Need fresh produce around Boston? It’s not only healthier to eat closer to the food chain, it’s also more sustainable and personally rewarding. Treat yourself, because this is about to be good:
I just got back from a unique and one-of-a-kind alternative wholesale grocery store. Russo and Sons, located in Watertown, is a generations-old farm market turned unique distribution for retailers and consumers.
It has a unique feel from the start with the larger shipping bays. I count six cargo bays, packed with trucks owned by Russo (12′) and one or two that are contracted out to a larger service. Pallets of produce from local farms and, yes, I spotted a Dole case, are unloaded here to the side of the building, which has the basic wrapping and processing needed. Three of the docks are occupied by rental freezer storage units, which extend the size and storage capacity of the main area.
Walking in, you know instantly that the supermarket is a unique exhibit. It’s in a greenhouse for the first part, which I wonder whether it’s the original or an afterthought add-on. Regardless, it’s filled with tables of squash, cut squash, local pear, tomatoes, cut flowers, and bags of onions or potatoes in bulk. Most is produced in the USA, special tags denote local. National production is a priority, as it should be to support farmers during the recession. Local is a priority over organic here, which is a rare sight for being such a big market. Interesting that still not many of these farmers are doing it, from generations of partnership selling here.
The organization of the inside of the store is in long tables, on wheels, about 18′ divided into sections, down both sides. The signs say “Summer squash”, “Butternut Squash,” “Acorn Squash,” with location placks (Produce of USA) made out of white paper and transparent plastic. Down below the tabletop are all the processed goods, canned this, coffee, maple syrup up front, more obscure requirements around back, as well as basic processed foods such as bagged items. The tables dominate the majority of the building, with cheese and bakery, salad bar, and cut flowers around back. There is also a kitchen, supposedly, where they prepare foods to pick up or to go? Also a good amount of baked goods, which are presumably local from farms. Around the side are ornamental plants.
Russo and Sons is based on years of tradition, and recently won Best of Boston for Produce. They have an exceptional record, a busy-bee feeling, and a dedicated customer base. While it is in Watertown (560 Pleasant Street) which is a distant bike, with a car you could make it out. Their number is 617-923-1500 and website at http://www.russos.com/. There’s a video of the restaurant showing off for their award available online.
Finally (the part you wanted to hear about Boston), they do a fresh market in Boston. It’s near BU actually, at the Stata center in MIT. They continue throughout the winter, and set up shop for fresh produce. Find out where the Stata Center is here on Google Maps (It’s the one with the weird architecture near Mass ave past the crosswalk). The market goes every Tuesday, from 12-6 and is open to the public.
Thanks Michaela for the tip on Russo and Sons, it was a trek but well worth it for the trip back along the Charles. Next week, I’m looking at the farm market (I’ll update on here) and City Feed and Supply, another model of local agriculture where the farms are nearer. These posts are both on my facebook and blog, an Organic Mindset.
This weekend: follow @NewEntry on Twitter for organic agriculture!
New Entry Farm Project, Common Goods Ohio?