Organic food is known to be a better choice in so many ways; not just for your own health but for the good of the environment too. I’m the first to admit I don’t eat enough organic produce – cost, convenience and force of habit are some of the excuses I’ve used in the past. But when I recently moved to Chorlton, Greater Manchester, the strength of these excuses was vastly diminished, as this is a village known for supporting a greener way of life.
One of Chorlton’s star attractions is the Unicorn Grocery, which offers a huge variety of wholesome, ethical, organic produce. It is a workers’ co-operative, which means it’s owned and managed by its staff, and it also owns acres of land occupied by organic growers who provide a solid supply of fruit and veg. There are dozens more reasons why Unicorn earned the honour of The Observer Food Monthly’s Best Independent Shop. You can find out more here, but the best way to explore is to grab your reusable shopping bags and head there yourself, which is just what I did recently.
I went to the Unicorn without any sort of shopping list, keen to simply fill my basket with whatever took my fancy that day. And what a heavy basket it turned out to be! As I entered the shop the first thing I saw was a beautiful display of rainbow carrots, with purple, orange and yellow veg stacked up high. I was then sidetracked by some huge red peppers that demanded to be stuffed with some sort of couscous recipe I’d decide on later. A squash, cauliflower, beetroot, chilli, chunky spring onions and citrus fruit were just some of the other groceries that worked their way into my shopping basket, along with a few good handfuls of delicious mixed loose lettuce. I spent about 20 minutes happily strolling the aisles and thinking about the dozens of delicious dishes that could be created from the vibrant produce, before heading to the till.
Accustomed to the elevated price of organic goods in the supermarket, I was amazed to find the whole lot came to just over £10. There goes the argument that I can’t always afford to eat organic. And, as it took me less than ten minutes to walk back home with my brimming bags, the second excuse of convenience went out of the window too.
My first shopping trip to the Unicorn Grocery most definitely won’t be my last. I’m pleased to report that every single meal I made with my organic goodies was completely delicious and inspired me to try out more new and unusual ingredients on a regular basis. Alongside the health benefits and incredible value for money of shopping at the Unicorn, there’s the added benefit of knowing you’re supporting local trade and appreciating a holistic approach to business. With a vast selection of storecupboard ingredients, not to mention the deli counter, freshly-baked bread section or drinks aisles still waiting to be explored, I think my greedy sister might have to join me next time.