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John Golden

John Golden writes about food and has a highly opinionated blog, The Golden Dish.

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Posted: December 10, 2014

The Portland Food Co-op is officially open for business

The Portland Food Co-op has an exciting lineup of organic and local foods that will certainly make a difference in Portland shopping trends.

Written by: John Golden

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 market bustle started early this morning

The market bustle started early this morning

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.

Lots of local dairy, fresh herbs well priced and rarely seen California olive oil are some of the items on the shelves

Lots of local dairy, fresh herbs well priced and rarely seen California olive oil are some of the items on the shelves

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.

From Borealis bread, Standard Baking and the boutique baker, Sweet and Savory, there's a nice selection of locally baked goods

From Borealis bread, Standard Baking and the boutique baker, Sweet and Savory, there’s a nice selection of locally baked goods

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.

From locally made Asian style dumplings, food prepared in the kitchen, local pastries and dairy

From locally made Asian style dumplings, food prepared in the kitchen, local pastries and dairy, it’s a diverse blend of foods

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.

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