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Harvest Co-op Markets: Has anyone been?

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  • icculus Nov 14, 2005 03:59 PM

I came across a site called ecofish.com today and made an inquiry as to where in the Boston area I could find their products.

Has anyone shopped here? Sounds a bit like a WholeFoods/Trader Joes with a stronger organic focus?

Link: http://www.harvestcoop.com/pages/stor...

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  1. I'm not all that impressed with the one in Central Square, especially compared to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. The produce is often wilty or otherwise not fresh, and the prices in general are often much higher than Whole Foods. As much as I like the idea of supporting a local place, I just can't justify paying more for less.

    Others may disagree, though...

    5 Replies
    1. re: EliseM

      i think harvest in central square is decent but isn't a stand-alone store (by which i mean that i couldn't do ALL of my grocery shopping there- i'd have to supplement it with WF, trader joes, and possibly star market). harvest has decent produce (organic is better than the regular), a good selection of organic cereals/granolas/nuts, etc. a decent wine selection, and all the power bar type stuff one could possibly want. that said, one doesn't save that much money shopping at harvest instead of WF (and i'd argue that trader joes is probably cheaper).

      1. re: little lady

        I usually use it as a 'pop in' kind of store when I'm getting off the T on my way home (I live on Mass Ave). I almost never go to Whole Foods unless I'm looking for something special so for me the choice is generally between Shaws or Harvest. In general (and obviously) prices are higher and selection poorer at Harvest then Shaws but Harvest hits a pretty good mid-point between Shaws & WF and is the most convenient for me to get to.

        1. re: JG

          Unlike the poster above who has had problems with the bulk items in JP, I'm fairly happy with the bulk stuff in the Central Square store. I don't shop there a lot but go when I need a little bit of a bulk item (like nuts or an odd grain) that I don't want to have to buy a full sized package of. I think they have normal to decent prices on their fair trade coffees, but not being a coffee specialist, can't vouch for the taste.

          MiriamTeresa

      2. re: EliseM

        It wasn't always that way. I feel like the overall quality was much better before the big image/space overhaul a few years back. Too bad. I agree on the high pricing, too, which was never the case back in the day either.

        1. re: MB

          I agree. Absolutely! I've shopped at the Central Sq. location for the better part of 10 years, and in the past 5 years I've only stopped in a few times per year. Poorer quality and higher prices, which is really too bad.

      3. The one in JP is pretty good, but I don't buy a lot of packaged foods, and tend to stick with the fruits and vegs, dairy/eggs, poultry (Allen's natural chickens, yum), cheese and wine selection. The produce is hit or miss, but not more expensive than WF. The JP store does have local produce, and occasionally local organic, but you can't plan on going there looking for something in particular-- it's better to just buy what looks fresh. It's much smaller than WF or TJ's, and doesn't have the range of products, but it's a fair enough selection. They do seem to have a decent array of canned and boxed vegetarian and organic options.

        However, I've had bad luck with their bulk items (dried out, or buggy, or just not tasty), and buy in bulk only from WF as a result.

        2 Replies
        1. re: emdb

          "but you can't plan on going there looking for something in particular-- it's better to just buy what looks fresh."

          That's right up my alley, wherever I may be shopping. I'm a strong believer in not having a grocery list (granted I only cook about 4 dinners a week).

          Thanks for the feedback

          1. re: emdb

            I shop at the JP site quite frequently. Best local prices on yogurt, eggs, miso, and the Garelick Farm's single (not ultra-) pastuerized products. I buy all my dairy here, instead of at Roche Bros. I likewise stick with "what looks good" in the produce and meat sections, although I find their Allen's chicken selection is always good. Their "gourmet" cheese prices are good, and they occasionally have nice suprises-- like Petit Basque or La Tur. I don't buy a lot of bulk, but I have never had a problem with their bulk rice or whole wheat couscous or nuts.

            I do like the new & expanded wine selection, and they are the only ones who sell my favorite cheapo Malbec, called "Ique." They also have the full range of Torres wines from Spain.

