When Placerville Natural Foods Co-op Market took ownership of the former Noah’s Ark in October 2011, there were 250 owners. By January 2014, membership had tripled to 920, and does not appear to be stopping there. The market, located at 535 Placerville Drive, has diversified since it opened just over two years ago.
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A number of trends are creating more demand for the local and sustainably-produced foods and products available at the store — an increasing emphasis on fitness, on higher energy levels, on healthy eating to prevent diseases or reduce their effects, and on freshness and flavor.
Membership is not required to shop at the Co-op. The number of shoppers has expanded as new shopping opportunities and services are added.
The Co-op is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The latest addition is a deli that has takeout breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast items are available starting at 8 a.m. Lunch can be ordered starting at 10:30 a.m. Dinners can be ordered at 4 p.m.
For breakfast, choices are meat or vegetarian burritos and muffins. Breakfast pizza, hot cereal, and other specialties are on daily menus. Coffee and tea are available. A totally organic fruit and vegetable juice bar is nearby.
Organic hot dishes are featured for lunch and dinner. Current luncheon offerings are Chicken Cacciatore with brown rice pasta and eggplant parmesan. Shepherd’s pie and a half free-range rotisserie chicken are the dinner dishes.
Besides the entreés, luncheon and dinner selections include a choice of soups, salads, meat or vegetable sandwiches or wraps, or pizza. Made-to-order sandwiches and wraps can be ordered at the custom sandwich bar.
Gluten-free breakfast muffins, sandwiches, wraps and dessert cookies are also offered.
Mickey Kaiserman, chief financial officer and marketing manager, said the next addition to the Co-op is an espresso bar, which he anticipates will be open by late January or early February.
The market has an array of edibles found in natural foods stores. Fresh produce is artfully displayed. Rows of glass jars contain bulk spices, grains and dried fruits. Fresh organic eggs come in different sizes, and meat from free range chickens and cattle are packaged.
A Health and Beauty section complements the grocery and deli sections.
Upstairs, the Community Room is the site of yoga classes. Three different styles are taught at different times throughout the week: Hatha Yoga, Body Rush Yoga and Fluffy Folks Yoga.
Kaiserman said that keeping food accessible and affordable in El Dorado County is part of the Co-op vision. Seniors 62 and over receive a 10 percent discount on all regularly priced merchandise every Sunday.
Co-op shoppers who receive General Assistance benefits, or are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or Women, Infants and Children Food and Nutrition Service, can sign up at the register to receive a 10 percent discount on qualifying purchases.
The Co-op has also arranged a scrip program for EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) cardholders to shop at any of the Farmers Markets throughout El Dorado County.
All shoppers can take advantage of the monthly specials.
One of the member benefits is the High Five program. Each month, members receive a 15 percent discount on a selection of seasonal and local foods from each of five food groups: fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds or herbs/spices, beans/legumes, and whole grains. For January, the selections are: broccoli, Meyer lemons, black beans, millet, and black figs. Recipes using the selections provide ideas and recommendations for their use.
Members do not have to be volunteers, and volunteers do not need to be members. Volunteers can offer demonstrations of foods and products, help with paperwork, and other projects that are involved in running a Co-op.
For more information, visit the Website at placervillecoop.org, call 530-621-3663, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.