Posts Tagged ‘three rivers market’


Originally uploaded by nature55

I love my grocery store if you haven’t noticed. But, today I realized why shopping at a community cooperative really can’t compare to the traditional supermarker. The produce section had fresh, local Morel mushrooms. This type of mushroom is highly valued and even has a small cult following of avid seasonal hunters. The reason a morel is highly valued is because they have a small harvesting season (generally the spring), they are difficult to spot because their color blends in with the foilage, and it is challenging to find a spot where they grow. Fortunately, once a hunter finds a bed of mushroom treasures (generally moist, decaying areas) they can generally return to the hot spot year after year and be rewarded with prized morels. 

Although I have never been morel hunting, I’ve enjoyed the fruitful labor of diligent hunters several times. But, I must admit this is my first non-dried morel mushroom purchase. I am going to eat the mushrooms tomorrow, and I have been trying to decide how to make them the most luscious mushrooms I’ve ever eaten. I’m going to write a few options, and pray that someone points me in the right direction.

  • Pan-fried in butter and coated in herbed saltines
  • Sauteed with butter, shallot, garlic, parsley, and oregano
  • Seasoned, sauteed, and served over local beef tenderloin

I can’t wait to share my choice with you tomorrow. And for all you morel lovers, happy hunting!


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Our grocery system is dominated by large corporate grocery stores. I’m sure if you live in small town USA, you’re grocery options include Wal-Mart, Kroger, and maybe Food City of Publix. Larger towns have more options including elite grocery stores that carry hard-to-get ingredients like Whole Foods, Earth Fare, or Fresh Market. These large grocery stores eliminate the glamour and excitement of grocery shopping. The products travel hundreds and thousands of miles to go from the farm to your shopping buggy. There are rarely local products on the shelves, and the ratio of fresh foods to processed foods is skewed to the later.

So, what is the answer? Many cities across the nation are part of the International Cooperative Alliance. They define themselves an “autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.”  They value “self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.”

It’s much easier to paint a picture of a co-op by telling you my personal story. So, here is the story of my love-affair with my local cooperative.


Three Rivers Market by Cruze Farm Girl

Three Rivers Market by Cruze Farm Girl




Stepping into the Three Rivers Market is like stepping back to yesteryear. The creaky, wooden floors are worn-down from 27 years of customers. The faint scent of apples greets incoming shoppers. And, the earthy, plaid-wearing staff isn’t sporting glossy nametags because they’d rather introduce themselves with a firm handshake and a neighborly smile.

The Three Rivers Market on Broadway Avenue is more than a grocery, it’s a community. Whether you’re on the hunt for local products or in dire need of gluten-free goods, the Three Rivers Market caters to shoppers’ demands because, it’s owned by them.

The prices at the market are comparable to chain grocery stores in Knoxville. A brochure filled with discounts on featured products including frozen foods, canned goods, bulk items, cleaning supplies and health and beauty products is emailed to customers and owners each month.

But shopping isn’t the only option for customers. For just $25 dollars, visitors can be a part of the bigger picture—a local cooperative with over 1500 members. Chris Buckner, education services director, believes, “The biggest benefit of becoming an owner of a place you actually shop is knowing you help support a community owned local business and have a voice in the store.”

            With the rising prices of packaging, shipping and gas, shoppers pay lower prices for dry goods like flour, couscous, coffee or dried fruit by using a bulk purchasing system. Buckner says, “Buying in bulk is more eco-friendly because it eliminates unnecessary packaging, and it’s cheaper because you buy the exact amount you want which eliminates waste.”

            Environmental sustainability is a principle owner concern. In 2006, the quantity of local products offered increased by 27%. Buckner says, “We’re always looking for new growers and producers. We try to look for our local folks as much as we can.” Local products range from cheeses, breads and produce to beauty products like lotion or soap.

            Food isn’t the market’s only priority. It serves the community by donating unsold food to Second Harvest Food Bank and Food Not Bombs, buying recycled and biodegradable products, purchasing green power monthly and offering bus-riding customers free vouchers for purchases over $10.

            The co-op strays away from a traditional grocery because the “money spent here is reinvested in the community. Profits don’t go to an investor that doesn’t live here,” Buckner says.

            The Co-op is open everyday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. In addition to groceries the co-op also has baby food, dog food, books, shopping bags and a to-go deli featuring homemade sandwiches, salads and other vegan and vegetarian treats.  If they don’t have what you want, ask for it. The co-op has one priority and it’s the customer. 

Check out Cruze Farm Girl’s Blog to learn more about the Co-op and check out some awesome photos (Cruze Farm is a local dairy that supplies delicious chocolate, whole, skim, and buttermilk to the co-op)

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