For a while now, we've been hearing about a 100% plant-based supermarket planning to open in early 2013 in a space just south of Central and McDowell. It's called VegCo and they already have a big social media following with over 1500 likes on their Facebook page.
We got the early scoop for you from the health and environmentally-conscious owner, Heather Francois.
Inspired by the movies Forks Over Knives and Earthlings, Francois started researching Arizona's year-round growing capabilities and how she could help make plant-based foods easier and more affordable to source and eat.
Her solution is this market, which is roughly 12,000 square feet and includes a grocery store, deli and bakery, a demonstration kitchen, a classroom and an indoor demonstration garden. She's planned to organize the courses based around cooking skills, urban farming, and health and wellness.
Her goal is "to offer a full spectrum of high quality plant foods at truly affordable prices."
The majority of food sold at VegCo Market will be unpackaged to reduce waste and lower food costs.
You won't find any meat, fish, dairy, eggs or honey at this market. VegCo Market will contain a complete offering of plant-based foods including fresh produce section (sourcing organic and locally-grown foods), grains and grain products (breads, pastas, cereals, etc.), legumes, nuts and seeds, alternatives to meat, seafood and dairy, seasonings and spices, and culinary tools with which to prepare these foods.
The grocery store portion will be membership-based, including the produce department. "Areas of VegCo open to the public are: the deli and bakery, as well as VegCo 101 which includes the large classroom, the demonstration kitchen and the demonstration garden," Francois tells us.
We wondered why she's incorporated a membership program. She explained that it's not a co-op, but more like a buying club, like a Costco or Sam's Club. She explained that since "local food distribution is in its infancy," she wanted to be able to "manage expectations between shoppers and farmers more closely. In order to ensure that our supply matches the demand, we feel it is very important to know how many shoppers to expect and how much they typically buy of each item. This way we reduce the risk of over or under ordering products."
Membership is $50, annually, plus tax.
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She will offer another option for those who choose to forgo the fee. "For those who prefer not to pay the membership fee, we will offer them the opportunity to volunteer a few hours with one of our local growers instead of paying. This is great for lower income families or those who simply wish to understand more about where their food comes from," Francois says.
She also tells us that she plans to link their inventory database to their website so that they can be sure that the market patrons will have their favorite foods available when they head to the market.
What do you think about a 100% plant-based market? Do you think vegans and omnivores alike will support such a venture?