February 16, 2008

A Local Food Star

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If you haven’t heard of Greenstar Cooperative Market, you probably haven’t been in Ithaca all that long, but don’t worry, that’s okay – now you’ve heard of it, right? Greenstar started up in the early 1970s as a small purchasing co-op, and members would take turns picking up orders for the group at a wholesale market in Syracuse. At first the co-op was relatively small. However, membership grew rapidly and soon they began retailing from a permanent store site. Today the store is located on the corner of West Buffalo and Fulton streets in Ithaca.
So why am I telling you all this? Greenstar has a deep-rooted commitment to local foods, one that can be traced all the way to their mission statement.
In Greenstar’s produce, grocery, bulk and deli sections, they shelve as much local food as possible, sourcing their products from twenty local farmers. The co-op offers local produce year-round, but it is seasonal. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you’ll get a nice head of local lettuce in February! During the winter months you’ll find mostly storage crops such as potatoes, onions, beets and squash. You can also find locally produced and processed foods in other parts of the store such as the bulk section and in the deli. One of the most popular products at Greenstar is the local tofu, processed by Ithaca Soy.
Recently Greenstar adopted a first-rate labeling system. Very visible signs point out exactly what on the shelves is local produce. After talking to the General Manager of the store, I found out that the co-op’s definition of “local” is a 30 mile radius as the crow flies – a much higher standard than the average 100 miles that people generally think of for local food. Due to the signage and labeling in the market it is quite easy to go into Greenstar and pick out some good local foods for dinner.
Admittedly, Greenstar is a bit further away than some of the other local food options I have described in the past weeks , but do not despair! The T-CAT bus route 21 makes a stop at the Ithaca Bus Station right across the street from the co-op.
I’ll end by saying, if you have never been to Greenstar, you should definitely check it out! Greenstar Cooperative Market is one of the key places that make Ithaca a local food hot-bed.