Grocery Stores & Markets
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Grocery Stores & Markets
My husband and I would like to be more efficient in our
grocery shopping. We moved to the Bay Area recently and live
next to Whole Foods, but let's face it, shopping at WF all
the time gets pricey. We could also take trips to
Andronico's, Trader Joe's, Safeway, and various Farmers'
Markets. But the options are a little overwhelming. We like
to eat organic foods, and use environmentally safe products.
Maybe BPN members will have advice on where to shop in the
Oakland-Berkeley area, and for what? Thanks so much! Eating
The berkeley bowl is the best grocery store that I have ever
been to and I have visited it daily for the last 9 years.
The new berkeley bowl west is also much less busy. kater
I'm sure you'll get a ton of responses to this question. I'm
surprised you haven't heard of the The Berkeley Bowl. It has
two locations - one close to you in South Berkeley on
Shattuck and Oregon. The other is about 1 year old and near
Highway 80 in West Berkeley. Here is their website:
http://www.berkeleybowl.com/ It's the best grocery store
ever! You have to deal with lines at times, but they have
the most amazing produce section of any store you've ever
seen -- I once counted 13 kinds of lemons! Enjoy your first
trip over there...! Berkeley Bowl Lover
That's an easy one: Berkeley Bowl! Berkeley Bowl West is
less crowded (and easier to park at) than the original
Berkeley Bowl. Both have the best produce (and the best
selection of produce, including lots of organic options) at
the best prices--often literally HALF the price of Whole
Foods or Andronico's. They also have excellent meat/fish
and deli sections.
Monterey Market also has some great produce at great prices,
but less of a selection (and not much in the way of packaged
foods and other items). Love the Bowl
Berkeley Bowl is by far the best IMO. Now with two locations
it has gotten much less stressful to do shopping there and
the variety/prices (w/ few exceptions) are awesome. Lots of
organic/local products. I will miss it when we're gone! BB
Berkeley Grocery Outlet I love this place always something
to inspire. Cheese, organics, amazing deals. If you don;t
like something You can return it even without a reciept.
Have you not yet discovered the Berkeley Bowl? It is very
close to Whole Foods and much less expensive. There was a
recent outpouring on BPN about the rudeness of Bowl
shoppers, but I personally don't have this experience. If
you go shopping during weekdays, especially in the morning,
it is fine. Berkeley Bowl West, a little further from you,
might be worth the drive if you have a car -- it has much
more parking, wider aisles, and a huge all-organic produce
section. BB east has organics mixed in and that takes a
while to learn where each organic fruit or veggie is
located. But Farmer's Markets are so much fun. Saturday in
Berkeley is an event worth experiencing. I stay away from
Whole Foods and Andronico's unless I want a specific thing
from there because their prices are significantly higher. I
am careful never to buy an organic item from them without
making sure I check the price! I've gotten home and
realized I just spent an inordinate amount on a piece of
I'm sure you'll get a lot of responses. In Berkeley, food
shopping is arguably the defining activity of our lifestyle.
You'll find we're much snobbier and more opinionated about
our groceries than our clothes or cars.
If you live near Whole Foods, you're not far from the
original Berkeley Bowl on Shattuck, which offers good prices
on high-quality produce (lots of local stuff) and still has
a great selection of other, non-produce items. Monterey
Market is also very good but probably farther away for you,
and its non- produce section is smaller. Andronico's is at
least as expensive as Whole Foods. Safeway's shelfspace is
disproportionately full of strange processed stuff that
doesn't even seem like food, but hardly any ingredients for
real cooking (e.g., dried beans). On the plus side, Safeway
and Andronico's are not as crowded, so they, along with
WHole Foods are occasional convenience stops for me.
Farmer's Markets are lovely, but they are not cheap. One
really fun one is Oakland's Temescal Market on Sunday
mornings. Nearer to you is Berkeley's Derby St. Market on
Tuesday afternoons. That one is pretty nice but a bit
I shop everywhere, to be honest, depending on what I need. I
use Costco for the staples such as toilet paper, paper
towels, office supplies, dish detergent, etc. Costco carries
a lot more organic and biodegradable products now, which is
nice. Then I bounce between Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and
Berkeley Bowl, all depending on what I need, what other
errands I have, and patience level with any given parking
lot at whatever time of day.
