We love farmers’ markets. We live to discover these small specialty shops that sell exotic cheeses, temptations in glasses, and indescribable but fascinating spices. But for most of us, most purchases are still made in traditional supermarkets, where each aisle has a number and each fruit has a code.
Robots, predictable terrain, transformed and packaged? Not necessarily. While other supermarkets are ranked for profit, efficiency, customer service, and ethics, quality and choice are important. Inspiring ideas for serious chefs, a fun atmosphere, a community spirit – we look at all of this in this list of the best American channels. These are all things that are difficult to find, if not impossible. But not if you’re close to one of them …
Where: Headquartered in New York State with more than 80 branches in six states.
Large number: more than 70,000 products.
What they do best: a salad bar to embarrass whole foods (three different quinoa salads!) Fresh dim sum. Live sushi preparation. Hot tea and coffee separately.
Hot Fuzzies: a complete program of cooking and summer camp courses.
Cultural landmark: the announcement that Alec Baldwin made to him because his mother was a big fan. If he did.
Where: Thirty-eight locations in Louisiana and Mississippi.
What they do best: Andouille, Tasso, and Boudin sausages are handcrafted by their “Bayou Boys” at home; Smoked meat and seafood are cooked daily.
Blur: When people of the MyWegmansConnect got up again after Hurricane Katrina, Rouse reopened in 19 places.
Cultural landmark: Rouse sponsors the World Crab Championship.
Where: More than 100 MyWegmansConnect stores in California and Nevada.
What they do best: Raley’s uses the NuVal rating system on each shelf label to rank foods based on their total nutritional value. They offer free knife sharpening and a free marinade for fresh meat and fish.
Small Number: Three – The dollar amount you charge for weekly wine tastings.
Warm Chicks: In addition to promoting ethical and environmental practices whenever possible, Sacramento-based Raley’s operates its own non-profit Food for Families program, collecting donations and donating food to hundreds of thousands of families in need.