I’m kind of turning into a food snob. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the occasional McDonalds hash brown and I have a wonderful (though incredibly unhealthy) relationship with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but I try to give myself the best food possible. There is this stigma that shopping for healthy food means you’ll be paying a lot more money, and I understand that families are on a budget and college students like beer and Wings Over Burlington. Thankfully we are blessed to have a local co-op that provides a range of healthy food and good prices.
Formerly known on Onion River Co-Op, City Market Co-Op is a quick five minute walk from campus. Unlike some health food stores which are geared towards people with money, City Market has a diverse shopper’s base of college students, immigrants, and families. I went there to talk to Caroline Homan who specializes in helping people shop on a budget. If you go to Price Chopper or Shaw’s you’ll be paying a lot more for organic produce and healthier processed food. Homan tells me the reason is because state co-op’s band together so they can buy a lot of boxed or canned food that is healthier in bulk. They then can turn around and sell it to us at a lower price. Produce is going to be cheaper at a co-op because quality isn’t a commodity and instead strives to be the norm. They still offer options like conventional, organic, and local, so you don’t feel forced to buy just one type. She suggests buying produce that doesn’t have a thick peel, like apples and leafy greens, in the organic form when possible because they protection against pesticides isn’t as good, whereas items with thick skins, like avocados and oranges, can be bought conventionally. When trying to figure out confusing per pound prices, look for items that cost less than $3 per pound. These foods tend to not spoil as quickly and you’re getting the best value. Eating what’s in season will also keep down the cost. As tasty as they are, I’m not sure how I feel about the $6 per pound bell peppers!
Another amazing part of City Market is the bulk section, which is located by the teas. You can get: rice, pasta, flour, candies, spices, types of peanut butters, nuts, cookie, oils, and even lavender soap! This section is great for the times you want to try out a new recipe, need a little bit of cocoa powder, and don’t want to get an entire container. You can get a snack size amount of chocolate covered pretzels for 58 cents and you can see if you like almond butter worry free. City Market also have a sandwich making stand and a hot food and salad bar that I would recommend vegans and vegetarians check out, though, you meat eaters will love the chicken wings. If you want to recreate the dish in our own kitchen just ask the front desk and they’ll e-mail you the recipe.
Another can shop at the co-op, but if you go there often enough you’ll probably wan tto see some savings and benefits. City Market has three options for added discounts and college students can easily join. One is becoming a capitalized members. You pay $15 dollars a year and hold a share of the company. At the end of the year you get a percentage of how much you spend back. The average this past year was $80! Once you’ve been there long enough too have paid $200, assuming you stay in Burlington after graduation, you’ll become a life member and won’t have to pay anymore dues. You can also get discounts at businesses in Burlington like 10% off at Battery Street Jeans and many other places. Another option is to become a working member. You can volunteer at City Market or an affiliated business for 2 hours a month and get a 7% discount for the following month. You can also volunteer for 4 hours and get a 12% discount. Now everyone has a few hours lying, so why not become more involved in your community and take advantage of this great opportunity to eat amazing food.
If you bike there, bring in your bike helmet and get 5% off your total
Bring a reusable shopping bag and save 5 cents
Keep on being mindful!