Sometimes, I'll go to Trader Joe's, then pop into Whole
Foods for whatever fresh produce or gluten-free products I
need on my way home.
berkeley bowl west.
we do a bulk shop at Costco every 2 months or so. Always go
with a list and I keep a list in excel of the items we
purchase there. I check my shelves and freezer against my
Costco buy list and figure out what I really need, keeps us
from over-buying or forgetting. Weekly we go to Monterey
Market, same day, same time, it just fits with our schedule.
Over the weekend we fill in any gaps at Andronicos and get
anything we can't get at Monterey, forgot or ran out of.
Andronicos is a walk for us and not such a hassle as
Safeway, Whole Foods, etc. Since it's not our major
shopping for the week, the higher prices aren't a big deal
and we've always found the friendly staff to be a nice
bonus. We occasionally go to Trader Joes, but haven't found
it to be useful for weekly food shopping. It's always
crowded and has a lot of prepared foods. When I did
one-stop shopping, I went to Andronicos. It was convenient,
had everything and wasn't a hassle which was more important
to me than price. imho it's not a bargain if i have to deal
with nasty people. annon shopper
Safeway actually has a great selection of organics under
their 'O' organics line - they are a local store (based in
Pleasanton) and are actually very progressive - goods are
trucked in biodiesel, stores are solar, etc. The quality of
their organics is excellent and in all cases so far better
than the 365 line from WF. I combine that with my local
farmer's market for produce. Alternately you can try Farmer
Joe's to do all your shopping in one place - there is a
small one on 35th and a huge one in the Fruitvale, they have
a good selection of natural, organic and conventional and
good prices and without the attitude or traffic of Berkeley
After seeing the great number of posts touting the Berkeley
Bowl and Berkeley Bowl West, I had to weigh in. The BB and
BBW have great produce, yes. And the produce is fairly
reasonably priced. But other all the other items that I buy
for my family cost a little more to WAY more (as much as
50%) than the exact same items and very similar items at
other stores... like Trader Joe's or Target or El Cerrito
Natural Grocery. Also, they change the prices (at least on
items I buy) very often... start at a reasonable price, jack
it up a couple of times, then lower it a little but not back
to the original.
In times like these, I cannot afford to do the one-stop-shop
anymore. I hit BBW, Trader Joe's, Target and ECNG and
Berkeley Natural Grocery. For me, it isn't inconvenient
because they are all essentially on my way to and from where
my children go to school.
I haven't found the shoppers at BBW to be rude, but some of
the people who work there sure are! Like MOST of the
organic produce weighers, for example. careful shopper
Does anyone else have experience with rudeness at Berkeley
Bowl and Monterey Market? Whenever I go to one of these
stores I get bumped into by someone's shopping cart at least
once. People rarely say excuse me when this happens and
people often seem lost in their own worlds. This doesn't
happen to me at Safeway or Trader Joe's. I enjoy these
stores, but sometimes this seemingly rude behavior is just
too much. Is this just me?
I agree wholeheartedly. Folks shopping at the Berkely Bowl
are amazingly clueless. They stand and chat mid aisle
blocking the flow of traffic. They desperately cling to
their carts blocking everyone else's view of the meat or
fish counter display. Or they stand like a yawning lump
waiting for the checker to also bag their order as the line
grows longer. Wake up Berkeley!
I stopped going to the Berkeley Bowl years ago because the
experience left me feeling so stressed and angry. Prowling
for parking spaces and navigating aisles crowded with
hostile people is not worth the few dollars saved at the
check out stand. I LOVE the vibe at Trader Joes and look
forward to grocery shopping. For fruit and vegetables, I go
to local farmers markets.
There is an increasingly high number of shoppers who leave
their carts in the middle of the aisle, are on the phone,
take ages to find the products they need without leaving
room for other more decisive customers, and generally lack
concern for others. And sometimes these people are in the
way and get bumped into. This should lead to an apology, I
agree with you on that point!
I believe it is possible to avoid getting bumped by sticking
to the sides/leaving carts in less busy areas while shopping
in busy sections and being attentive to other shoppers.
I refer to the Berkeley Bowl as ''The Berkeley Brawl'' because
of the consistent rudeness I've experienced there (fellow
patrons, not employees) - in particular at the store on
Shattuck. So many patrons were angry or discourteous that I
stopped shopping there years ago. Trader Joe's and
Andronico's provide a better all around experience AND their
employees seem markedly happier (and more helpful), too.
