“If organic farming is the natural way, shouldn’t organic produce just be called ‘produce’ and make the pesticide-laden stuff take the burden of an adjective?”
— Ymber Delecto
Placerville Natural Foods Cooperative
Some time ago I stopped by Noah’s Ark Natural Foods, at 535 Placerville Drive, to see what the store had to offer. I had known the owner, David Harde, since he first started showing up at the farmers market when it was still at the bi-monthly flea market at the fairgrounds. He always had quality produce to sell and I wasn’t surprised when he opened the store.
I had been at the store to buy things before, but up until just a couple of years ago had never taken the time to look around. I was impressed with the amount of goods they had in the building, which at one time was a pizza parlor.
About a month ago the store became the Placerville Natural Foods Cooperative or co-op. I am familiar with the cooperatives in Sacramento and Davis, so I decided to stop by and check the place out.
It looked about the same, but was I told by cashier Marvin Caravalho, that they have been adding new items. Caravalho was also kind enough to give me a tour and point out a number of things I had missed. The manager, Melisa Clark, was not there.
If you haven’t been into a cooperative or a store like Placerville Natural Foods Cooperative, you will find they are quite different from regular stores. They are kind of a cross between a health food store, a farmers market and most everything in between.
When they say something is grown locally, they mean here, in the surrounding counties and the San Joaquin Valley, not from some far away corner of California. And, as much as possible, it comes from sustainable farms.
I won’t go into the workings of the co-op, but membership is open to anyone and, after joining, you receive discounts. You can also volunteer and receive additional benefits.
The co-op provides the community with natural foods, certified organic produce and meat, organic milk and milk products, vegan meat substitutes, natural vitamins and supplements, organic canned and frozen foods, gluten free and raw foods, natural beauty items, natural cleaning items, natural pet foods and more.
To point out a few items, the deli has quite a selection of sandwiches, breads, baked goods and cheeses, most produced very locally. They also have fresh, store made soup and a number of other hot, ready to eat main dishes to take home. I arrived late in the afternoon, when the food was gone, but I have eaten there before and really enjoyed the food.
As a baker, I was very impressed with the bulk grains and flours. There must be a hundred or more large containers of organic cereals, nuts and flours, the flour list alone including spelt, oat, semolina, corn, soy and quinoa, among others. Nearby was also a row of bulk culinary herbs.
Next to that was the produce section. Everything looks fresh and, as I mentioned one time before, the potatoes are covered with black towels so they are not exposed to light.
They also stock local honey (good for some allergies, I’m told) and some very popular cheeses made in our county. While I was there two people came in looking just for the cheese.
It was also pointed out to me several locally produced items with the “Health Nut Products” label: “heart healthy, earth friendly and all natural” are at the store. You can check those out at healthnutbetty.com. They also have a number of locally produced pasta items from The Pasta Queen.
Then there is the large selection of organic and fair traded coffees and a huge number of micro-brewery beers, along with local organic wines.
I could go on for pages and pages and, by not doing so, have probably left out a number of important things, but you need to stop by and check it out for yourself.
The Placerville Natural Foods Co-op is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. For more information call 530-621-3663 or visit placervillecoop.org.