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There were never any "good old days" — they are today, they are tomorrow
loving the Rainbow Grocery bulk department 
17th-Sep-2008 09:42 pm
food, Bascove peaches
You know how sometimes you find yourself thinking, "For the past 18 years I've lived 10 miles or less from here. How on earth have I never been here before?"*

Well, a couple of weeks ago Pirate and I finally made our way over to Rainbow Grocery.


Fantastic selection, easily as good as the Berkeley Bowl. Okay, no curry leaves, but you can't have everything.

Excellent produce section. The bunches of kale were so large and robust I had trouble wrestling one into a plastic bag. Multiple varieties of beets. Tomatoes for days (wish I could eat tomatoes). Multiple varieties of bananas — we got some apple bananas. They had a perfumey quality to them that I'm not quite sure whether I liked or not. Worth trying again, though.

Extensive vitamins and supplements section, with Floradix for about $11 less than our closest health food store. (Love ya, guys, but your prices are wayyyyy out of line.)

Good housewares section. We got a Microplane box grater that's been great so far. Garlic on the ribbon cutter is very nice.

Prices reasonable for this sort of thing.

But the best has to be the bulk section. Granolas, flours, cereals, trail mixes, nuts, grains, rices, beans, honeys, molasses, oils, nut butters, herbs, spices, teas... Heaven!

But the two best (so far) things in the bulk section we only discovered this last visit.

Over by the honey, molasses, and nut butters, they have a huge tub full of Artisana Organic Raw Coconut Butter.


This stuff is soooooo good. The label has the kind of ingredient list I like: "Ingredient: 100% Organic, Raw Coconut". (I love a product with a list of ingredient, rather than ingredients.) I first heard about this stuff when dryadgrl posted about it. The monkey and I are both seriously in love with it. It's satisfying in a way that few other foods are. A little bit of this stuff smeared on a graham cracker or some toasted wolverine bread from Arizmendi (chewy-crusted whole wheat sourdough full of sweet dried apricots and pecans and other good stuff) is unbelievably good.

And then, while I was over in the herb-and-spice section, scooping out some cloves and coriander, I looked to my left to see a huge jar of All-Night Samba Yerba Mate Latte tea from the Republic of Tea.

I love this stuff. Mixed half-and-half with Eco Teas' Organic Unsmoked Yerba Mate, it makes a wonderful dessert tea. (Mixed because it's a bit overwhelming to my tastebuds when brewed straight.) But for the longest time, I've only found it in tea bags, so I've passed it up. I wasted no time in grabbing that jar and scooping out a bagful for us to take home with us.

And one of the nicest things about Rainbow, I have to say, is how much nicer the other customers are than when one shops at the Berkeley Bowl.

We'd have to take public transit to get to the BBowl anyway, so it's not much more convenient or cheaper to shop there. And for a bulk section like Rainbow's I'm happy to ride BART.

*I've still never been to Alcatraz. Born in the Bay Area, lived here (either full-time or alternating school year/vacations due to the joint custody thing) my entire life, and I've never been to Alcatraz. I know, it's terrible.
18th-Sep-2008 05:59 am (UTC)
Curry leaves! hitchhiker and I found curry leaves in San Leandro, near Nordstrom Rack. Shall I dig up the place?

Also: I first went to Rainbow Grocery in maybe '76, but haven't been since. I forget its there, even with an LJ friend being the cheeseguy there.

I've never been to Alcatraz either, wasn't born here, but first visited in the sixties, and have lived here most of my life.
21st-Sep-2008 03:44 am (UTC)
curry leaves in San Leandro, near Nordstrom Rack. Shall I dig up the place?

Yes, please! At the moment the BBowl is the only source I know of, and I'm on the lookout for more.
21st-Sep-2008 03:51 am (UTC)
Here you go :)

Good prices, huge variety. It's just southeast of the shopping center with Nordstrom Rack, off Marina and 880.
18th-Sep-2008 11:37 am (UTC)
I've never been to Alcatraz either. Saving that up for either when I leave the area and come back to visit, or for late retirement. And if I miss out on it, no biggie.

