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Fresh for less at neighborhood grocers by Mara Grbenick

Posted on August 09, 2011

Fresh for less at neighborhood grocers by Mara Grbenick

If you are one of the many people who struggle to eat enough fresh fruits and
vegetables, look no further. Three local groceries offer an impressive rainbow of
produce at low prices, and provide other perks like organic or unusual ingredients.
Rogers Park stores including Devon Market, Morse Fresh Market and New Leaf Natural
Grocery give consumers more choice.

When Karen Keane and Steve Parks started New Leaf Natural Grocery eight years ago,
they had a plan to make buying more fresh produce easier to do. They instituted a special
produce box program that doesn’t require a commitment or a significant upfront
payment. The boxes ensure customers receive a range of items sourced from an organic
wholesaler.

Like all the stores, New Leaf Natural has a loyal following. Co-owner Karen Keane said,
“it’s super easy for customers to come in and out of the box program.” On a week-toweek
basis, customers can decide within three days of the packing date if they’d like a
box. Keane added that the boxes allow people to “stretch their food dollar” and still get
organic produce.

A “mixed fruits and veggies” box starts at $15 and might include an assortment of things
like kiwi, bananas, apples, lettuce, beets, cucumber, red onions, swiss chard, carrots, and
potatoes. The boxes can picked up or delivered for an additional fee. Several box sizes
and varieties are available and more information is available on the store’s website.
Jill Samplawski, who has worked for three years at the store, said that many families and
young professionals take advantage of the box program because they have become more

concerned about eating healthy and organic. It allows them to experiment. Samplawski
said that although some customers would like to see a “truly local box,” the produce is
sourced from beyond the local region to provide access to diverse organic and minimally
chemical-treated produce year round.
While New Leaf Natural rounds out the organic spectrum, it has a smaller in-store
produce selection. At both Devon Market and Morse Fresh Market, more traditional
shoppers will be pleased by the broad selection that lines an entire wall.
Pablo Garcia, manager at Morse Fresh Food, said produce is a focus for the store. While
he tries to offer organic options when possible, “the variety of items is important.” On a
tour of the store last Friday, no fewer than 10 kinds of apples were available—red, green,
and some organic.

And for the budget-conscious shopper at the store, packages of bruised or slightly
damaged vegetables with short-expiration dates are available for as little as 69 cents per
package. They are ideal for foods like soup, stew or stir-fry.

The offerings at Morse Fresh Market and Devon Market also reflect the flavor of the
local neighborhood and the culinary needs of the people who shop there. Devon Market
especially has a significant range of products catering to special diets and foreign palates.
A comparison of prices between the markets showed they were comparable, and
competitive. Broccoli was 89 cents per pound last Friday at Devon Market and 99 cents
at Morse Fresh Market. While red lettuce was $1.29 at Devon, it was just 99 cents per
pound at Morse. Generally, prices for organic produce are a bit higher. Sometimes just by
30 cents or so, other times by $1 per pound depending on the product.

With these grocers in your neighborhood, there is plenty of option and inspiration for
eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Store locations and hours:

Devon Market, 2732 N. Clark St., Daily 8 a.m.–10 p.m.
Morse Fresh Market, 1430 W. Morse Ave., Monday-Saturday 8 a.m.–9 p.m. and Sundays
8 a.m.-8 p.m.

New Leaf Natural Grocery, http://newleafnatural.net, 1430 W. Morse Ave., Monday-
Saturday 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

A publication of the Medill School

Mara worked for three years in New York City as an investment analyst covering environmental, social, and governance issues, but a love of adventure, sense of responsible citizenship and a desire to connect people to each other through stories led her to journalism. Mara received a bachelor of arts from Smith College (Northampton, MA) and is a master’s degree candidate at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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