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Big markets that feature organic food (besides Whole Foods)??

Liquid Sky Jun 13, 2007 01:05 PM

Looking for alternative markets to Whole Foods.

I live downtown, but am willing to travel (within reason).

Thank you, Hounds!

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  1. w
    WHills RE: Liquid Sky Jun 13, 2007 01:10 PM

    Wild Oats

    4 Replies
    1. re: WHills
      Liquid Sky RE: WHills Jun 13, 2007 01:22 PM

      Thanks, Hills. How do they compare to WF price-wise and selection-wise?

      1. re: Liquid Sky
        justagthing RE: Liquid Sky Jun 13, 2007 01:24 PM

        Possibly soon to become the same company. WF is looking to buy WO, but it would not be a good thing if they converted them. Prices are similar. Henry's an off shoot of WO is less expensive, but only slightly.

        1. re: justagthing
          Babette RE: justagthing Jun 13, 2007 08:42 PM

          There's some kind of legal wrangle which could block the takeover of WO by WF.

        2. re: Liquid Sky
          slacker RE: Liquid Sky Jun 13, 2007 01:26 PM

          I think Wild Oats is pretty dam expensive. So is WF, but as I recall Wild Oats is higher in the produce area.
          Go there soon, as WF is in the process of buying WO.

      2. The Oracle RE: Liquid Sky Jun 13, 2007 01:14 PM

        I've been seeing serveral "Organics" brand products at my local Vons

        Also - Trader Joe's will have a fair selection of organic products (produce, etc).

        15 Replies
        1. re: The Oracle
          nyfoodjoe RE: The Oracle Jun 13, 2007 01:23 PM

          I am so tired of this whole discussion of organic foods...Consumer Reports came out with an artice recently(forgive me, I don't have it in front of me right now) that explained that organic is really in the eye of the beholder and that standards vary from producer to producer. Whole Paycheck uses purveyors for "Organic" cheese that other chains will not touch, because it is not organic to the same degree as another purveyor. Bottm line for me is, look for foods that are produced with a minimum of preservatives and such and don't stress over organic, because the standards and practices vary somewhat widely from producer to producer

          1. re: nyfoodjoe
            Liquid Sky RE: nyfoodjoe Jun 13, 2007 01:25 PM

            I appreciate your comments, Joe. What are your favorite markets for fresh fruit, good-quality meat and good-quality seafood at "reasonable" prices?

            Would you recommend some of the ethnic markets or farmer's markets instead?

            I have been disappointed with Trader Joe's, Ralph's and Vons regarding overall quality. (Also the customer service is really lacking at times, too.)


            1. re: Liquid Sky
              justagthing RE: Liquid Sky Jun 13, 2007 01:28 PM

              Try some of the ethnic markets for your produce. I frequent the various Mexican, Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese markets as well as the farmer's markets near me.

              1. re: justagthing
                Liquid Sky RE: justagthing Jun 13, 2007 01:31 PM

                Thanks, just. Have you ever gotten meat or seafood from Grand Central Market downtown?? The meat and fish are so INEXPENSIVE there... I was worried that maybe there was a reason for that. (I was tempted to buy porterhouse steaks there, red snapper. etc.) Please weigh in on Grand Central Market.

                1. re: Liquid Sky
                  justagthing RE: Liquid Sky Jun 13, 2007 01:41 PM

                  Nope, can't help you with that last question. But with the sell through that place has, it would seem ok. Never hurts to try once (usually). I don't buy a lot of beef. When I do, it just depends on my mood.

              2. re: Liquid Sky
                slacker RE: Liquid Sky Jun 13, 2007 01:35 PM

                I just don't think there's a one-stop shop.
                For me, fruit = farmers markets. I can't bear to spend any kind of money on that horrible stuff called fruit at the supermarkets.
                Seafood = Asian markets, and also produce and some fruits.
                I don't eat a lot of meats, except chicken, and lately I've been getting really bored with the tasteless foster farms chicken from the supermarkets.

