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Best bulk items at your local co-op?

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Midwest 'hounds, what are the best bulk bin items at your local co-op or grocery store? I shop at Mississippi Market in St. Paul and they have a nice selection of bulk bins. Dried fruits and nuts and such.

My favorite bulk item lately is New England Naturals' "Tex Mex Trail Mix"--which is hot cajun corn sticks, taco sesame sticks, dry roasted pumpkin seeds, cajun peanuts smoke roasted almonds. (I had to look that up...I didn't have it memorized.) It's so crunchy and spicy and addicting.

What's especially good at your co-op? I hardly ever branch out because I love the Tex Mex Mix so much, but I might branch out if someone knew of something even better. Since this is a "Midwest-wide" thread, please name your city & state, along with the name of your co-op:

St. Paul, MN: Mississippi Market: Tex Mex Trail Mix

Thanks!

~TDQ

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  1. What a great question! My local co-op is Linden Hills and they have some amazing bulk bin items and one I miss and have to pick up at the Wedge (Fantastic Foods Vegetarian Chili Mix).

    Peppermint - This is an item I find I send to more people than frankly I'd like to. One year for Christmas when I had little money I sent everyone a little gourmet kit composed of bulk teas and spices. Once you've tried fresh-dried (oxymoronic I realize but it's the best description I can come up with) peppermint you'll never reach for a peppermint tea bag again.

    In the same vein, Vanilla beans. Half the price of Penzy's and just as tasty.

    Pecans
    Walnuts
    Couscous
    Cornmeal

    I'll have to try the trail mix but may I ask what's in it?

    -----
    Linden Hills Co-Op
    2813 W 43rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55410

    Wedge Community Co-Op
    2105 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55405

    1 Reply
    1. re: MplsM ary

      The Tex Mex trail mix has hot cajun corn sticks, taco sesame sticks, dry roasted pumpkin seeds, cajun peanuts, and smoke roasted almonds.

      The peppermint sounds intriguing--and I love peppermint tea, especially now, when summer heat is at its peak. Maybe I should see if Miss Market has it. Here's the places link for both Mississippi Markets, btw.

      ~TDQ

      -----
      Mississippi Market Food Co-Op
      622 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55104

      Mississippi Market Food Co-Op
      1810 Randolph Ave, St Paul, MN 55105

    2. My local co-op: Seward in Minneapolis. My favorite bulk items:

      Dark chocolate almonds. I'm addicted to these wonders. I used to think that co-op chocolate wasn't that good, but these are great! (It's not pure chocolate, though - it's chocolate plus sweeteners and other ingredients. But it tastes good anyway.) I think the almonds are available in most - if not all - of the Twin Cities co-ops.

      Brown Basmati rice. This stuff is so good that I've been known to ignore the main dish and just eat the rice.

      Dried Blueberries. Although the berries have gotten larger lately - they used to have tiny dried blueberries, which were tastier - these are plenty yummy. I put them in my weekend oatmeal (the weekday stuff gets currants, raisins, or cranberries).

      And another vote for the vanilla - it's good quality and WAY cheaper than vanilla at specialty or gourmet stores (like Penzey's).

      Anne

      -----
      Seward Co-op Grocery and Deli
      2823 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

      1 Reply
      1. re: AnneInMpls

        seward also has those awesome dried cranberries they get from grandy oats-- maybe all the co-ops have them now but i know i got them first from seward. they are awesome & chewy, not hard at all and not fake tasting the way some are.

      2. Ooooh.

        I'm still a member of Linden Hills Co-op on 46th & Upton, Minneapolis, from way back when I lived on that side of the river.

        Now my neighborhood co-op is Mississippi Market on Selby & Dale, St. Paul. They carry Castle Rock Creamery milk (local, organic, unhomogenized) in returnable glass quart bottles. I was delighted to find this after Cedar Summit Farms moved to offering quarts only in paper cartons. They also carry fiddleheads every spring, yay.

        I also shop at the Seward Co-op on Franklin & 21st Ave, Minneapolis, because it's on the way home from everything else. They have an almond granola from the Seward Cafe that is my absolute favorite, and which doesn't show up in the other stores. Not too sweet, and the perfect accent of toasted sesame seeds. Also, Seward Co-op has those terrific chalkboards in the produce department where they describe items that are local, peaking, or special. Even the one with short notes about season, availability, quality of items from different geographies is cool.

        14 Replies
        1. re: KTFoley

          You bring up a good point and one I don't think people realize: If you join a co-op (at least in the Twin Cities) it's a one-time fee for a lifetime membership. The reason I live where I do is because I wanted to stay close to my co-op.

          1. re: MplsM ary

            o i thought that some co-ops are yearly membership fee (miss market) and some are lifetime (hampden park)? wrong?

