GARDEN CITY — "Fresh organic produce" and "healthy cafe" aren't phrases you see much along Chinden Boulevard in Garden City, but the owners of Roots Zero Waste Market are taking on the challenge of changing that.
Their mission is right in the name: zero waste.
They sell what's in season, items that arrive plastic-free, locally-made eco-friendly toiletry items, and bulk goods you can take home in compostable paper bags or recycled glass containers.
"We don’t take on single-use plastics," Roots Zero Waste Market co-owner Lea Rainey said. "That’s why you’ll see broccoli but you won’t see cauliflower right now; cauliflower is out of season in Oregon and that’s where we mostly get out cauliflower from - or from Global Gardens - and now it’s coming packaged in plastic, so we have to just say, ‘okay, then we can’t have that in the market right now.'"
Unlike big-box grocery chains, owners at Roots know exactly where their produce is coming from and who's growing it.
"The garlic is coming from Swift River Farm in Salmon; Jessica, the farmer, just delivered that today," Rainey said. "Everything in here, it’s curated. We care more about the back story. Is that farm building soil? Are those farmers using the best farm practices and trying to regenerate the earth?"
When it comes to the bulk food section, you'll find pastas, grains, nuts, spices, and coffee, but no plastic to bag up your items. You can either bring your own containers from home, or borrow from their stash of recycled glass jars.
Two weigh stations demonstrate step-by-step instructions for how to weigh your own container and mark the weight of your grocery items, but staff are accustomed to walking newcomers through the process.
The store also has a section where customers can refill shampoo and conditioner containers, cleaning supplies and stock up on toiletries.
"We have a household and personal care section that really addresses everything you would need in a 24-hour period of a day," Rainey said. "Everything from laundry detergent, to a toothbrush and tooth powder, or deodorant in compostable tubes, or soap, or shampoo bars, or refillable shampoos; we have a lot of refillable cleaners."
As part of their zero waste strategy, they're also very mindful about how they stock their shelves. They make a point not to over-order produce items that could then expire.
To help use up the fresh fruits and vegetables, they source their own cafe menu right from their shelves, serving grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, soups and side dishes.
For an area best known for industrial businesses and a few fast food chains, the new market really is one of a kind.
"Particularly in this area where it’s not known for healthy food; it’s really not known for food or amenities of any kind," Rainey said. "This has been a food desert for a number of years, so I think people are getting used to the fact that they can stop in Garden City and get anything healthy."
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