                1. re: slacker
                  budlit RE: slacker Jun 14, 2007 07:49 AM

                  Try the fresh chickens sold by the lily's eggs guy at santa monica farmer's market.

                  1. re: budlit
                    Dommy RE: budlit Jun 14, 2007 09:33 AM

                    Great to hear the good review! We buy her eggs... but only recently noticed the meat she was selling... I'll have to give it a shot! :)


                2. re: Liquid Sky
                  nyfoodjoe RE: Liquid Sky Jun 13, 2007 01:51 PM

                  truthfully, I try as much as possible to buy at farmers markets(that can be difficult depending on where you live) and selected ethnic markets. Muraki here in L.A. is a Japanese market(very nice, large, clean)for example that turns over a lot of product, so it is always fresh looking. There are some small independent produce stores opening here in the South Bay ...their produce is nice(I don't understan how they make a go of it)

                  1. re: nyfoodjoe
                    Liquid Sky RE: nyfoodjoe Jun 13, 2007 02:04 PM

                    Thanks to all of you. I don't eat a lot of meat, but every so often I have that STEAK craving. Also, I enjoyed the chicken at VONS, but can't help thinking that many chickens are injected with hormones!

                    Yes, wouldn't it be fantastic if we could get everything all in the same place? (sigh)

                    1. re: Liquid Sky
                      Chowpatty RE: Liquid Sky Jun 13, 2007 06:17 PM

                      Although I am by no means defending the mass chicken producing industry, most major brands proclaim "Hormone free" on their labels. Foster Farms, for instance, says "Our poultry is natural, containing no added hormones or steroids, artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring, chemical preservatives or any other synthetic ingredient."
                      I'm sure there are other reasons cheap, commercial chicken isn't great, but I don't think hormones are a major concern. Don't know about generic, super-cheap, supermarket brand chicken though.

                      1. re: Liquid Sky
                        markethej RE: Liquid Sky Jun 14, 2007 08:11 AM

                        It is my understanding that the use of hormones is PROHIBITED in chickens. Anitbiotics, I think are okay. Also, regarding chicken, since you live downtown, have you tried the live-kill chicken places? You have a CHOICE of chickens, including the wonderful black stewing chicken. Or, even a rooster for authentic coq au vin. They also have other poultry to choose from such as quail, squab, and ducks. Some of them even have rabbits!

                  2. re: nyfoodjoe
                    LisaStitch RE: nyfoodjoe Jun 13, 2007 02:37 PM

                    That's interesting. Isn't there "certified organic" though, which offers more regulation and consistency? I'm not very knowledgable about the issue, but I would think that at least for produce there are more standards that one could expect under this label ?

                    I like getting my produce at Gelsons. Whether I've gotten it organic or not, I've always been extremely happy with Gelsons produce.

                    1. re: LisaStitch
                      whatsfordinner RE: LisaStitch Jun 13, 2007 04:30 PM

                      I think their fish and meat departments are good too. They carry organic beef and chicken.

                    2. re: nyfoodjoe
                      Babette RE: nyfoodjoe Jun 13, 2007 08:49 PM

                      I know, especially since the FDA is possibly going to allow some 36+ ingredients which are not certified organic to be included in "organic" foods. I've tried to go the organic route but if it is a lie, why pay the big $$$? Farmers market produce grown w/o pesticides is one solution, plus trying to seek out other locally, humanely grown foods.

                      (Edit: I thought I was replying to nyfoodjoe but my comments wound up further on down).

                  3. h
                    hungrygirl106 RE: Liquid Sky Jun 13, 2007 02:13 PM

                    My preferred place to shop for organic/natural/high-quality food is the Sunday farmers' market in Hollywood on Ivar. I also like the Sunday farmers' market in Beverly Hills, which boasts an excellent, reasonably-priced fishmonger. (Not sure if fish qualifies as "organic" or if it even needs to, but it's good and fresh.)