I wish I had the answer on how to reform the rude and
self-righteous attitudes that abound in this town. Hopefully
modeling kind behavior for the younger generations will pay
off and eventually rub-off on the rude adults who witness it.
-- Longing for more civility among Berkeleyans
It's not just you. I had a couple of experiences at Berkeley
Bowl that caused me never to return. When my daughter was
about 1 year old she was sitting in the cart while I
shopped. Her little hands were resting on the sides of the
cart when this rude lady rushed by and smashed my daughter's
hand with her cart. She didn't stop to apologize or check to
see the damage she had caused my daughter. My daughter was
in severe pain and crying uncontrollably. After I consoled
my daughter, I tracked down the lady and gave her a piece of
my mind. To which she replied that ''I'' was being rude!! I
also do not appreciate being harassed in the parking lot by
people because of the type of car I am driving. I think the
store management should do something about it.
No Berkeley Bowl for Me
Berkeley Bowl is a nightmare. Especially if you have kids.
I find the shoppers there are incredibly rude and frantic-
literally grabbing fruit out of your hands. My husband
flat-out refuses to shop there anymore. You are not alone
in your observations, that's for sure.
Hate the Bowl
I had to laugh when I read this. You are not alone!!!! I
find most of the people at BB rude, self-centered, selfish
and more interested in helping the earth than caring for the
living breathing humans they come in contact with. I have
actually stopped going there because of this. There is also
a group on facebook called I Hate Berkeley Bowl and it is
just for the same reasons you stated.
There are many other stores ( Alameda Natural Grocery(
awesome and kid friendly) in Alameda, Rainbow( great people
all around) in the city) that provide a welcoming
environment for people with and without children and they
have great produce too.
Right there with you sista!
You are not alone. BB is one of the most annoying places
to shop...people are rude, have bumped into me and not
said sorry....its pretty lame.
It is really too bad since they have such delicious food
at a good price, but honestly, its not worth the effort
Try Berkeley Bowl West. It's rarely crowded during the
week, plenty of parking, wide aisles. I find customers and
employees to be friendly and helpful.
I refuse to ever go to Monterey Market, and why bother w/
the old Berkeley Bowl?
Yes! I shop at Berkeley Bowl about twice a week and often
get bumped, or blocked (mainly in the fruit/veggie area).
The aisles are not large enough to accommodate the number of
people and the carts in my opinion. As for the lack of
manners...well..I don't know why...
I chalk it up as the price to pay for having 20 types of
apples to choose from.
If you can go at less busy times it makes a world of difference.
-I still say sorry/excuse me
No, you are not imagining things. I have always found rather
a lot of rude customers at Berkeley Bowl--i.e., in a hurry
and a world of their own--and Monterey Market can be so
crowded that it's hard not to get in other people's way.
When a shopper on a cell phone runs a cart into my Achilles
tendon, I remind myself that some people are having a bad
day, some are tired, and some are on meds that make them
careless. (And some are just self-centered and
ill-mannered.) But I like most of M.M.'s workers and other
customers, and I'd still rather shop there than at a
supermarket, which is stressful in its own way: too sterile,
too many choices, too much junk!
Yes, I can really identify with what you are saying here.
I'm from the UK and am a lot more concerned with basic
manners - pleases and thank yous and excuse mes - than seems
to be the way here, but rudeness is really at its worst in
the BB/MM. It's true that people are just lost in their own
worlds and pay no heed to those around them.
Here is how I deal with it - I make a point of saying
'excuse me' every time. If I accidentally bash into someone,
I say 'excuse me'. If someone rolls into me with their cart,
I say 'excuse me', even though it wasn't my fault - some
people will realise this and respond with their own apology.
If someone is in my way, I say 'excuse me' as I navigate
around them. If I find myself in someone's way, I say
'excuse me' and move. And I always deliver it with a
I hope that by displaying PERFECT manners, sometimes on
their behalf, it will set an example and maybe rub off on
them! Maybe gradually people will start to realise that the
world is a lot more pleasant when people acknowledge each
other and treat each other with basic human respect.
So get on board, and maybe one person at a time, we can try
to lead by example!
