When we lived in Broomfield, Colorado, we shopped at the King Soopers near our house and went to Vitamin Cottage for organic produce and toiletries and recycled paper goods. Vitamin Cottage (which is apparently trying to rebrand itself as Natural Grocers) offered many of the things people find at Whole Foods for lower prices, and it is a Colorado company.

So, naturally, we looked for similar grocery stores on this trip. The first we discovered, the Good Food Store in Missoula, struck us as a Whole Foods in other clothes, but in fact it’s a nonprofit specific to Missoula. We shopped there as well as at the Albertson’s near our house.We also shopped at the Missoula farmers markets. The Good Food Store fits rights in with the Missoula ethic of building community through agriculture.

In Seattle, both the Ballard Market (owned by Town and Country) and the Ballard Farmers Market (on Sundays) were within easy walking distance—and being able to walk to get things we needed was one of the requirements of this trip.But the crunchiest market of them all happens to be in Portland, 2 blocks from the basement apartment we’re renting. The People’s Food Co-op has actually become more financially stable since it became a co-op in the 1990s (originally, it was a nonprofit). Now, instead of paying annual dues, members invest in the co-op in order to increase its assets and pay off debt from the remodel several years ago.Portland photos, Portland grocery storesHere’s a photo from the annual Harvest Fair on September 21. The Harvest Fair was an enhanced version of the weekly farmers market, the only one in Portland to stay open year-round.

The co-op building is a passive energy building. I don’t believe there’s any heating system.The co-op has square dancing the second Wednesday of every month. Unfortunately, it’s the day we’re leaving, so unless I can persuade Todd to stay for the class that night and then leave for the coast, we’ll miss it.

Shopping at these stores has helped keep our food budget fairly high, but I prefer to buy organic when I can. It’s not so much for our own health that I buy it, but to reduce pollution. That’s something I care about very much.

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