For some, grocery shopping is akin to going to the dentist or cleaning the shower: An unpleasant but necessary task. (Less necessary now that you can outsource to services like Instacart, though.) I am not one of those people. Roaming a shiny new grocery store is my version of relaxing on the couch with a glass of wine in my hand and a charcoal mask on my face. If I don’t get my grocery shopping fix on the weekend, I get cranky. The love is real.
So this Friday, after work, instead of heading home to put on a face mask and crack open a bottle of wine like a normal person, I headed to the newly opened MOM’s Organic Market at 34 South 11th Street in Center City — their first Philly-area location that’s not in the ‘burbs — and spent nearly two hours slow-walking the aisles. Despite the nightmare it may sound like to some, it was lovely, and I soaked up quite a few shopping pointers for the next time I go, which I figured I’d share with those of you who prefer to spend as little time as possible confined in aisles filled with almond milk and non-BPA-lined canned beans. Below, eight things to know before you shop the new Center City MOM’s Organic Market.
1. Go for the bulk items.
Seriously, the bulk options at this market outshine all the other major grocery stores in the city. They’ve got a wide range of the expected: grains, granolas, nuts, seeds, nut butters, spices and so on. But then, they’ve also got bulk honey, bulk coffees roasted in house, bulk detergent, bulk soap (they’ve got Dr. Bronner’s soap in bulk, people!), and more. Just know that purchasing a container for certain bulk items will cost you extra. So if you have spare mason jars lying around at home, bring ’em along.
2. Go for the vegan and vegetarian goods.
The store isn’t stingy when it comes to dedicating shelf space to vegan and vegetarian-friendly items, and within those categories, they offer a lot of variety. To wit: There was pretty much an entire fridge devoted to dairy-free yogurts — from cashew to coconut, and more — and they had, like, seven different brands of almond milk. It doesn’t feel like they just threw some seitan on a shelf and called it a day.
3. Go for the gluten-free items.
They have a ton of gluten-free items sprinkled throughout the store that I haven’t seen in other Philly stores: the trendy Siete tortillas that are all over Instagram, gluten-free flatbread that actually appeared edible, a slew of gluten-free pastas, a large selection of gluten-free frozen pizzas, along with an entirely gluten-free store section. In other words, a gluten-free eater wouldn’t walk out feeling depressed.
4. Go for the on-trend health-food items.
Adaptogenic tea bags? Check. Jackfruit “meat”? Check. That new macademia nut “milk” that has everyone rolling their eyes? Check. It seems like they stay ahead of food trends here, so if you’re looking for “that thing that’s everywhere on Instagram,” you might be able to find it in the aisles.
5. Go for the natural beauty section.
The new Whole Foods Market on Pennsylvania has a beauty section that is hard to beat, and this MOM’s location doesn’t do that. But it does beat out Trader Joe’s and many of the standard markets out there, like Acme, in the natural beauty selection. They carry brands like Evan Healy, Weleda and more, and there’s a damn-near full wall of natural deodorants that will make your heart sing.
6. Go for the sales.
Now, this could be because I went on opening day, but they had a lot of awesome deals that knocked my usually costly pantry and fridge items (lookin’ at you, raw honey and kombucha) down to less tear-inducing prices. I got a jar of raw, organic honey for $3.99 (gasp!), my favorite Health-Ade kombucha was on sale for $2.99, my favorite Wild Planet tuna was on sale for $2, I got a bag of cashew butter (yes, this particular brand is sold in a bag) for $3.99, the almond milk I bought was buy-one-get-one-free. My point: There were a lot of sales that put a smile on my face — and hopefully they continue after the “Just opened!” signs come down.
7. Don’t go for fish or meat counters.
MOM’s only sells 100 percent sustainable seafood, which is awesome. That said, the Center City location doesn’t have a seafood counter, and save for a few freshly cut fish filets found in the meat fridge, most of the fish is frozen. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you are looking to get a specific cut of fish — or meat; they don’t have a deli counter either — you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
8. Don’t go for cheap produce.
All of MOM’s produce is organic. Again: This is awesome — but it does mean that you might experience a bit of sticker shock when comparing prices with your usual grocery stop. So if buying organic isn’t top-priority to you, you may be better off shopping your local farmers’ market for produce at lower prices.
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