You have to love a grocery store where the directions include eight different public transit routes for how to get there, yet no driving directions.
21st-Sep-2008 03:46 am (UTC)
They do have a parking lot (I think), but yeah — at present, the most prominent sign posted on the entrance doors is about proposed changes to Muni routes.

Of course, since the monkey and I are walking from BART, Muni is kinda irrelevant to us in this regard.
18th-Sep-2008 11:50 am (UTC)
I'm drooling in envy of your shopping resources. My visits to the Bay Area have demonstrated that this compensation of availability ALMOST makes up for city living. Not quite, but as close as can be!

The coconut butter description really did make me salivate. How is it different from coconut oil?

An eleven dollar difference in Floradix? Sister! That's worth a ZOMG!!! I love Floradix liquid, but I have to use it sparingly or I get some unwanted side effects. It's worth the balancing act, though, because nothing says happy to my blood counts like Floradix liquid.
18th-Sep-2008 02:46 pm (UTC)
Coconut butter is nothing but puree'd AWESOME coconut meat.
18th-Sep-2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
It's heavier because it has coconut meat in it - more like the consistency of butter. But it's solid at room tempertaure. It melts like chocolate below body temp so melts in your mouth, literally.

The one thing to be careful of is that it's high in fat and so if you eat more than a couple of tablespoons of it you feel really, really full as fat is responsible for feelings of satiety.(But it's the good kind of fat so no worries on the other side of that worry.)
19th-Sep-2008 12:07 am (UTC)
I learned a really interesting fact at a seminar about the botany of nutrition last weekend (the woman presenting it is a research scientist at the university where Doc and I work). Here is the crux of it: plants store exess carbohydrates as starches because they can grow to accommodate the storage. HUMANS, on the other hand, store excess carbohydrates as >>> drum roll <<< FAT. Human bodies do NOT, contrary to popular belief, store fat as fat.

I thought that was fascinating and it explains why I have gained weight every single frigging time I've followed a "balanced" diet. For my body, the recommended daily amounts of carbohydrates (even wonderful ones) exceeds my metabolic need. I can eat what is by normal standards a diet with a ridiculously high fat content (albeit they are wonderful fats from animals and plants) and thrive like anything. No heart disease, beautiful triglycerides and cholesterol numbers, etc. Validating, that.
21st-Sep-2008 04:03 am (UTC)
How is it different from coconut oil?

It's finely-ground coconut meat, so it has both the oil and the coconut flesh. [Have you ever noticed how even when talking about plant foods, we often talk about them in terms of "meat" and "flesh"? Weird.] In texture it's kind of like thick peanut butter or almond butter or something, except that it melts at body temperature, as dryadgrl mentions.

The monkey said something interesting the other day about feeling like it's helping to reset his "sense of sweet". Although it's not strongly flavored, a teaspoonful just fills the mouth with satisfaction... and somehow things sweetened with refined sugar are starting to seem to be too much, and we're shifting to agave nectar and just leaving things unsweetened more and more often. The half-and-half unsmoked yerba mate/All-Night Samba blend, for instance, doesn't taste sweet, but there's a sweetness to the aroma that hits the back of the palate and is remarkably satisfying — no sweetener needed. I should encourage the monkey to write something about it from his perspective. I mean, I grew up with earthy-crunchy granola-and-whole-grain-eating Northern California parents, so I realize my opinion on foods is inherently suspect to many. Mr. The Hamburger Is The Perfect Food As Long As You Don't Sully It With Lettuce Or Tomato Or Pickle Or Really Any Other Vegetable Matter might have more credibility with some. ;-)

An eleven dollar difference in Floradix? Sister! That's worth a ZOMG!!!

Innit tho'? The people who run the place are nice enough, but they've got high rent and overhead to pay, I guess...

