Skagit Valley Food Co-op can offer respite from the fast food options that follow most major highways. Organic salad bar with a cup of delicious soup on the side? Available five minutes off of I-5 in Mount Vernon, Washington. It is where we stop to eat on our way north to Vancouver, BC or Bellingham from our home in Seattle. The Co-op offers a full service grocery store, a large deli section and an upstairs eating area that is large enough to handle a substantial crowd.
The store has a large section of bulk foods and a beautiful produce section. Everything is labeled telling you if it was grown locally and whether or not it is organic. There is a big, long wine aisle (see above). The dry good section is well-stocked and they sell bulk herbs and spices. There is a gift store upstairs that has everything from toys to wallets. The weakest link, which is often true in co-ops, is the meat section. It is not bad but fairly minimal. A lot of meat items are missing. To me, that is like going to the produce section and not finding any apples. Why is it okay to be missing a common meat cut? And where is the butcher? Why not house something like Rain Shadow Meats within a co-op?
Since I don't live in Skagit Valley, my main interaction with the Co-op is using it as a place to stop in for lunch or dinner while on the road. They have an impressive deli. They serve espresso. They have a great salad bar. They have a hot food 'bar' that rotates what it offers, also sold by the pound along with the salad bar. They have a big selection of deli items, from tamales to salmon to asian noodle salad. They make sandwiches to order. The sandwiches are fantastic, loaded with fresh vegies with a generous pile of meat and cheese. You fill out a little slip of paper saying exactly what you want and they deliver. It comes with chips and a pickle (pictured above). We always order at least one sandwich when we are there.
The salad (pictured above) was put together at the salad bar. The vegies were super fresh and the honey mustard vinaigrette was tangy and sweet. On another visit we easily fed our two young children from the salad/hot-food bar by loading up a plate with cooked spaghetti, black olives, cucumbers, garbanzo beans, peas and sprinkling parmesan everywhere. It is nice to have some vegetables to offer your kids on the road and the serve yourself bar allows you to buy a small amount of food that is just right for a young child. I love this store, if they were in Seattle I imagine we would be stopping in there regularly.