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Sunday, August 26, 2007

I'm Cooperative

It's 5 p.m. at Rainbow Grocery, San Francisco's premier co-op supermarket, and the place is packed. I had entered the store with the intention of grabbing a few Kombuchas for the week (they're a FULL DOLLAR CHEAPER here than at Whole Foods), and nearly two hours later, I find myself pondering a vat of almond butter in the bulk section, my cart overflowing with soba noodles, fish oil, and passionflower tinctures. An aging hippie next to me nibbles on the corner of a fig newton he lifted from a bulk jar. He sees that I've noticed and shuffles away, humiliated. Two dreadlocked boys to my left are loading up on granola for their upcoming drive to Burning Man. I tell them to try the pumpkin granola (full of omega-3s!). The taller of the two puts his hands together, bows slightly in my direction, and murmurs "Namaste". I detect no sarcasm. They fade away toward the beer coolers.

Usually I prefer nectarines to peaches (no fuzz), but today a handwritten sign above a crate of big, ripe peaches in the produce section catches my eye. Apparently, these peaches were transported here from a small, organic farm in Shasta County in the back of a truck running on biodiesel fuel. Seems worth it. I pick up three.

In the housewares aisle, a customer asks a Rainbow employee why they don't have a better incense selection. She recommends a great incense place on Telegraph and 33rd in Berkeley. He writes the address down, thanks her and their conversation shifts to beeswax varieties.

Along the back wall of the store, I open a glass door to grab a carton of free-range eggs, and get blasted with Cat PowerHe War from some hidden stereo behind the wall of dairy (no doubt to help motivate the guy stocking Kefir). I close the door and the music abruptly switches back to Neil Diamond on the store's main speaker system. I decide I prefer Cat Power, but stop myself from opening the glass door again and wasting valuable cold air.

At the checkout stand, I bag my own groceries. They don't do this for you at Rainbow. I could feel put out if I wanted to, but I'm already on their shit list for forgetting my cloth bags. Again. And truth be told, I kind of enjoy the task. I make it a game to finish bagging as quickly as possible, so as not to hold up the next guy in line (it's the aging hippie!). I also used to bag groceries for money as a teenager and like to think of myself as a shape/weight/temperature/ingredient grouping aficionado. The kids at Whole Foods don't know what they're doing these days. Seriously, who puts milk on top of bananas? But I digress.

On the way back to my car, a twitchy guy in a parka approaches me with a spray bottle full of something blue, begging me to let him clean my windshield. I politely decline, explaining that I just washed my car (true). He persists, gesturing off toward Mission Street, something about a burrito truck. His desperation pulls at my heart strings, so I reach into the grocery bag I packed full of things containing wheat flour and offer him a sprouted bagel. He scoffs at it and pedals away on his bike.

I've missed you, San Francisco.

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Comments

John

You're kidding! What is a sprouted bagel? There's no such thing.

Dennis D

they have a lot of weird food in California lol

angela

I feel like I experience that same craziness every time I shop there. Can only handle so many hippies.

L

What's a sprouted bagel?lol

Text Pirate

Sprouted bagels are made with sprouted grains which are exactly that, grains that have sprouted. Supposedly, it increases the nutrients but since sprouts get their initial nutrients from the grain anyway I think it is probably just a scam to charge hippies and ex-hippies more money.

You say you missed San Francisco, Sarah, as if any of this couldn't have played out in the hippie food stores in any major metropolitan area. What about this feels uniquely S.F.?

John

If truth be known Sarah never got past the beer cooler. (Where sprouting grain is best served cold with teenage memories).

sarah

@Text Pirate
I'm sure it could have played out anywhere. Just happens to be Rainbow Grocery in SF, and I've missed the quirkiness.

What I like about my sprouted grains is that they aren't made with flour, which tends to upset my tummy.

Don

Sarah, it's good to see somebody having fun like shopping at the groecery store. =)

Anonymous

Sarah, does Kombucha have alcohol in it? I only ask because some lady was on Letterman the other night, and she said that it was alcoholic. I think it was Letterman.

Steve

Scary stuff sarah!
Hippes= Fun
Homeless Window Cleaners= Tetnis or worse lol

sarah

@Anon- It has traces of alcohol in it from the fermentation process, but nothing that would affect you or that you would notice.

indicowboy

You're the best travel writer EVAR!

Even when you're writing about your own town.

Thanks for that little slice o' life. Made my day peachy-er...like it was trucked in from Shasta too from an organic farm.

Cool stuff.

Lookman

It amazes me how i always learn something new from reading a sarahlane blog.

BrionG

Ditto, Lookman....

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