February 03, 2010

Bulk shopping guide in and around Mill Valley, California

Here is the list of bulk staples available from vendors in and around Mill Valley: all items mentioned here only represent a small selection of the respective bulk sections.

Mill Valley Whole Foods (New)
Agave Syrup
Baked goods (bread counter, croissants, focaccia, cookies)
Cocoa powder
Dried fruit (raisins, coconut, mango, etc…)
Ginger snaps
Grains (couscous, rice, quinoa, etc…)
Granola and Flake cereal
Juice oranges
Meat, fish, deli and cheese counters

Olive bar: olives, cornichons, pickles, marinated mushrooms and peppers, mozarella balls, feta cheese...
Olive oil

Peanut butter
Salt (fine)
Small selection of spices and teas
Straus milk
Sweet snacks (malt balls, gummy bears, yogurt pretzels, tiny PB cups, etc...)

Tamari Sauce
Tofu (in the fridge section next to meat department)
Trail mix bar

Whole Foods, San Rafael (12mins from downtown MV)
All items mentioned above, plus:
Baking soda (overpriced!)
Body lotion, shampoo, conditioner
Coarse salt
Dr. Bronners castile soap
Larger selection of spices (cumin seeds for ex.)

White stevia (to make tooth powder)

My Pueblo Market, San Rafael (also about 10mins from downtown MV) : Nothing here is organic but people are super friendly and accomodating. You can ask the bakery/deli to fill your cloth bag with tortillas chips and tortillas.
Mexican cheese
Non-organic flavored yogurt
Sour cream

Good Earth, Fairfax (19mins from downtown MV)
All items mentioned above, plus:
Agave syrup
Apple cider vinegar
Different shampoos and conditioners

Dishwasher detergent (powder)
Fig bars
Laundry detergent (powder)
Rice Crackers

Rainbow Grocery, San Francisco (26mins from downtown MV): The Bulk Mecca
All items mentioned above (excl. meat and fish counter), plus:
Active yeast
Agar Agar (to substitute for the pectin in jams)
Animal crackers
Baking soda (cheaper here than elsewhere)
Baking yeast (fresh)
Beeswax (1lb block)
Capers (large)
Cooking oil

Dishwasher detergent (liquid)
Dog food
Epsom salt
Fresh Pasta
Large collection of teas and spices
Large selection of body lotion, shampoo and conditioner
Rice vinegar
Soy beans (to make soy milk)
Strauss milk (cheaper here than elsewhere)
Sun-dried tomatoes
Tortilla chips
Wine vinegar

The following stores are in the bay area, and only worth shopping at, if visiting those areas

Berkeley Bowl, Berkeley (31mins from downtown MV): I was disappointed with this one, I heard that the bulk was fantastic and went there only to find out that they carried barely anymore than the San Rafael Whole Foods. A lot of it is items packaged in plastic bags! A total waste. I was able to find a couple hard to find items, hardly worth mentioning though.
Capers (small)
Interesting snacks (incl. wasabi peanuts)
Good pasta selection (alphabet pasta, lasagnas, etc…)

New Leaf, Santa Cruz area (1hr44mins from downtown MV): My favorite of the smaller bulk stores, because it carries the most needed staples for a simplified pantry and one-stop bulk shopping.
Body lotion, shampoo, conditioner
Dr. Bronners castile Soap
Large selection of spices and teas
Licorice candy
Maple syrup
Olive oil
Peanut Butter
Wide selection of reusable containers