                    Otherwise, I'll head to Bristol Farms -- expensive, but worth it in terms of both convenience and quality for meat, poultry, fish, cheese, and some produce.


                    4 Replies
                    1. re: hungrygirl106
                      Liquid Sky RE: hungrygirl106 Jun 13, 2007 03:14 PM

                      Okay, I will try Bristol Farms... thanks! Are they similar price-wise to Whole Foods? I think I have a love-hate relationship with Whole Foods.

                      Also I've actually had luch at the Fairfax farmer's market for meats and fruit. Never tried their seafood yet.

                      1. re: Liquid Sky
                        hungrygirl106 RE: Liquid Sky Jun 13, 2007 04:48 PM

                        Bristol Farms can be more expensive than Whole Foods, but the quality is great. For basic grocery items, you're better off getting stuff elsewhere (in other words, buy your cereal at Trader Joe's), but for meat, fish, cheese, produce, etc., it's worth it.

                      2. re: hungrygirl106
                        markethej RE: hungrygirl106 Jun 15, 2007 07:04 AM

                        WIld caught fish is NOT organic. Obviously there are no controls over the water or what the fishes' diet is. There are a FEW fish farms that market their fish as organic and it is VERY EXPENSIVE. I was as SM seafood the other day and WIld King Salmon is 28.99 a pound, while organic fresh frozen farmed salmon from Ireland was over 30.00 a pound. That being said, there are a couple of place the fish is being brought in from that are very clean. There is a farmed hamachi coming in from Hawaii that while it is "farmed," it is more like a free range product. They constructed 2 -200ft pilons into the oean floor, then hung nets off of them like a tent. The water in that area is really clean and the fish is excellent. The other fish worth mentioning is Tazmanian Trout which is more like a salmon. It comes from, you guessed it, the waters of Tazmania which are supposedly extremely pristine.

                        1. re: markethej
                          Liquid Sky RE: markethej Jun 15, 2007 09:44 AM

                          market: Thank you for the info! Does that mean you refuse to eat wild fish, only farmed?

                      3. f
                        Frank_Santa_Monica RE: Liquid Sky Jun 13, 2007 03:17 PM

                        The best place for organic produce is Co-opportunity in Santa Monica. You can shop there, even if you aren't a member. Right behind the "Co-op" is Erewhon on Beverly near The Grove.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Frank_Santa_Monica
                          goodhealthgourmet RE: Frank_Santa_Monica Jun 13, 2007 04:35 PM

                          erewhon is hit or miss. their pricing is random...some things are so much more expensive than whole foods while others are a relative steal. they do have a huge selection of vegan & raw offerings [in comparison to other l.a. markets], but the produce often looks pretty beat up.

                          they do have a really good prepare foods & deli counter though.

                        2. corydon RE: Liquid Sky Jun 13, 2007 08:24 PM

                          also in the expensive store category for organic produce is Erewhon and the natural food store in Los Feliz (name=Natureway I think???)

                          Good in a pinch. I buy a mix of organic and non-organic (from Jon's, AI or other asian market and local farmers markets)

                          The organic stuff is all about the FLAVOR not the VIRTUE of the purchase. The guy with the most organic stuff at the Sat Silverlake farmer's market had the ugliest damn cucumbers last weekend but once I cut it up I knew why I bought them. That flavor of crispness and clean bite and no bitterness. I think they were about dollar/lb or less

                          1. Emme RE: Liquid Sky Jun 13, 2007 10:42 PM

                            The obvious have already been mentioned including the equally pricy Bristol Farms and Wild Oats.

                            Gelson's is another, albeit equally priced for most things, option.

                            Vicente Foods is good as well, though not cheaper per se, but I always love their additional selection of local and/or lessert known and/or gourmet venders.

                            1. c
                              cheesemonger RE: Liquid Sky Jun 13, 2007 10:47 PM

                              *never mind* wrong geography...

                              1. d
                                Diana RE: Liquid Sky Jun 14, 2007 07:09 AM

                                Gelson's is my go-to place.