Manners Cost Nothing
You're not alone. I've had similar experiences at
Monterey Market (have been to Berekely Bowl twice and
can't hang there at all). I love Monterey Market, my
husband won't go due to the rudeness of some of the
shoppers there. I jokingly refer to them as organic New
Yorkers. It may be because the aisles are narrow, it's a
pretty small space comparably. But there also seems to be
an entitlement present too. If I take my 2.5 year old he
garners lots of smiles and is engaging, so it usually ends
up being a positve shopping experience, but yes, I've been
bumped w/out an apology, cut off, people seem in a hurry,
on a mission ... Maybe just taking the higher road if you
want to continue shopping there.
That's so funny - Every time I'm in Berkeley Bowl it's like no one's smiling, the
drivers are rude and pushy, and so are the people inside the store. Like a bunch
of upper-middle class grumps competing for groceries or something. I don't
understand it - you're shopping in one of the best stores ever! Lighten up, relax
and enjoy yourself.
Haha, this is too funny. I've been shopping at Berkeley Bowl
for about 10 years now (never at Monterey Market), so I
guess I am just accustomed to the store's climate. However,
my sister just recently moved to the Bay Area and that was
the first thing she said when I introduced her to Berkeley
Bowl - how many rude shoppers are concentrated under one
roof. When she goes there, she NEVER takes a shopping cart,
just a basket, because she can't stand the whole stare-down
in the too-narrow aisles. So I think that's your answer -
narrow aisles. That, and limited parking. This is THE ONLY
place where ''my'' parking spot was ''stolen'' from me on
several occasions, with drivers getting out of their cars
and walking past my open-mouthed self, looking purposefully
into a distance. But, love the prices and selection, so will
continue to shop there.
It's funny you should notice it too, but for years I've been
calling it the ''Angry Berkeley Hippy'' phenomenon--and it's
not just the carts, it's rudeness in the parking lot too.
You would think that folks who live in the Republic of
Berkeley and profess Peace and Love would have a secondary
high and were mellow, but no... As a former anthropologist I
like to make social observations and it seems to be some
form of individualistic self-entitlement; like the
liberating freedom of choosing between 15 different kinds of
Fair Trade Bird Sanctuary Born Free organic quinoa granola
entitles them to drive their grocery cart like an SUV freed
from conventional social rules around right of way and
politeness. The liberated non-conformist individual's rights
to occupy social space byond the individual supplants the
social norms of personal space. Kinda like how at any
Berkeleyian musical performance the tribal noodle dancers
who profess ''One Love'' will unselfconsciously take up the
footprint of 5 non-noodle dancing people by flailing their
arms about inevitably violently striking anyone who strays
into their tribal trance orbit without so much as an
acknowledgement much less an apology.
Maybe there is something to that South Park way of dubbing
it the ''perfect storm of self-satisfaction.'' We need to
issue an emergency SMUG ALERT for Berkeley Bowl & Monterey
In the meantime, shop in Oakland/Alameda where folks still
remember how their mamas raised them.
Peace & Love, Socially Polite Self-mocking Granola
This is normal. There just isn't that much space to be had
as ''personal space'' at berkeley bowl. Try going to the new
one, it's much better. I was so excited when I moved near
Berkeley Bowl many years ago until I actually started
shopping there. I can't really shop there unless it's super
off hours. I think I just need more personal space than is
possible there. And no wonder people are in their own
worlds, it's crazy in there! That might be why they don't
notice running into you too.
Welcome to the crowded bay area.
Nope, it's not just you. But I think that a BIG part of the
problem at Monterey Market is that it's just too dang small.
First, if one drives there (I try to take my bike and avoid
that nightmare), one often has to struggle to get a parking
place in the parking lot from hell, and that puts a person
in an excellent frame of mind to deal afterward with the
overwhelmingly crowded aisles, lines snaking all the way
back up said overcrowded aisles, etc. etc. People who might
ordinarily be glad to be alive are no longer of that
persuasion after a weekend trip to M.M. My son flatly
refuses to go anywhere near it. I think that the situation
outside the store already forces people to put on their
mental riot gear. MM should be avoided at all costs on the
weekends and in the late afternoon, in my humble opinion.
Some of same is true at the old Berkeley Bowl, but I don't
find it to be the case in the new one, which is mercifully
enough the one closest to me. So I never go to the old one,
which I always approached with a large measure of
apprehension. What new outrage would be committed in the
name of getting a primo parking spot?
