Where to shop for fun and health

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Four Manhattan go-to places for nutritious and well-sourced groceries


  • Into the shopping cart at the 4th Street Food Co-op. Photo: Liz Richards

  • Zabar's is a community staple. Photo: kennejima, via flickr

  • Olive section at Zabar's. Photo: Shinya Suzuki, via flickr

When I first moved to New York, the question I got most often from friends and family back home was, “Where do you do your grocery shopping?” The assumption was that I had to stock up at Whole Foods, whose prices can be steep for a millennial grad student/waitress/aspiring writer, or wait endlessly in line at Trader Joe’s. Don’t get me wrong, I love both of those places. The occasional splurge on raw almonds from Whole Foods or a leisurely day out at Trader Joe’s are two of my favorite ways to spend time. But for day-to-day food shopping, it’s essential to have a few go-to places for fast and affordable groceries that are nutritious and sourced well. Here are a few of my favorite spots:

4th Street Food Co-Op

This Lower East Side gem has been a hidden staple of the community for over forty years. In recent years, they’ve gone completely vegetarian, but not vegan. That means that they are the perfect not-so-secret shop for organic produce that is locally sourced whenever possible, a robust selection of bulk grains (plus two different coffee roasts, a variety of snack mixes, flours, cocoa, and more), herbal teas, oils and a few packaged organic snacks. It is a small and modest space, but packed with all of the essentials for your cupboard. The best part about the 4th Street Food Co-Op? Unlike most food co-ops throughout the city, they are open to the public. They accept both working and non-working memberships (which come with proportional discounts) but any and everyone is welcome and encouraged to shop there.

Garden of Eden

A fixture of Union Square, Garden of Eden is a prime destination for NYU and New School students because of its locale — and a student discount in light of slightly higher prices. Walking into this store feels like walking into an open market. The produce is bountiful, beautifully displayed and very well-maintained. The store has a wide selection of breads, meats and cheeses. They also have a food bar, baked goods and sushi. Garden of Eden is one of the largest local grocery stores in the area and the presentation is one of the best. It’s easily accessible from Union Square or Fifth Ave, and is an all-around great place to shop.


The name sounds like C-Town should belong to a big chain grocery store, and that’s because it does, kind of. With hundreds of locations sprinkled throughout NYC, it is one of the largest independent grocery stores around. It’s almost too big to fall into this category. However, C-Town does carry options that are organic and locally sourced. Stores are clean and inviting, and with a membership rewards program that mimics corporate grocery stores, C-Town is a convenient and affordable place to shop.


No list of favorite local grocery stores would be complete without this legend. The world-famous establishment has called 80th and Broadway home for generations and is still a great place to shop. Better known for their coffee, deli classics and overall cultural significance, Zabar’s is also a wonderful grocery store. The deli is superior, boasting an unbelievable display of packaged meats, soups, salads and more. The produce is clean and well-stocked. Zabar’s bagels and breads department is extraordinarily fresh. Not only is this a community staple and a one-of-a-kind experience, it’s also a fun and fully functional grocery store for Upper West Siders.

The city is full of options for grocery shopping. It’s easier here than anywhere to shop locally, affordably, responsibly and — most important — deliciously. In every corner of the city there are fun and fresh places to shop to stock our cupboards and fuel our busy lives. Happy eating!

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