                                Belive it or not, it's often less expensive than Whole foods, Bristol Farms, heck, even Ralph's

                                1. Das Ubergeek RE: Liquid Sky Jun 14, 2007 07:09 AM

                                  My overall suggestion for you is Trader Joe's, but read on...

                                  I shop oddly, if "normal" is going to a big chain market and filling up a basket with what you need. If I spend $20 a month at Albertsons (or its equivalent) it's a lot.

                                  Produce comes from farmers' markets. Many of the farmers' markets are mostly-organic or organic-only. And in California, you can't call it organic unless it complies with the CA Organic Foods Act of 1990, and you go through the time and cost of certification... so while the federal government may be allowing more weird ingredients in organic food, the CA statute trumps the federal statute. There are farmers' markets every day in the LA area, year-round.

                                  Meat comes from a butcher shop -- mine is Gem Meats in Placentia, but there are plenty of good places in LA, including Marconda Meats in the permanent Farmers' Market. Some places may have organic meat, too -- I know TJ's carries it.

                                  Fish comes either from a fishmonger (Dry Dock for me, unless I've driven to work in which case I stop at Fish King in Glendale) or from an Asian market. I have bought fish and meat at the Grand Central Market and it's fine, as long as you inspect it before you buy it -- sniff the fish and the meat for "off" flavours. Also, any Japanese market will have fish (though it may be expensive if for sushi) -- try Mitsuwa in Little Tokyo.

                                  Dairy, when we have it, usually comes from Trader Joe's, since it's next to my usual farmers' market, and their organic milk costs about what a gallon of conventional milk costs at Vons. (I usually buy grains here too, because they're very cheap.)

                                  Anything I can't get at those places I try to buy at ethnic markets because they're much cheaper. For example, when there's no farmers' market open and I need cilantro, it's $0.99 a bunch at Albertsons but usually 7 bunches for $1.00 at Northgate Gonzalez. Coconut milk is $1.89 a can at Stater Bros. but $0.59 a can at any Chinese market. Limes (real limes, not green lemons) are usually $4 a pound at Ralphs but $0.89 a pound at Gigante. Are they organic? I don't know. But the quality is always excellent, because otherwise they'd have the abuelitas and lao tai tai all up in their faces yelling about "no tienes verguenza?" or "你羞不羞!"

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                    Liquid Sky RE: Das Ubergeek Jun 14, 2007 08:49 AM

                                    Das: Thank you for sucha detailed reply I'm happy I started this thread.

                                    Yes, I remember hunting all over downtown, looking for a bunch of ROSEMARY... and being unsuccessful.

                                    1. re: Liquid Sky
                                      Diana RE: Liquid Sky Jun 14, 2007 09:12 AM

                                      Try looking in people's yards. I'm amazed at how much rosemary I find just growing all over.

                                      1. re: Diana
                                        Liquid Sky RE: Diana Jun 14, 2007 09:59 AM

                                        hee, hee. We were able to do that when we lived in WeHo.

                                        Downtown is a little tougher with the yard thing...

                                  2. t
                                    thevegegirl RE: Liquid Sky Jun 14, 2007 05:16 PM

                                    this is a great thread! for organic staples/non-perishables, i do my shopping online at www.shopnatural.com. i can shop while i'm at work, have it delivered to my house, and spend my running around shopping time at farmers markets, etc. i do like trader joe's for their dairy and frozen foods - i'm not much of a meat eater... gee, with a name like thevegegirl could you have guessed.. so i have no recommendations about places to get organic meats.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: thevegegirl
                                      barcelona RE: thevegegirl Jun 14, 2007 07:31 PM

                                      Downtown LA next to California Plaza and it is open all day 7 days a week!

                                      1. re: barcelona
                                        Liquid Sky RE: barcelona Jun 14, 2007 10:08 PM

                                        You mean... a place to get meats is next to Cal Plaza? Is that another farmer's market?

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