients while supporting and developing family farms.
The cheeses we tried were incredibly fresh, pure, and smooth, it was unlike any goat cheese I’ve had before.
The double-cream cremont combines the nutty taste from of crème fraîche, the creamy texture of Bonne Bouche, and the wrinkled geotrichum rind of our Bijou. It was delicious. I also really enjoyed the Bijou. Bijou is French for “jewel” and epitomizes all that is special about goats’ milk and the making and caring for a small cheese. This geotrichum-rinded cheese has a unique sweet and yeasty flavor.
The Flavored Crumbled Goat Cheese is a 100% all-natural goat cheese made with their award winning Chevre recipe and blended with high-quality herbs and dried fruit. There are no mold inhibitors or anti-caking agents like cellulose so there isn’t a “dry mouth feel” like that of other crumbles. Vermont Creamy makes the only “crumble” without any additives. These crumbles are perfect for salads, pasta dishes, pizza topping, gratin or grab and go prepared meals. Available in 4 varieties: Apricot & Thyme, Cranberry & Tarragon, Classic, Tomato & Basil, the latter being my favorite.
Prior to opening this Brick and Mortar ship, Travis Grillo was selling his pickles from a wooden cart in the Boston Common. It wasn’t long though before local grocers and specialty food stores took notice and decided to stock their shelves with Grillo’s fresh, all natural, hand-packed pickles. And last year Grillo’s Pickles store opened near Inman Square in Cambridge.
Grillo’s Pickles are fresh. I could notice the difference from store bought jarred pickles right away. There is no comparison. I can’t go back to jarred pickles. Grillo’s Pickles are sold at Whole Foods Market, Roche Brothers, Wegmans, Stop and Shop, Foodies, and at a few dozen other retail locations in Massachusetts. You can find Grillo’s Pickles at retail locations throughout the U.S.
Fueled by a passion for Mexican traditions, Taza chocolate grinds cacao into rustic, organic dark chocolate that bursts with bright, bold flavor and texture, unlike anything you have ever tasted. Stone ground organic chocolate is so complex in flavor, unrefined and minimally processed chocolate. Taza only uses Fair Trade cacao and only partners with cacao producers who respect the rights or workers and the environment.
The Taza Chocolate Factory Store, located in Somerville, offers interactive and educational tours. Tours run Wednesday through Sunday and only cost $5 per person. If you like chocolate then you will love this in depth and behind the scenes experience. Taza Chocolate is stocked by hundreds of retailers across the United States, as well as parts of Canada and Scandinavia.
Shy Brothers Farm
I also tasted Shy Brothers Farm’s Cloumage Cheese. This is creamy fresh cheese made on a family run farm in Westport Point, MA. Cloumage is a fresh lactic curd made from cows’ milk. When cooked, it has the texture of a baked ricotta. You can find Shy Brothers Farm cheese at retail locations and farmers markets throughout New England.
Tea-Rrific! Ice Cream is
Tea-rrific all natural tea incused ice cream uses only the best ingredients sourced locally and from around the globe and without any of the gums, stabilizers, artificial colors or preservatives that can give some commercial ice creams a heavy, cloying feel on the tongue. Like a good cup of tea itself, Tea-rrific’s flavors are intended to be light and palette cleansing. The teas are brewed fresh from loose-leaf blends and mixed with an ice cream base manufactured at Buck’s Ice Cream in Milford. The premium ice cream starts with fresh hormone free cream from local New England farms, non-fat dry milk, eggs, and organic evaporated cane juice or locally sourced honey. Then it is infused with the best specialty blends of loose leaf and herbal teas they can find.
Tea-riffic offers a food experience that is not only delicious but also incredibly unique. ‘Eating’ tea was bizarre at first but after getting over that, I thoroughly enjoyed the complex and bold flavors of each ice cream. Tea-riffic is some of the most uniquely delicious ice creams I’ve ever tasted! From Chamomile, Ginger Matcha, Masala Chai, to Chunky London Mint, made with Earl Grey tea, Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, Belgium chocolate flakes, and roasted pecan chunks; there is something for every one.
Why drink water from across the country or from around the globe when you can enjoy something even better while supporting both the local environment and economy?
Native Water is locally sourced, natural spring water from the Berkshires. Because it is locally sourced there are no long shipping routes, and it is brought to the consumer with a significantly reduced carbon footprint. The bottles are made from 100% post-consumer recycle plastic (rPET) and utilize plastic waste which would otherwise end up in landfills.
You can find Native Water in stores throughout MA, NH, RI, and CT. Native Water will be coming out with sparkling and flavored water this fall.
TuTu Muesli, a Boston based company dedicated to providing customers with fresh healthy snacks, was also at the event. Unfortunately the muesli is not gluten free BUT they are working on a gluten free, dairy free version. Stay tuned; I will update you as soon as I know when it will be available.
The last week of every month Whole Foods Charles River Plaza does in store tastings featuring local vendors. So make sure to mark your calendar and stop by on June 26th from 3-6pm to sample local products and meet local suppliers. You never know who you meet, and you might even find some new foods you love!