Having said that, the attitudes at Andronico's on the top of
Solano are patently kid-hating, and that does not seem to
have to do with crowded conditions. So there is a culture
of grocery stores, which might make a fun sociological
study, but does not make for fun daily shopping. My advice:
avoid the crazy hours if possible or sign up for one of the
having my veggies delivered to my door
Thank you for asking! I'm looking forward to the
responses. No, I can assure you, it's not just you. I like
the products at the Bowl, generally, but your question
made me giggle. Almost every single time I have gone
there, over many years, I encounter not just rude people,
but the strangest sort of kindergarten-rude that makes my
jaw drop in wonder. The only good side of it is that it
makes for good story-telling, and I get laughs every time
I tell the stories, without exaggeration. Most of the
people are actually nice, but the store does seem to
attract the few folks who really seem to need some help
with their social skills. Once I thought I was losing my
mind and wondered what I'd done to provoke such bizarre
behavior, and my favorite clerk (one of the few who can be
counted on to be reasonable and kind and efficient, and
not look at me like I'm trying to steal something--which
is apparently another issue--) just rolled her eyes as the
woman in front of me finally left, and said, ''I'm going to
quit. I swear I'm going to quit.'' My husband has refused
to go there ever again after having some guy pull a
different variety of weirdness on him. I've stopped going
ever since I got a Trader Joes and a Farmer Joes near me.
What's the point of having people mistreat you and put you
in a bad mood? (And forget it if you show up at the
customer service counter with a receipt for $150 and point
out that a $10 item was incorrectly keyed in and should
have been $5--the woman in there is just as bad, making
you feel like you're scum for asking for the charges to be
correct.) I don't know if the newer Bowl in West Berkeley
is the same-a neighbor of mine says it's fine there,
though she also told me that the staff has asked her to
leave when she was just waiting for the store to open.
It's across the street from the French School, and rather
than embracing their customers from the school, they
apparently have been focusing on the times when the school
folks park in the parking lot. I would recommend shopping
at the Bowl only when your sense of humor is intact and
you're not in a hurry, and it's not a peak period. Oh, and
by the way, those rude people are convinced that you are
rude. Don't expect it to improve.
For some reason, the ambience at the main Berkeley store
makes me so stressed I feel like I'm on the verge of an
anxiety attack. The carts are big, the aisles are small, the
ceilings are high and industrial, and the overall effect is
stress-inducing. People always seem to be in each other's
way, and it's overall really unpleasant for me. I once saw a
fistfight break out among shoppers, and it wasn't that
surprising because it had felt like the stress levels inside
the store had been rising for the hour preceding the brawl.
Bottom line: I love the concept of Berkeley Bowl, and they
have some great items I can't find elsewhere, but I simply
cannot shop there.
I recently discovered BB's West Berkeley site and was
momentarily excited, but it turns out the ambience is very
similar. Things seemed a *bit* more relaxed given that
there were fewer shoppers in (what seemed like) a larger
space, and nobody was specifically rude, but I was still
left with an itch between my shoulders. I think I'll suck
it up and deal with the unpleasant atmosphere once every few
months to stock up on some items I can't find elsewhere, but
the rest of the time I'm stuck shopping at Whole Foods or
Farmer Joe's in Oakland.
I was motivated to reply because my experiences at Monterey
Market are the opposite. It's almost comical and definitely
delightful how courteous and goodnatured everyone is when I
shop there - mostly Saturdays. I thought it was the
abundance of quality produce at inexpensive prices that put
everybody in a good mood despite the crowds and lines. The
cashiers are also frightenly efficient. TJs I find a
necessary evil by comparison.
It isn't just you. I have never been to Monterey Market, but the crowd at Berkeley
Bowl is crazy agro. I think it has to do with the aisle being too narrow (not
Berkeley Bowl West) and the typical oblivious Berkeley type who leave carts in
the middle blocking everyone else. After a time, it became normal protocol to
''fend for your self'' by barging, banging, cutting off anyone who gets in the
way--otherwise you wouldn't be able to get anywhere. I don't shop there except
on the rare occasion and I am enjoying shopping elsewhere in a very relaxed
and pleasurable manner...just walk away...
So Over Berkeley Bowl
It is NOT just you. People at BB/MM are generally rude. I
don't know what it is. I always have to go to these stores
with my (pretty well behaved--although not perfect) three
kids in tow. Sheesh! You would think I was dragging along
three monsters that were spitting on the other shoppers --
which indeed they are NOT doing. In truth, I find
Berkeleyans relatively intolerant of children and the
tried-and-true Berkeleyans shop at BB/MM because... well...
their Berkeley blood runs deep.