I've come to realize — and have proven and reproven it to myself more times than I care to admit (sometimes I'm slow that way) — that Floradix and fish oil are as essential to my wellbeing as my antidepressant is. More than about three days off the Floradix and I start to get a bone-deep crushing fatigue setting in that my subconscious interprets as reason for/cause of despair. Bad. No good. Learned that lesson. ...although I'm sure I'll run out again in the future despite my best intentions. *sigh*
21st-Sep-2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
I'm with you on the sugar thing. I notice that it's acidic, too. Belly no likey. Agave, I love. And I can deal with maple syrup in small amounts, or honey. But the refined sugars just feel harsh. Though, another exception is brown Florida Crystals (named because it's a weird loop-holey government-sponsored organic sugar cane project in Florida), which are lovely for baking.

Mostly I notice foods tend to be plenty sweet, just by their lonesomes.

And food made by others (e.g., restaurants, pre-made at the grocery, etc.) tend to be way salty, too.

It's our incisors that force us to refer to plant bits in meat terms. It's a rule. I read it in a book. That I wrote. XD

Floradix rules. OTC iron supplements drool.

And, I have to say, despite the skepticism I had, I'm giving thanks and praise to the Adderall...
18th-Sep-2008 03:27 pm (UTC)
OMG!!! never been to RAINBOW!??
Wow... heh!
Yes, the customers are much nicer to interact with than BB. Yes, the bulk section is FABUUUUUUUlous!

I am so glad you got to go!

And I cannot tell you how much I miss it.
been going (uh, HAD been...) there at least bi monthly and usually monthly since late 80's, when it was on 15th and Mission. and, a quarter of that size. Aisles so narrow only one cart could go down one at a time.
Rainbow is right at the exit I usually took to get on Bay Bridge to go home after most of my San Francisco clients, yay!
There is nothing even close to Rainbow here. Dang. Well, there IS Whole Paycheck, and there is a place called Wheatsville Coop, but, it is tiny, and very small selection, and very far. Altho, the folks there are quite nice.
So, go to Rainbow! Enjoy for me! And, they DO have a discount produce rack, it is over by the yummy yummy cheese section, to the left.
21st-Sep-2008 04:05 am (UTC)
They have a discount produce rack? Yay!

Near the cheese section? Oh, dear. That's where the wedge of Humboldt Fog leapt into our cart last time... ;-)
18th-Sep-2008 04:11 pm (UTC)
I posted about cocnut butter a while back - it's become an intense love affair.
Last night I made:
The recipe is in the cleanse/ detox workbook. Here it is:
2 Tbls coconut butter
2 Tbls raw cacao
2 Tbls coconut flakes
1 Tbls Almond Butter
1 Tbls Agave (or more to taste)
pinch of sea salt.
*put in blender or cuisinart... if too thick, trickle almond milk to moisten till consistency of a paste.
Roll into balls and cover with coconut flakes.

I didn't actually roll it, I just ate it with a spoon.

I take Fluridix too and when I don't get to Rainbow, I get it at Whole Foods (less expensive than that natural foods, more than Rainbow.)

And I'm in SF twice a week and stop in there ocassionally so I'm open to being asked to bring home a thing or two on those days (usually).
21st-Sep-2008 04:09 am (UTC)
That sounds tasty, and I think we have almost all the ingredients. No raw cacao, but we have cacao nibs and a mortar & pestle. Hmm...

So far we've been using it as an excuse for a trip over to SF to wander around and check out cheap-but-tasty holes in the wall, but I'll keep in mind that you're over there regularly — thanks!
19th-Sep-2008 01:02 am (UTC)
Count me in as one of the jealous ones. We don't even have Whole Paycheck where I live.

21st-Sep-2008 04:10 am (UTC)
It must be rough as a Californian moving somewhere where the food options are so much more constrained.

*starts thinking about contents for possible care packages*
21st-Sep-2008 04:55 pm (UTC)
:: whimpering ::

p.s. coconut is terrific for low thyroid conditions, too. :)
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