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Reviews (3)

First Review by Leslie Goldberg

El Cerrito Natural Grocery - Edit

I have been shopping at ECNG for over twenty-five years, and wish I could still say that shows they are doing something right. But the bottom line, is that, it is three blocks from my home. The one thing I can still say in their favor, is that I discovered that nearly all of their organic produce seems better priced than at any of the local organic farmer's markets. The produce may be slightly fresher at a market, but for me, the offset in reduced fossil-fuel use, more than compensates for the produce being maybe a couple days post-harvest. None of the produce at ECNG ever looks "old and tired" which I do find at a certain big part-organic chain supermarket. Also, the produce area is well-lit, so you can be sure what you're buying. The staff used to be extremely friendly and pleasant; now it is quite hit-and-miss. My husband was treated with an insulting level of suspicion when he took back a moldy pizza crust; I have gotten snide looks for simply asking that something fragile not be wedged into my canvas bag with 15 other items, or to please pack all the frozen stuff together so it won't melt on the way home. Beyond that, for me ECNG has two serious drawbacks. The first issue, which seems unsolvable, is that the store is relatively small, which greatly affects the available selection of packaged and prepared foods. There are many items such as my preferred brands of vegan sour cream and vegan cheeses, which they simply don't stock, which means I do have to shop elsewhere. The frozen food department is particularly scanty: they don't stock some of the best brands such as Gardein, and much of their small set of freezer cabinets is taken up by meat- and cheese-based products. The other drawback to ECNG is a very personal sensory/aesthetic one. They have an actual butcher department at one end of the store, which for me means two unpleasant things. One, I have to be careful not to look at the dead body parts when I get to that end of the store (and the produce reaches down to that end!), and worse, I have to try to not hear people discussing animal parts with each other. Worse yet, my sense of smell is quite acute, and I am constantly aware of that musty, cloying, sometimes almost-choking, dead-flesh "death smell" which pervades the air of the entire store. This butcher-shop issue is, of course, a "fixable" problem, since the store does not have to have it there at all (except, unfortunately, it does seem to attract a lot of customers looking to salve their consciences by eating animals who had, possibly, a few months of "free-range freedom" before dying in the usual miserable inorganic way). I do find that I have to sometimes grit my teeth before I walk in and take that first repulsive breath. But still, I shop there, because it is a very nearby store and has organic produce.

Pros: all organic produce, fast produce turnover, near my house

Cons: There is a butcher department, small freezer section, limited selection of brands, some staff are very rude


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El Cerrito Natural Foods - Edit

Although they do sell meat, dairy and eggs, this is a very conscious store. At the check-out they will display books like "Fast Food Nation" or John Robbins' "Food Revolution." It's a small store that manages to stock just about everything a vegan would need, including organic produce, a good bulk section, lots of soy and wheat meats, soy yoghurt and other "dairy" products, vegan cookies. Well, yes, all the vegan junk food you could want. What more? They've got solar panels on the roof. Parking is no problem and the employees are very cordial and no, I'm not an owner. And I don't work there. I'm just lucky to live nearby.

Pros: good produce, plenty of vegan junk food, polite and helpful employees


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