Yes, this is all generalizations but seriously I dread going
to these two places because of the other shoppers. In fact,
I've mostly given up on Berkeley Bowl and only shop at
Monterey Market because at MM at least the checkers are
amiable and make fun faces with my kids.
I've seen rudeness at the Monterey Market: Bumping into
you, your cart; cutting in front of you in line, leaving the
check-outline and running back to get something finally
remembered, just as the bill is being totaled-- complete
with lecture about it, should you even dare notice this
rudeness. I've also seen this a real lot at the San Rafael
Whole Foods, including LECTURES from these rude monsters,
for me to WATCH MY ATTITUDE!!! This is so bad that I have
avoided shopping at Whole Foods (whole paycheck) altogether.
I just don't think there's ANY excuse, especially coming
from such ''enlightened'' CONSUMERS...HA!
--Whatever Happened to MANNERS?!
Glad you brought this up. I have this problem all the
time at Berkeley Bowl. I wish the Bowl would have some of
those mini carts. Everyone is pushing around huge
oversized carts, the aisles are crowded, and it's not
surprising that people's heels get clipped in the jumble.
I feel I could maneuver quickly in and out to get what I
need if I were not pushing around the huge boat of a
It never happens to me at Berkeley Bowl because
a) I shop at times when the store is not crowded. This
probably makes a HUGE difference.
b) I pay attention to other people and ''drive carefully''
myself. One strategy I use is to park my cart to the side
and shop the area, bringing stuff back to the cart and then
c) I go out of my way to be polite, engage other shoppers
and expect good behavior from the people around me.
I've heard from others that they get bumped a lot and find
the Bowl shoppers to be rude, so it must be a thang. It just
doesn't happen to me. Sorry it happens to you.
Uh, yeah! I would add the Berkeley Whole Foods to the list.
I can't put my finger on what creates the uptight, rude,
unfriendly vibe in those spots. But great produce abounds in
the East Bay, so I avoid those places like the plague.
Cheerful New Yorker
Both BB and MM are usually busy, crowded markets. Getting
bumped with a cart or two is par for the course. Some
folks are oblivious to others and some are aware and
courteous. My two cents: shop at those places on slow
times of the day/week. Also try to lighten up! Think about
the world today and decide if the energy you are expending
on this subject is worth it. Take a few deep breathes and
You mean the Berkeley Brawl?
Have you tried the new Berkeley Bowl in West Berkeley? The
aisles are wider, it feels less crowded to me.
You are going to get a LOT of responses to this. Berkeley
Bowl has always had a reputation for rude/thoughtless
customers. In fact, it's almost famous for that and the
parking situation. It has always been that way, likely it
will always be that way. I only suggest that you try to
NOT be one of those people. As to Monterey Market; yes,
I've noticed this in the last few years. Didn't use to be
like that, however, so maybe it's the Berkeley Bowl
shoppers moving over to Monterey market. There are
certain 'types' I notice who are more oblivious, rude,
self-absorbed and insufferable than others. I do try very
hard to be careful not to be one of them, and in the rare
instances when I do bump my cart into someone, I am
abjectly apologetic. I do admit to times when I've had
enough of those people and get viciously snarky, but only
to those who are repeat offenders and obviously don't care
that they've just run my foot over for the 7th time. Oh,
and I don't shop at Berkeley Bowl anymore. Not good for my
blood pressure. But really, who ARE those people? And how
come they don't know it?
Berkeley Bowl-- I get bumped too but I've concluded that the
cause is usually not rudeness. The shopping carts are way
too big for the narrow aisles so reasonable grocery shopping
spaciness/ overwhelm at the chaos of the crowded store can
seem like rude behavior.
greedy bowl needs smaller carts
It is so funny that you say that. My husband and I laugh
because every time either of us goes shopping at the Bowl
we come out with a story of a rude or unbelievable
situation. Try to turn it around and look forward to your
encounter, it is not a trip to the Bowl without one. Yes
there are the bumps, knocks and rarely an excuse me but
how about a couple of these...
