We recently went shopping for the first time at The Golden Fig in St. Paul, on Grand Avenue. We've been meaning to check it out for some time, but St. Paul is just so far away! Regardless of my laziness, the owner of The Golden Fig, Laurie McCann Crowell, has clearly not been the slightest bit lazy, as her store is filled with carefully selected and locally-made products and fresh foods.
We found tantalizing peppermint bark, excellent pretzels sampled out with a yummy garlicky dip, a great collection of cheeses, Wood from the Hood chopping boards, Fischer Farm bacon, hand-made jams and spreads, pickled local veggies, and our favorite, grain-free fruit & nut bars. The dedication to sourcing from a specific area is refreshing, as many stores similar to GF will boast about local products yet sell canned tomatoes and olive oils from Italy, among other things that may be readily available from nearby sources. Not even the co-op where I shop offers a local choice for tomato products, except ketchup from a brand called Local Folks, which comes from Indiana. The irony here is that I found a jar of diced tomatoes at the Golden Fig made by Local Folks, who, as it turns out, makes all kinds of tomato products. The Golden Fig and a few other stores in the metro area are advocating for the production and sale of all that can be grown on the land surrounding us: animal, vegetable and mineral.
I found the fact that I could find many of my grocery needs at one small shop gratifying. Most of the staple items (meat, dairy, vegetables, fruit, bread, snacks, etc.) are from the Midwest. Other items to round out the grocery list such as condiments, spices, oils, nuts & seeds, etc. come from small producers as close to the Midwest as possible, and are conscientiously made (i.e. non-industrial, humane, biologically sound) with quality ingredients. I also relished the idea of limited choices, as opposed to the overwhelming variety found at large grocery chains. One delicious offering of butternut squash soup made in Minnesota is all I need. No one should be required to read over the ingredients of ten different raisin bran cereals to determine the best one.