            1. re: soupkitten

              Mississippi Market is a one-time only fee.

              1. re: clepro

                kay gottit!

              2. re: soupkitten

                You're right - there are differences.

                Many area co-ops are part of the "Twin Cities Natural Food Co-ops" group - including Seward, Eastside, Lakewinds, Miss Market, North Country and the Wedge.

                http://twincitiesfood.coop/locations

                These co-ops have a lifetime membership (aka stock investment), and share some membership privileges. For example, when I shop at the Wedge and mention my Seward membership, I qualify for any member specials and my total bill applies to my yearly total.

                More importantly, for this discussion, these co-ops use the same source for their bulk items. So if they carry, say, the dark chocolate almonds, they're the same as the ones at Seward. Larger co-ops tend to have more bulk items, of course.

                Hampdon Park Co-op isn't in the TCNFC group. Their one-time investment, according to their web site, is $30. It's a very small store, and bulk items tend to be different (though I haven't been there for years).

                http://www.hampdenparkcoop.com

                Anne

                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  they have good soup at hampden park. usually 3 choices. their bulk selection is okay for such a dinky store-- they really pack it in b-c they have so little space and the selection on lots of stuff is pretty good! try not to go at lunchtime, lots of folks do the same.

                  1. re: AnneInMpls

                    Anne, when you mention Seward, do you actually give them your own membership number or do they just key in the generic number for the Seward location?

                    I'm under the assumption that there's some bulk account for members of one co-op shopping at another, but that I myself don't get any credit for my purchases unless I'm at a register that can record my membership number. (I drew this conclusion from seeing the cumulative annual total on the bottom of a Seward receipt and realizing it was big enough to feed a second-ring suburb.)

                    I've never tried to use my Linden Hills membership number at Seward or Mississippi Market. Can you do more than give them the name of where you belong?

                    1. re: KTFoley

                      Oops - you're right. They just have a general number for the co-op, so they don't credit you for the purchase total.

                      I remember now - the Wedge told me that my total does feed into Seward's sales, somehow, but it isn't credited to me, just to Seward. So it increases their profit a bit.

                      Anne

                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                        yes that's what i thought as well.

              3. re: KTFoley

                KTFoley--I'm always too chicken to try the fiddleheads. I don't think I've ever had them. I suppose should take the plunge.

                That almond granola at Seward sounds fantastic--will they let you shop there if you're not a member, I wonder? Just to try the granola, ya know.

                Too bad about the blueberries getting a bit bigger--I wonder if the little sweet ones were local and they had to branch out to meet the demand? I keep berries in the freezer for oatmeal, but maybe I'll try the dried. Thanks for the tip, Anne.

                ~TDQ

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  I believe you can shop at any of the co-ops if you're not a member. We don't belong to any of them and have definitely picked up things at Linden Hills and Seward.

                  1. re: katebauer

                    ALL of the co-ops welcome non-member shoppers-- they want to make $ for their members, after all! FYI the co-op advantage co-ops (including the wedge, seward, linden hills, the big miss and the little miss, but not including hampden park, not sure about eastside) track each other-- so when i shop at the wedge and am asked for my member #, i can say "mississippi market" and they have a # they punch in.

                    1. re: soupkitten

                      Yep, that's right. The one limitation is that you can't move your own membership from one store to the other. So my membership privileges and annual dividend are tied to Linden Hills, even if I only get there after walking around the lakes on weekend mornings. But I still go, and not just because the line of skin care products are cheaper there.

                      Back on topic -- the juice bar at Linden Hills has some good offerings, and sometimes the ginger lime tango is exactly what I'm craving.

                      1. re: soupkitten

                        We live between the Wedge and the Linden Hills Coop (and Whole Foods) so we vary our shopping. We are members of the Wedge. I think that the Wedge's spice selection and quality is top notch and that they generally have the widest (not always best but widest) selection of produce.

                        One thing to note about mentioning membership at other coop advantage coops. The number that is put in is a generic coop-wide number, so your "home" co-op account is not credited for your purchase. So when I shop at Linden Hills and mention my Wedge membership, the Wedge gets credit for my purchase -- not me. The only thing it really does for you as an individual is to allow you to get member discounts, etc.

                2. i think the bulk spices and teas in general from frontier--at all the co-ops-- are top-notch and i find they are fresher than penzey's (esp at the wedge), and obviously so much super-cheaper. i like the organic turkish bay leaves, the vanilla beans, and the organic dried herbs in particular.

                  crud i just reread TDQ's op and realized she wanted to open this thread up to all midwest hounds, but it looks like the msp hounds are merely comparing our plethora of great co-ops here in the msp area. anybody else out there want to weigh in?