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Jan 20, 2011 08:43 PM

Best Produce: Winter in Cambridge

Just moved to Cambridge, was really excited for the Harvest Co-Op only to find out that it had closed!

It seems the only produce options are TJ's, Whole Foods, and Star Market (prepackaged, overpriced, oy vey). Are there any high-turnover, mostly local, pretty cheap markets that have fresh produce? I've heard about the plethora of farmer's markets around Cambridge and Boston during the summer, but for now, I gotta find some crispy crunchy tender veggies and fruits

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  1. I bought some pumpernickel and a tomato at the Harvest Coop just yesterday, and they've been giving member rebates, so I'm pretty sure they're not closed or closing any time soon.

    That said, their veggies, while not prepackaged, are more expensive than Star, in the Whole Foods range.

    Lately, I've actually been buying my fresh vegetables at Shalimar, the Indian grocery right next door to the Harvest. Probably not organic or local, but taste-wise no worse than Harvest, and quite a bit cheaper.

    3 Replies
    1. re: femmevox

      the Harvest Coop on Mass Ave? I walked by and it was closed...?

      1. re: sjgray

        I just called them, and they're open.

        1. re: Taralli

          I've found the quality of the vegetables to be pretty spotty there. I think they have pretty low turnover. So many times, I've found avocados that felt like they were filled with guacamole, soft daikon, and browning/slimy greens. The only reason I keep going back is because they're convenient.

    2. Market Basket (Union Sq, Somerville) generally has 1) high turnover 2) low prices 3) relatively local produce, when available (much of the squash, collards, etc are MA-grown) 4) insane crowds. I love it. Others hate it. You gotta try it.

      Somerville is also hosting a winter farmers market on Saturdays.

      Your best bet in Cambridge is probably to go to the Russo's stand at MIT on Tuesdays, 12-6pm. Details:

      1. What do you mean "mostly local?" Nothing grows here in January. Have you looked out the window?

        Market Basket will get you the most fresh and inexpensive produce from warmer climates. Everyone else will be selling the same stuff, either of poorer quality (Shaw's) or at a higher price (Harvest, WF). Russo's is the best but a bit farther out. The Tuesday offering at MIT can be either cheaper or more expensive than their regular offerings (they don't bring scales so it's priced by item), and of course there is a smaller selection than at their store.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Luther

          Russo's is not really that far from Cambridge. It's just one town over, though admittedly not a good candidate for taking the T. Assuming the OP has a car, it's worth a few extra minutes of travel for the huge variety, very nice quality and decent prices. They also have a nice selection of cheese, high quality cold cuts, and bread, as well as some excellent local milk (High Lawn Farm - western MA) and eggs (Chip N Farm, not too far away in Bedford). The one thing that may disappoint the OP is the lack of anything marked organic. On the other hand, in the warmer months they do feature a nice variety of locally grown fruits and veggies.

          1. re: PinchOfSalt

            Agreed. I know many folks in Cambridge and Somerville who regularly make the drive to Russo's rather than shop elsewhere. In addition to the local eggs and dairy mentioned by PinchOfSalt, hey do actually have a few kinds of local produce this time of year -- their Cortland and Macintosh apples are local right now, and there might be local root veg or something -- and they do mark them as such. It appears that some of their produce is organic, but it is not indicated on signs when it is -- I only know this because I've seen it marked on flats of veggies employees were putting out on display (others have mentioned the same thing on this board).


            1. re: stomachofsteel

              I've seen the same thing. Boxes marked organic, even stickers on some bananas that said organic, but the signs never differentiate organic versus conventional produce.

          2. re: Luther

            Between storage crops (roots, winter squash, etc.) and greenhouse crops, you can actually find local produce, albeit not easily or cheaply. I haven't paid much attention to local at MB, but I know their parsnips are usually from western Mass.

          3. I just joined Harvest Coop on Wednesday - definitely open.

            If you're willing to commit $30/week, though, and if Vermont is local enough, I highly recommend Farmers to You ( I've been a member for about 2 months now, and have been very happy with the quality of produce (and the prices, and the people). It's probably not the cheapest, but it is fresh or well stored, and most of their items are organic to boot.

            1. Harvest Co-Op is decidedly still open and a going concern. If you're walking past the Cambridge location on Mass Ave, you have to walk through their cafe. And of course they're not 24 hours. Also I should note that they don't require a membership (if you're a regular shopper, the membership does get you discounts).

              For local veggies, it's tricky in the winter! But aside from the other places mentioned on this thread (Russo's, Whole Foods, Harvest...) you might consider a winter farm-share or a service like Boston Organics. Boston Organics delivers, and has a "Dogma Box" option that gives you only local (New England, anyway) veg- which in December meant a lot of beets, turnips, cabbage and squash. More than I could eat, I'm afraid. I loved the watermelon radishes though. Those went quick. :)

              We switched to the "regular" delivery box, and that still includes stuff that's local - so, some squash from MA, some onions from New York, some lettuce from Florida, and so on.

              Lastly, the Somerville Winter Market: Not a lot of local produce, I'm afraid, although there's plenty of root vegetables and squash. They also seem to have small/organic farm goods from further south, I'm guessing via some kind of sister-farm partnerships. And lots of pies, frozen things, honey, meats, fish, cheese, wine...

              1 Reply
              1. re: secretlyironic

                thanks! super helpful. i think the walking-through-the-harvest-cafe-entrance is what made me think they were closed. i'll definitely look into all of yalls suggestions