Written by Alex Mashny
Edited by Maggie Callaghan
Since last semester, I’ve lived off campus and don’t have Miami University’s meal plan, which means that I’ve been cooking for myself since September. I usually go to the Kroger across the street to get my groceries, since it is within walking distance and I only recently obtained my driver’s license.
When I would walk through the parking lot I would sometimes notice a sign for the Moon Co-Op Natural Foods Market, though I never bothered investigating any further. This week I decided to stop in and see just what this store was about.
The store specializes in selling local, organic, and fair-trade goods to the Oxford community. The store also makes homemade soups, sandwiches and smoothies in store, and even provides a seating area for customers to eat at.
The store even has a rotating menu of soups that changes every day. After looking over the menu, I ordered a blueberry ginger smoothie. While waiting for the smoothie, a woman caught my eye and introduced herself. She was Bernadette Unger, one of the board members for the co-op. When I mentioned this was my first time in the store, she gave me a tour and explanations for many of the goods. She emphasized that many of the store’s products were locally sourced, such as the local organic produce and baked goods.
Some of the products that Unger showed me included milk and dairy products from grass-fed cows, craft alcoholic beverages made in Cincinnati and chemical-free fruits and vegetables from local farms.
One hot item at the store is the locally-produced bread.
“Our local bread is a fast seller, it really flies off the shelf,” Unger says, walking me through the aisle. It certainly seemed full to me. “But they just restocked, so you came by at the perfect time.” Some of the varieties of bread included sandwich-style bread, crusty, and whole wheat.
Aside from local and organic items, the store also carries many fair-trade goods. The Equal Exchange brand had a sizable presence in the store. The brand emphasizes the concept of fair trade, or paying the producers of goods in third-world countries fair compensation for their work.
One of Equal Exchange’s more well-known products is its coffee, which comes from countries like Ethiopia or the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The co-op allows customers to buy as much coffee as they want to, and even features a machine nearby that processes the beans for different coffee makes. For example, if you wanted to make your organic breakfast blend in a French press, all you would need to do is put the beans in the machine and let it do its work.
A final point of interest for students and Oxford residents would be the frozen section. The store offers many different frozen goods, ranging from frozen beef to ice cream, though those with an appetite for fresh fish might be drawn to the back of the aisle.
The Wild Alaska Salmon & Seafood Co. provide the salmon, and while this brand is not necessarily local, it does ship the Alaskan salmon to the co-op within two days of catching the fish. They emphasize catching the fish in American waters and the practice of sustainable fishing. The fish is even competitively priced – students need not worry about paying super exorbitant rates for their salmon.
Speaking of pricing, co-ops and the organic, local, and fair-trade goods that they peddle in can have a reputation for being expensive. However, students on a budget need not worry about spending all of their money here – the store keeps the prices of certain items down.
“These are our ‘pantry items’, and we keep them less expensive,” Unger explains. “That includes stuff like pasta, tuna, and some other staples too.
“They’re marked by a little sticker, and we have about 45 or so of those around the store,” Unger says, pointing to a pound of pasta.
True to her word, this pasta was at a price competitive with standard grocery stores. There are, of course, more expensive items at the store – bottles of wine, for example, range from $6.99 to $16.99.
Whether it is your first time hearing about this store or if you’ve gone in for a quick bite to eat, the store, hidden behind Oxford’s Little Caesars, almost certainly has an organic or local good for you.
Edited by Annie-Laurie Blair