Like the time I went a women had her 4 year old standing
in the cart behind me who reached over undid his mom's
shirt and started breastfeeding while the mother talked to
her friend next to her. Or the time that there was a
school trip to the bowl and about 15 kids were buying
fruits and vegetable with little wads of cash and the
teacher, instead of keeping them in line let them all run
to the 5 checkstands open so that all the regular shoppers
had to wait for the 7-9 year old kids to count there money
half of which did not have enough so they needed to borrow
from friends who then did not have enough etc. Or the
folks who just leave their carts in the middle of the
aisle (wait, that happens everywhere)! How about the time
someone left with my cart, probably realized it somewhere
in produce and abandoned it, nobody could help me find it
so I had to start all over again! And I was totally done,
just at the bulk weighing station!!
The non shopper in our family eagerly looks forward to
hearing about what happened. I don't understand why it
happens, but I suspect just trying to find a parking place
puts folks in a foul mood.
love the food, not the peeps
I firmly believe that there are well-mannered and ill-mannered people
everywhere. Sometimes when something happens a few times or often, we
tend to label an entire community as being ''rude'' or ''entitled'' as Berkeleyites
are often labeled. I can share a few of my more amusing grocery store stories
to relate to your post. My favorite is the time that I had just moved to the
neighborhood from the east coast and was shopping at Monterey Market. I
had my 8 year old son with me. He and I were 2nd in line at checkout and the
person ahead of us was still being checked through. Oops I forgot
something, so as most of us sometimes do, I ran out of line to get it, leaving
my son to ''save our place''. When I returned, the person in front of us was
paying for her groceries. The man behind me said to me this ''So, you think
you can leave the line and come right back do you?'' Catching me off guard,
and suprised at his comment, I began to defend myself by saying - ''my son is
here'' and ''she's still paying''. He shot back with ''some people would consider
that inconsiderate''. I could not believe the passion with which he shot this
vitriole at me. I was shocked. Said nothing. Wanted to say ''a**hole!''
Picture what I thought of my new neighborhood after that! In general, these
days I encounter mostly considerate people at the market, but the occasional
jerk makes me feel how you do.
Another time, for contrast, I was shopping at Lucky (before it changed hands)
and a very gruff, fast-moving, aggressive woman came running over to the
milk case where I was and said loudly ''get out of my way!'' and then she
gruffly grabbed her milk and stormed off. I think I said ''whoa'' or something
and she snapped something snarky back at me. Can't remember. Anyway, my
point being that there can be rude people anywhere.
Berkeley Bowl West - - - the separate snack bar - - -
''ICE CREAM'' sign points left, ''CHECK OUT'' sign point right
- - - I wanted ice cream, I went left - - - after
waiting (about eight minutes) in that narrow isle, a nasty
guy wearing an orange ''Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley'' baseball
cap knocked me over into the glass front of the ice cream
case and stormed out - - - as I was struggling to get
up (I'm gray-haired and walk with a limp.), the snack bar
manager came and yelled (Yes, RAISED his voice !) ''You're
blocking MY isle !!!'' and that I should not be ''leaning'' on
''his'' ice cream case.
TIRED of nasty people.
TIRED of nasty people.
TIRED of nasty people.
I think that is just the ''Berkeley'' mentality.
If you are at all cute, coifed or look like you came from the other side of the
tunnel, the Berkeleyans treat you like you are invisible and they look down their
nose at you. They are too busy in search of their granola and organic soy milk to
say excuse me I guess. LOL.
Berkeley Bowl is so famous for this there was an article written about it in the LA
I second the recommendation for Berkeley Bowl West. It's a
completely different experience but the same great produce.
I've been waiting for it to be ''discovered'' by the masses and
become like the original, but so far it hasn't.
The Monteray crowd seems so much sweeter to me than The
Berkeley Bowl people and it is only because of what you
say; rude uncaring me me me... While the Monteray Market
folk are more about ''Wow look at these peaches! Can you
believe it?'' While we are all shoulder to shoulder in
That said, I only took my small kids in a back pack
because it is so crowded = dangerous. Although, lots of
little cuties do run around and are in strollers.. I just
felt too vulnerable to risk it. My kids love the pumpkin
climb in the fall! They love the vender's samples, they
love the smell...they see friends from school everytime we
But honestly, as you say, once a woman savagely took my
full cart and just paid for it all and walked with my
groceries!! Yeah, imagine being that stresed to get some
food it the house! It was crowded no carts available and
she just snapped I guess! Though, it actually made me
aware of other people being more...I don't know,... under
pressure than me...
