Saturday, January 20, 2007

Viva - Vegetables for Cheap

I did it. No, I’m not entirely proud. I speak about it carefully, to a selective audience; and only with a full explanation.

So it wasn’t organic. No, none of it. But prices for organic red leaf lettuce were up 20% in one week at Whole Foods and the heads were small. They were $2.50 each! The cucumbers were limp and pricey. They didn’t even have long ones other than overpriced English types. They were mushy too. And you know the English – all tidy and put together on the outside but inside, brutal.

This week, instead of shelling out top dollar for Whole Foods vegetables I went to a super-discount store in New Rochelle: Viva Ranch. For what I would pay for a single limp cuke at Whole Foods, I got five long green crispy cucumbers at Viva. Yeah, five for a single dollar! And the Kirby cukes were cheap too. And crisp, and crisp. The lettuce was full leafed and cost ninety nine cents. Pomegranates for a buck a piece were piled in huge boxes up front. Mangoes cost the same – mangoes with a sweet ambrosial scent with undertones of limes and honey. Not the diseased stiff kind from Stop and Shop mind you. It cost me one fifty for a quart of California strawberries. Yes they were ripe. No, not overripe. They were small and tender with a wet sweetness that bloomed with berry tang. There is no way I could get out of Whole Foods with the same product for less than twice as much (legally). Plus they have Mexican herbs (and salt) for sale along with piles of fresh and dried chili peppers. Parking is free. For the language impaired, English is spoken.

Now, I am a firm believer in personally subsidizing local farms and small scale organic production. I will gladly, well reluctantly but consistently, pay double for organic because it supports The Movement. In fact, I have dreams of myself bringing locally farmed delectibles to the masses. I’m working on it. But all too often these days the organic is unavailable or unfit in the off-season and I wind up paying top dollar at W.F. for conventional produce. Now there is a good alternative – Viva!

There are two Viva markets in New Rochelle. Both are excellent, well stocked (actually amazingly well stocked) and cheap-adi-cheap. Parking is available at the Centre Street location. On Main, it’s the street.

Viva Ranch Fruit Market
477 Main Street
38 Centre Street
New Rochelle

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