Those of us unfortunate enough to live in the awkward, politically-undefined space between liberal, neo-hippie Concord and liberal, college-town-heavy Massachussetts have precious few choices when it comes to natural-type shopping. (Hyphens!) Even the non-healthy vegans are frustrated by this, as it means a crippling dearth of Daiya cheese, Gardein patties and Follow Your Heart sour cream. This was never a problem for me when I lived in Chicago, or even Houston for that matter, because I could always depend on Whole Foods — pricey as it is — to fill the gap in my diet that no Kroger, Jewel, or Shaw’s could touch.
Now, I for one would love to have an explanation as to why there are 10 Whole Foods Markets in the greater Boston area yet none in the entire state of New Hampshire (there’s even one in Maine, for goodness’ sake). But until WFM cleans up its act, or at least brings it filthily to Manchester, we NHers will have to rely on my dear old standby, A Market.
A Market Natural Foods is a solid alternative to Whole Foods in that it fills just that gap I was talking about earlier. Various fake meats like Tofurky, Field Roast, and Gardein abound, and there’s enough non-dairy dairy to stock any vegan’s fridge with a wide selection of cheeses and milks. A small coffee bar and modest selection of prepared foods offers a quick choice if you’re in a rush. They’re also the only store I know of that sells certified fair-trade bananas. And yes, they do carry both kinds of Daiya.
They’ve really stepped up their game lately, too, as evidenced by the surge in new products carried (e.g.: Daiya, Tofurky’s new line of pre-seasoned tempeh strips, So Delicious coconut milk kefir) and the food sample displays at the end of nearly every aisle. It’s nice to see that they’ve retained their country store charm while operating, business-wise, more on par with a larger chain. Granted, you can’t do all your shopping here, unless you’re the sort of person who can afford to live in The Flume, but bounce back and forth between here and Hannaford and I think you’ll be all set.
My personal favorite recent discovery at A Market is We Can’t Say It’s Cheese by Wayfare Foods. It’s a soy-free cheese alternative that comes in four flavors — 2 dips and 2 spreads — and it tastes like cheese! It’s made from pureed oatmeal (weird, right?) but they’ve really got that nacho-esque, drippy, goopy orange cheese flavor right on. And a hell of a lot healthier to boot.
All that said, I will probably continue to make monthly pilgrimages to Whole Foods Andover (the closest one to me, at 37 minutes away) to pick up some essentials that A Market has decided to price laughably high (nutritional yeast at nearly $10 per pound comes to mind). And, of course, for that unbeatable salad bar. For most specialty items, though, save the gas and just bike to South Willow instead.
A Market Natural Foods is located at 125 Loring Street, Manchester off of South Willow Street. http://www.amarketnaturalfoods.com/