We are so lucky!
After reading all the responses in the last newsletter, I'm
wondering if we're talking about the same Berkeley Bowl! I
shop at the original once a week, and have never experienced
the level of rudeness that was described by many people. I
do make a point of avoiding the store on weekends, which may
explain the difference. Make some time during the week, stop
by after work, after dinner, etc.--they're open until 8:00.
I go when my daughter is in ballet class on Tuesday
evenings, and never have trouble finding a parking space.
Even when I was there on an extremely crowded day (hint:
don't go shopping the Monday before Thanksgiving), the other
shoppers I encountered were very courteous and friendly:
letting people leave their cart in line while dashing back
to get one thing they forgot, and helping some poor guy
standing in our checkout line find the things on his wife's
If therapy has taught me anything it is that you can't
change random rudeness, just your reaction to it. Whereas a
big group acknowledging how terrible rude be people are
at such and such a place feels good in the short run,
ultimately we choose, not those that are being mean/rude,
to make ourselves angry and hurt about it.
I DO notice how one rude person can negate all the little
nice things strangers have done for me all week (let me
go in front of the line because I have 1 item, the car
that let me pass even though I know he encountered
100 rude bicyclists). I work harder to remember and
acknowledge the nice people in the world.
Trying not to be grumpy
editor note (2012)
Here's a hilarious SF Weekly blog posting from 2011 called
"Best Practices for Getting Out of Berkeley Bowl Alive" by Laura Beck :
groceries seems so expensive around here. does anyone have the
scoop on an inexpensive grocery store in the berkeley or
The Grocery Outlet, at the bottom of University at Fourth Street.
Berekeley Grocery Outlet near 4th Street and University. Low
prices, bulk sizes. Although, Whole Foods it is not. My
bargain-loving husband who shops there swears that there is
organic food to be found at the Outlet, but I find that most food
on their shelves is of the processed,
probably-has-trans-fats-in-the-baked-goods variety. I prefer
The best way to get inexpensive groceries is to shop around by
sale price and get produce in season. Monterey Market in
Berkeley for very cheap produce (both organic and non-organic
available, but not all locally grown), Grocery Outlet for bread,
and Costco for bulk-buying staples. If you have food
requirements such as all natural foods, all organic, or all
locally grown, you may have the best bargain luck at Berkeley
Bowl (but beware, it is crowded and parking is limited)
For produce, the Monterety Market (outside) has very good deals.
The Berkeley Bowl has sometimes bags of very very cheap produce
Hi - This is probably not the answer you want, but it is worth
thinking about....What we do is buy one box of produce a week
form Full Belly Farm. You can look them up on the web. We get a
great box of seasonal fresh produce for about $15 a week. (check
their web site to see the accurate price). We pick up our box
once a week at a house in Albany. We pay annually, but you can
pay quarterly or monthly. Full Belly also sells their stuff at
farmers markets and in stores. I had a very interesting
discussion with one of the farmers once. He said, they do not
set their prices so that their produce will be the cheapest.
They set their fair prices at a level that truly reflects what it
costs to grow it. This includes water, equipment fuel,
maintenance of the farm, and a fair salary and good health care
for their workers. To my mind it also includes the longer and
truer costs of less pesticides made and applied to the land, less
fuel for shipping crops from Chile to here in the off season,
less energy for canning food out of season. So in the near term
it may be cheaper, but if one can at all afford it, I recommend
thinking more broadly and more long-term. Here's to good eating,
happy tables and happy bellies!
I am looking for an Ethiopian grocery in the area? Anyone know
of one? I'm cooking Ethiopian for a dinner party and need some
special ingredients. Thanks
Adjacent to Cafe Colucci on Telegraph, just north of Alcatraz (and next to the gas station) is a
small Ethiopian grocer. They sell most of the spices and grains you need, plus ready-to-eat
Cafe Colucci (on Telegraph near Alcatraz) has a grocery store 2 doors down
There are several halal markets in Berkley.As well as, a market on 31 st and Telegraph in
Oakland.These markets carry many spices used in international cuisine, and will most likely be
your best bet
If there's one, it's likely to be around 51st & Telegraph in
Oakland. There is a pretty strong Ethiopian/Eritrian community
in the area, a number of Ethiopian/Eritirian restaurants, too
this page was last updated: Jul 8, 2012
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