I recently took a stroll through the Cambridge store, where it was immediately clear that Harvest places a strong emphasis on local and organic products—particularly those for customers with special dietary restrictions. There’s a wide representation of brands that people have come to know and trust, like Bob’s Red Mill, Applegate Farms, and Annie’s. And if you close your eyes and point, you are likely to land on a product that suits a meat-free, dairy-free, or gluten-free diet.
One of the most impressive features of Harvest Co-op was the enormity of their bulk foods sections. The store is peppered throughout with bulk stations, from coffee, to nut butters, to grains and legumes of all kinds. There was bulk maple syrup and even a water refilling station. But to me, the most intriguing station of all was a wall of bulk spices. Since buying new spices can sometimes be a bit overwhelming—can I really commit to this entire jar of ancho chile powder?—buying them in bulk helps save money, while allowing you to sample new spices and recipes before signing on to a full-sized jar.
Outside of its store walls, Harvest Co-Op works hard to serve its local community. Any and all produce that’s in danger of going to waste is passed on to local food rescue programs like Lovin’ Spoonfuls and Food For Free—programs that help eliminate waste by feeding people who might otherwise not have access to good, fresh food. For the produce that’s past its useful life, Harvest Co-Op composts through Save That Stuff.
Bearing in mind that it can be difficult and expensive to shop and plan for reasonably wholesome meals, Harvest distributes its own newsletters and flyers with recipes and advice on how to cook and eat more consciously. Among this week’s recipes was a section on add-ins for a quick-and-easy mac and cheese dinner—all with varying combinations of vegetables and fresh herbs.
It’s small gestures like these that—at the very least—make it a little easier to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in our diets, while inspiring us to become a bit more daring in our kitchens. What begins as a small experiment with butternut squash mac and cheese may eventually lead to experiments with other bulk grains and spices. And with a shop with as much variety as Harvest Co-Op, it’d be a challenge worth accepting!