Beacon Supermarket US Map & Phone & Address

Beacon Supermarket US Map & Phone & Address

1028 Beacon St. Brookline; (617) 232-3286 For years, the single best deal Mine has found on fresh coffee beans has been at this old-timey neighborhood market. A wall-full of bins offers dozens of dark roasts, decafs, and flavored beans from just $3.49 to about $5 a pound. Try matching that, Starbucks. Open daily.

GENERAL MARKETS

Arlington Food Co-op

7A Medford St. Arlington; (617) 648-FOOD (3663)

Boston Food Co-op

449 Cambridge St. Allston; (617) 787-1416

The Harvest Co-op

581 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge; (617) 661-1580

The idea behind a co-op, of course, is that you become a member, pitch in a few hours regularly behind the register of stocking the shelves, and get big discounts because of the low overhead costs. However, you don’t have to be a member to shop at these places. The prices are still quite reasonable, even with the member discounts, and the merchandise is closer to Bread & Circus than Star Market.

For members the savings can be tremendous, though, and the requirements are minimal. At the Arlington Co-op, pay a one-time fee of $25, plus $7.50 per year, and you’ll receive a vote in the running of the coop, as well as a 2% discount off every purchase. The Boston Co-op and the Cambridge Co-op are affiliated, so when you become a member at one, you’re a member of both! Their rate is $10 a year which yields you a 2% discount. All three offer deeper discounts if you’re willing to invest time. These are generally around 10% for a monthly commitment and 20% for a weekly undertaking.

Much of the food available is organic; all of it is natural, healthy, and good value. Moreover, co-ops offer lots of unusual options, like delicious curried peanut chicken salad by the pound. There are bulk dispensers of everything, including coffee, beans, organic popcorn, sesame seeds, whole wheat macaroni, and instant fa-lafel mix. Buying in bulk is not only cheaper, but also eco-friendly. Bring your own containers or buy them here, and fill up with cereals, rices, grains, herbs, beans, flour, nuts…and on and on. You can get honey and peanut butter (smooth or chunky, with or without salt, organic or conventional …) by the pound. Mine marveled at the glass canisters of unusual spices and herbs: marshmallow root, lavender flowers, chives, licorice roots, mustard seeds, bee pollen sold by weight. Bring in your own container to fill with pure water for 19? a gallon. And perishable foods, like cheese, fruit, and vitamins, are sold at reduced prices when they get a little past their prime.

The co-op doesn’t limit itself to food; it also carries body care products. Huge pumps dispense shampoo and conditioner into your own bottles; again, a real cost-cutter. And there are enough vitamins and homeopathic remedies to cure any malady from Candida to kidney problems.

Now, co-ops may not be for everyone. They are in many ways a world unto themselves; these are politically active community organizations.

They run several non-food activities, including recycling programs, a clothing exchange, child care, and even free lectures and movies. But again, you can always choose how much or how little you wish to participate. All three are open daily.

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