Finding a grocery store you trust is never easy. Convenience demands you just get all your produce from Safeway, but do you really want to risk mumps or something? Probably not. You’ve still got so much to live for, after all.
Instead, why not consider the joys of locally sourced vegetables, fruits and meats? Tons of farmers’ markets and food co-ops
are just a hop, skip or short bus ride away. Here are a few that aren’t too far
Portland Farmers’ Market
If you’re amenable to waking up before noon on a Saturday, the Portland Farmers’ Market is likely your best bet for cheap, local produce. Multiple local farmers, bakers and other various artisans set up shop until 2 p.m. Best of all, the Saturday Farmers’ Market is held just outside the library and runs year-round.
If Saturdays are a no-go, you might check out the Wednesday farmers’ market just a couple blocks up, right outside the Portland Art Museum, in Shemanski Park. The Wednesday market has abbreviated hours, so they open at 10 p.m. but close at the same time as the Saturday market.
If you’re coming to the market from off-campus, it’s central to the MAX’s Yellow Line, the streetcar and several bus lines.
Food Front Cooperative Grocery
Food Front is a bit of a hike from Portland State, as it’s in Northwest Portland, but it’s worth the journey if you can hoof it. One of the great things about co-ops is that you can find all sorts of off-the-beaten-path local foods that big retailers like Fred Meyer don’t carry.
While you’re enjoying your locally grown rhubarb or mint, you can also chow down on some Brass Tacks spicy pickles. Not all together, mind you. I can’t imagine that would be agreeable to all but the most leaden of digestive tracts.
You can make your way to Food Front via either the streetcar (followed by a short walk) or the 15 bus line (preceded by a short walk). It’s also worth noting that some co-ops are veggie-only, but Food Front sells meat.
People’s Food Co-op
People’s Food Co-op is just a short bus ride across the pond. Not the England kind of across the pond, the kind that denotes you actually having to cross a much smaller body of water. Look, it’s in Southeast, okay? Right off Powell Boulevard.
People’s is one of the oldest co-ops in Portland, going all the way back to 1970. They also have a farmers’ market on Wednesdays which features a rotating list of vendors and musicians.
If you’re still on the fence about co-ops, just remember that they’re communities, too. People’s hosts yoga and tai chi in their community room on a weekly basis. You can also rent out the community room if you’re looking for a meeting place or base of operations.
You can get to People’s Food Co-op via the 9 bus line.
Alberta Cooperative Grocery
While this co-op is some distance from campus, it’s a good place to start if you’re looking to learn new areas like the Alberta Arts District.
If you’re invested in co-ops, they’ve also got a membership plan that affords you discounts and a say in major decisions regarding the store. You’ll also receive discounts at various sister organizations.
This is perhaps one of the biggest differences between a big retailer and one of the smaller co-ops: You get a say in what’s going on in the store. Try telling one of the big stores that they should stock the kombucha you like or that they should stop selling a specific brand because of the negative environmental impact.
Lots of co-ops also have opportunities to work for bigger discounts, too.
Because the stores themselves are community hubs, they largely run on support from that community. In return, you can get some pretty great discounts just for acting as a cashier or doing some community outreach.