What if? City Feed and Supply
Like any good idea, City Feed and Supply started with an isolated event followed by someone wondering, “What if?”
The event in this case was the closing of a convenience store in Jamaica Plain’s Stony Brook neighborhood in the late 1990’s. Local resident Kristine Cortese wondered what if there was a convenience store that sold healthy food instead of just junk? And what if that store tried to foster a sense of community among urban dwellers by sourcing local ingredients, and providing coffee and pastries for customers to sit and enjoy?
Cortese and her husband, David Warner, took a leap of faith regarding the answers to those questions when they bought the space and started City Feed and Supply, a neighborhood grocery, café, and deli.
The original location, at 66a Boylston Street, is far tinier than what we’ve come to expect when we hear the words, “grocery,” “deli,” or even “café.”
But the store has all the space it needs to display its careful selection of products, and I can imagine how, living on this block, it would be pretty easy to get just about everything I need in one place.
I’ve challenged myself this month, for reasons of personal health, animal welfare, and environmental sustainability, to eat nothing made from corn. That means no high fructose corn syrup, no corn starch, no maltodextrin, and – here’s the hard one- no meat or dairy products from corn-fed, factory farmed animals.
When I made the trip down to Jamaica plain earlier this week, I was in absolute corn-free heaven, especially in the dairy section. There was the standard assortment of milk and butter from the nationally available Organic Valley that you would find at Whole Foods, but also thrilled to see more hard-to-find products of theirs like Muenster cheese and sour cream. There was also an assortment of cheeses from local sources like Narragansett Creamery in Rhode Island.
It being one of the hottest days, well, ever, the jar of coconut oil that I picked up was in a rare state of pure liquid. The woman who rang me up was nice enough to notice this and wonder aloud whether it was OK. I wasn’t sure, and would have been disappointed to get home and find out that it had gone bad.
The woman in line behind me came to our rescue with assurances that whether the oil was solid or liquid didn’t make a difference in its quality. Both the concern of the employee and the willing helpfulness of the fellow shopper are exactly what set a place like City Feed and Supply apart from its larger counterparts. The great selection of products would keep me coming back, but the friendly atmosphere makes the chore of grocery shopping enjoyable.
In 2008, Kristine and David were able to acquire a second location, about a mile away on Centre Street. The space is three times as large, which means three times more room for great variety. I’ll definitely be checking that out next and make sure to visit their sponsor booth at Boston Local Food Festival on Sunday October 6th!