We are fortunate, in the Berkshires, to live in the land of abundant farms and people who are committed to healthy foods, as a way of life. In the summertime, it’s easy to find fresh, local produce. There are farmer’s markets, roadside stands, and if you don’t garden yourself, you know someone who does, that will willingly supply you with an abundance of things grown from the earth. But, in the winter months (which tend to go on and on around here), the choices get slimmer.
That’s when our area markets come in handy. The larger ‘big box’ type stores carry a decent selection of organic produce and healthy food products, but it is the local, natural food stores that really shine. Luckily enough, there is one in almost every main town, sometimes even more.
In Williamstown, there is Wild Oats Market, which is a co-op. Though I don’t get up that way very often, I almost always stop at this market when I do go to North County. There is a good selection of natural foods, at decent prices, and they have a good hot buffet bar, where I can pick up a tasty lunch. I have heard that there are plans for a major expansion, but don’t really know any of the details. In Dalton, right on the Pittsfield line, is Berkshire Organics. They started out in a smaller location, delivering local and organic produce to homes, and grew into the market that it is today. They are currently in the midst of expanding their store even more, with the addition of some new vendors that will be joining the existing store. I really like this market because they carry a huge selection of local products, like Fire Cider, Berkshire Bark and Berkshire Mountain Bakery. I think it’s also pretty cool that you can get a basket of fresh veggies and fruits(and other goods if you choose) delivered right to your door, if you don’t want to shop on your own.
In Pittsfield, I like a little market on North St., by the name of Pittsfield Health Food Centre. This place is tiny, and doesn’t carry much in the way of fresh produce and foods, but they carry hard to find natural foods, that many of the other stores don’t. So, every now and then, when I am seeking ingredients for a new recipe, I will call this store, and inevitably, they will have what I am looking for. There is also a Guido’s Fresh Marketplace on the outskirts of Pittsfield. This market has been my favorite food store in the area for as long as I can remember. Aside from their bountiful array of the freshest produce, there is a huge selection of natural foods and bulk foods. There are also stores within the store, such as a meat market, florist and bakery. They have a huge hot and cold buffet bar and an area with tables, so you can sit and eat. They have a great smoothie/juice bar, and I often grab one for lunch when I am on the go. Guido’s is a complete natural foods grocery store, and it is very popular with locals, as well as the tourists (as can be judged by the parking attendant that is often needed on weekends to handle the massive amount of parking lot traffic). Guido’s is also great about giving back to the community, through donations, raffles, events and demonstrations.
Further South, there is the Berkshire Co-op, in Great Barrington. This is a perennial favorite with those that live in the area. I love the co-op for their market as much as the café that is inside the store. The café has great food and is a wonderful place to stop for lunch. The store has a great selection of natural foods (and other natural products), with good prices on most of the stuff. They also hold several product demonstrations and other events throughout the year, and I find myself popping in frequently to see what is new, because they are always finding new products to introduce to the area. I have found many great food products this way. There is also another Guido’s Fresh Marketplace in Great Barrington, and this is the one that I usually do my main shopping at. I find the layout to my liking, and it is usually a little less congested than the Pittsfield store. This Guido’s doesn’t have the same sit down area, or juice bar, as it’s Pittsfield counterpart, but it does have a great cheese and bakery area, that boasts many local products. The produce section is also amazing, and I find many times the prices are much better than the ‘big box’ stores. The quality is excellent, and they source as many local farmers as they can (much like some of the other stores that were mentioned) to get their produce. I love our local markets, and frequent them as much as possible. They are a life force in our deep New England winters, and though I continue to shop at them year round for all of the other great offerings they have, I am also really craving getting my hands in the dirt, and picking some food from the earth. So, it is a good thing most of these stores also carry a great selection of organic, heirloom vegetable seeds, so that I can get some flats of veggies going, to plant in the garden when the weather finally decides to warm up a bit!
Tags: berkshire county, berkshiregirl, berkshires, Co op, Dalton, Food, fresh, garden, great barrington, juice bar, local, natural foods, pittsfield, produce, vegetables, williamstown, winter