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Deep Roots opens, hot bar works

by Alex Ashe

‘ alexa@yesweekly.com

To be completely frank, I’ve never bought into the organic-food movement. My light wallet heavily influences my eating decisions and the higher prices for organic food regularly deter me. I also have a generally huge, meatreliant appetite: When organic meat options are limited, so are my choices for organic foods that I know can satisfy my hunger. I fully appreciate the sentiment of organic food and understand that it’s desirable for many. But I’ve just kind of accepted that it’s not really for me. Although I’m not proud of it, I’m more likely to opt for cheaper, less-nutritious foods.

On March 18, Greensboro’s Deep Roots Market concluded business at the Spring Garden Street location it had operated from since 1990. The store’s dormancy lasted just a day, however, as it impressively held the opening of its new home on North Eugene Street on March 20, becoming downtown Greensboro’s only grocery store in the process.

Just two blocks away from NewBridge Bank Park, Deep Roots is now set in a brand-new brick building that more than triples the size of its previous location. It’s accompanied by a large parking lot that is nothing short of an oasis in the downtown area.

By moving, Deep Roots expands its square footage and, presumably, its customer base, but it will maintain its principles. The store still specializes in selling organic, locally-grown produce and allergen-free foods while promoting environmental sustainability, ethical animal treatment and fair labor practices.

This isn’t to say that Deep Roots is unchanged, though.

In addition to the grocery store, Deep Roots now offers a hot/cold bar and other freshlyprepared, ready-to-eat foods. It also features a dining area consisting of a dozen small tables and a window-side counter. Unlike previous locations, the new store sells beer and wine. The beer section offers some of the most revered craft beers and Pabst Blue Ribbon as its token cheap swill. It’s no Bestway in this regard, but it should satisfy beer snobs and hipsters alike. Deep Roots, which now offers free wifi, has also expanded its bulk and frozen food sections and even features a machine where customers can make their own peanut butter in the store.

The grocery store offers more than just food. Deep Roots sells a variety of non-foods including cosmetic products, organic dietary supplements and eco-friendly shower filters.

Deep Roots’ contemporary interior gives it the vibe of a smaller version of Earth Fare or other stores of that ilk. Its comparatively small size is accentuated by the abundance of customers in just its third day of business. There are people at every turn, many of whom are holding conversation. Whether it involves employees or customers, there is an overwhelming sense of community at Deep Roots.

Unlike other leading groceries, Deep Roots is collectively owned and operated by its customers, who can choose to buy equity and become owners in the co-op, giving them access to occasional owner-exclusive promotions, as well as the power to elect the market’s board of directors, which makes decisions involving the store’s long-term future. Lifetime ownership costs $100 per household, most of which can be refunded, say if an owner is moving. There are currently more than 2,000 co-owners of Deep Roots Market.

The grocery store is impressive and should be a very welcome addition to this part of town, but I’m here to try the hot bar. The hot bar choices include three soups, two meatbased items and a handful of vegetable mixtures. I’m hoping to improve my attitude towards organic food, but I’m going to need some meat to bridge the sensibilities. I order a piece of ginger-soy marinated chicken, a Mexican-style turkey casserole and some mixed greens.

The chicken, roughly half of a breast, is extremely juicy and tender. The sweet, Asianinspired marinade works well, but I wish it was a bit more prominent in the overall flavor. The mixture of collards and kale is also prepared in an Asian sauce, nicely complementing the chicken. The turkey casserole is a brilliant amalgam of chopped turkey, cheddar cheese, pinto beans, sour cream, pieces of tortilla chips and an enchilada sauce. The oven bake and tortilla chips give the casserole an occasional crispiness, contrasting its otherwise soft, sticky consistency. With its slightly-spicy, cheesy taste and perfect texture, the casserole is one of the best things I’ve eaten in recent memory.

It’s unlikely that organic food will become cheaper any time soon, but with all of the redeeming factors involved, especially at Deep Roots Market, I’m beginning to believe that it may be worth the money.

WANNA go?

Deep Roots Market; 600 N. Eugene St., Greensboro; 336.285.9317; Deeprootsmarket.coop

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