The Portland Food Co-op has an exciting lineup of organic and local foods that will certainly make a difference in Portland shopping trends.
The Portland Food Co-op officially opened for business Wednesday morning — three weeks to the day after their soft opening. Time has allowed them to get their act together since the initial days were a little sketchy. But now the staff is up to snuff and have done a tremendous job in gathering a who’s who of Maine local and organic farm goods.
In fact, don’t walk but run right over to see all the local stuff because it basically has emerged as a one-stop mart for local provender as well as having a big selection of organic groceries.
The dairy cases stock all of the products that we’ve become so familiar with at farmers’ markets: Lakin’s Gorge’s ricotta (Rockport), Balfour cultured cream (great sour cream), yogurts and cheese to Swallowtail’s dairy lineup of kefir, cheese and flavored yogurts. Ice cream choices include the excellent Catbird Creamery and the store has a small but professional kitchen where many preparations like soups, sandwiches, salads and vegetable dips are made.
The bread selection has moved beyond just gluten-free. Borealis Bread lines the shelves, as do fresh baked loaves from Standard Baking. Of note are little-known bakers Nate and Megan Chase and their Sweet and Savory line of bakery products (muffins, bagels and cookies) made in their certified home bake shop in Limerick. You have to try their English muffins, which I had for the first time when I spotted them at the South Portland indoor farmer’s market this past Sunday. They are about the best English muffins I’ve had – as good if not better than Scratch Baking’s or Rosemont’s version. I loved their craggy texture, taste and firmness. When toasted, they soak up the butter and jam luxuriously.
Milk and cream is supplied by Misty Brook Farm and The Milkhouse, among others, and the store is still working on beefing up their selection of local organic eggs. Poultry, which is delivered fresh on Wednesdays, includes chickens from Commonwealth and Tide Mill.
How they’ll fit into the buying trends of shoppers used to Whole Foods and Rosemont markets remains to be seen since both stores carry many of the same products. Though Whole Foods is still very light on local dairy and meats whereas it looks like the Co-op will definitely make that their strong suit.