          2. The best part of the Harvest Co-op at Central Sq is the Wall O' Spice. They have an amazing bulk spice section. The stuff is very fresh and the selection is the best I've ever seen in a non-online store.

            As for the rest of the store, I mostly go there because it's very convenient. I need to look into finding a WF or TJ on the T, so I can have more options.

            1. I went to the deli in Central Square once. I ordered a smorgasboard of stuff, ate it there. Everything was a disappointment. Ranged from bland to disgusting. It's also a not-so-pleasant environment. Whole Foods is a few blocks a way, and much preferable.

              1. Was there today actually. I feel like it's gone downhill over the years, though I do like it as a place to buy yeast (as I love to make bread) as well as bulk items (flours, spices, nuts, grains, etc). I typically go there every few months to buy this stuff as they have better selections/prices than other places do. I have to say though, the cases w/ the ready to serve food do not look appetizing and I would not order from them just due to the way it looks (maybe the stuff is good, but it doesn't look appealing to the eye when you go by it). For veggies/fruits I'd rather go to the Farmers' Markets in town and during off season to Whole Foods.

                1. ah but they have better bread and cookies than WF. Imo. I can't remember the name of the bread that I liked so much, but the cookies were Tate's Bake Shop. (they have a website at www.tatesbakeshop.com) They were very thin and crispy chocolate chip cookies. Usually, I like chewy and soft, but for some reason, these cookies are supergood. They're a rich brown color and just delightful!

                  Also---you can get small pieces of yummy cheese at Harvest for a coupla bucks.

                  Russo's a good place to go if you want to save money, though. (in Waltham). They sell some of the same products as Whole Foods for much less, par exemple: a crock of olive oil $22 at WF is $17 there, and I saw a HUGE jar of raw honey for just $9. Really big. Stonewall Kitchen jams are $5.5 instead of $8 at WF. Also, Maple Butter (it comes in a round paper container---if you shop at WF's you've seen it) is a bit cheaper than at WF.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: claire ab lani

                    Those Tate's Bake Shop cookies (which, I agree, are amazing) are also available elsewhere -- I've seen them at WF and at one or two other places that I can't think of at the moment.

                  2. In a quest to eat more local, organic food, I spent the summer picking up my produce share from the Red Fire Farm CSA in the parking lot of the Central Square Harvest Coop and then doing any additional shopping I needed to do right there ta the coop. This was a very convenient and effective way to Really eat local and organic.

                    However, as the summer went along, I would get frustrated that various kinds of meat were not at the coop, or the prices on household/cleaning type items. I started adding little side trips to get certain things at Whole Foods, TJs or Shaws. However, regarding the prices...I complained about the prices a lot when I first started shopping at the coop, but I realized in the end I actually spend a lot less there than at Whole Foods because WF is so savvy to how to get shoppers to make spontaneous purchases that weren't on their shopping list that I frequently ended up treating myself or trying things right and left and blowing my budget.

                    1. good call- used to be a better market. they do sell harry's pretzels, though. i stopped going after watching someone grind oats in the coffee grinder.................

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: missthebagelsbadly

                        I don't really like the one in JP... Thought they do have a good selection of vitamins, homeopathic stuff. It was dirty when it was "Arborway" (or Robberway as I used to call it) and it's just as dirty now.. why can't places be clean?

                      2. I've wandered through the Central Sq location a few times (generally when I'm in Central for other reasons) and have been deeply unimpressed - produce quality seems mediocre, prices are at least on the WFM level. I'd rather go to whole foods...

                        1. I agree the store itself is nothing impressive and wicked expensive compared to the likes of Traders Joe, buuuuuuuuuuuut there is a farmers market on Mondays in the summer in their parking lot and although small they have a great selection of venders. If you are looking for organic produce there is a great one from a farmer up in Ashfield, Mass. She, her husband and two children tend to the farm.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Boston Scene

                            Both the JP and Central Square locations seem dirty to me too,

                          2. I agree that both JP and Central Square have gone downhill in recent years, although the JP Harvest is still the best bet for those without a car in the area.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: leilacohan

                              screw that, I get a zipcar and go to market basket in Somerville. In fact, the Shaw's in Back Bay is better than the options in JP.