A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.
If you live anywhere North of the River in Melbourne, or know that Maca, Mesquite and Lucuma are actually foods and not pop stars then you have probably heard of The Fruit Peddler. This organic foodstore is nestled amongst the restaurants and vintage stores of High St, Westgarth and is part of the Terra Madre family of natural medicines and services.
Although nowadays organic stores and produce are easy enough to find, even in your major supermarket chains, as any yoga practicing, clay drinking hipster worth their pink Himalayan rock salt will tell you, many stores have tried but for value, range and quality, but none compare to this little gem. In addition to the most extensive range of products, (they stock over eight different brands of Coconut Oil alone), The Fruit Peddler has its own range of products packaged under the Terra Madre label, across a range of nuts, seeds, powders, oils, grains and pulses at such ridiculously low prices you may need a spirulina and celery smoothie just to calm you down.
Times to Go
If you’re fond of playing dodgem cars, sticking your elbows out to get the last cucumber and are in need of some practice for the Myer Boxing Day sales then by all means wander in for a visit on the weekend where the aisles are jam packed full trolleys, well dressed DINKS and earth loving hipsters all fighting it out for the best bananas.
But if you are looking for a more calming shopping experience, the weekday mornings between 10am and 12pm tend to be the quietest, and provide you with the opportunity to actually inspect what you are buying before placing it in your paper bag and dropping it into your cute little wicker basket trolley.
The only thing more reliable than the busyness of the tightly packed store is the fact that no matter what time of day it is, or what day it is, there will be at least three staff walking around stocking things. And they will be stocking in the area that you need to get to, so if you haven’t been to yoga and stretched before you shop, you will certainly feel like you’ve been afterwards.
Cash Register Staff: These guys exist in a land of Zen. Even when the line is at least 15 people long, there is a baby crying, a dog barking outside and a woman who is insisting on seeing every type of B-vitamin they stock, the cash register staff barely blink an eyelid. Beyond helpful, extremely friendly, incredibly calm and exceptionally skilled at packing as much as possible into your calico bags, they will guarantee you leave the store with well-balanced bags and a smile on your face.
Shelf Stacking Staff: They probably deserve a medal. And a degree in fruitarian gymnastics. The crew out there on the floor do an admirable job of managing to keep up with supply and demand around shoppers who decide to park their trolleys in the middle of the aisle and talk on their phone while a Shelf Stacker waits behind them carrying 10kgs of potatoes. They know their stuff when it comes to where the activated pecans are stored and can arrange a bag of juicing carrots for you faster than Boost can actually produce your juice. When 35 minutes in the close and often crowded confines of The Fruit Peddlar is more than enough for your average shopper, the Shelf Stacking Staff clearly have the patience of the organic Baby Cheesus working amongst the madness for hours on end.
Ten years ago, Westgarth was slowly finding its cultural feet and building a collection of cafes, restaurants and an eclectic mix of stores to service the locals and patrons of the impressive Westgarth Theatre. As the urban sprawl continued, and the hipster sprawl began to creep up Ruckers Hill and towards Northcote, Westgarth became a bit hip. Traditionally the poor cousin of the fancier Queens Parade and Clifton Hill down the road, it was well loved by locals who appreciated it’s close proximity to the city and the Merri Creek, but just a dot on the map to the more exclusive crowds who still loved Brunswick St, Ivanhoe and Richmond. My, my how things have changed…
People come from far and wide to shop at The Fruit Peddler, including many who travel past several other organic stores to get there from places such as Essendon, Eltham and Richmond. They find themselves mixed in very close physical proximity to the mix of local professionals and slightly eclectic artisans and their children and of course, the necessary allotment of hipsters (organic is ‘fashionable’ after all).
Regardless of their aesthetic differences and varying fringe designs, these shoppers all exude a very potent sense of ‘exclusivity’. You see, they belong to the group of people who are educated or ‘in the know’ about the benefits of organic foods. Yes, they all know how to pronounce quinoa, correctly and no, they cannot possibly believe that anyone else knows this as well! Well either that or they’ve just read that Miranda, Megan and Jen all eat organic and still actually have no idea why they’re eating it and are still suffering from an insufferable addiction to celebrity culture.
Either way, conspicuous consumerism is rife in the food industry as the focus on obesity, health and wellbeing becomes magnified within the media and society, so expect to meet with fellow shoppers who feel like they deserve a pat on the back for buying organic. It’s almost as if they expect a certificate with their receipt saying ‘Congratulations of Being Well Informed Enough to make an educated choice about your food’, instead of just recognizing that their reward is good health and enhanced wellbeing.
That said, if you can put up with more unusual looks than a regular viewing of Mean Girls, some gymnastically inclined shelf stackers and a lack of anything produced by Coca Cola Amatil and you have a vested interest in your health, a wish to look like Megan Gale or an insatiable need for the most extensive range of cacao nibs you’ve ever seen, then The Fruit Peddler is the place for you.