Checking out New Earth

The health foods store offers an impressive selection of local, natural eats

One of the first things I check whenever I walk into a grocery store is the cheese display. Some are better than others, of course, but the inventory is ever-changing, so I never know what new gem might pop up at my neighborhood Safeway. Every once in a while they really hit it home, but if I want the real good stuff, I generally have to head to The Galley or Zucchini & Vine. (I recently discovered the triple-cream Mt. Tam from Nor Cal’s Cowgirl Creamery at Z&V. Try it!)

So, when I made my first trip over to the newly opened New Earth Market at East Avenue and Cohasset, I made a beeline for the fromage. Not a bad selection—I actually found some fairly gourmet choices: P’tit Basque, one of my favorite sheep’s-milk cheeses; and Délice de Bourgogne, a buttery triple cream brie.

So, New Earth Market has a nice little cheese selection. It would be amazing if there were a counter nearby where they could offer samples and even slice it for you (the P’tit Basque comes in a large round that’s typically cut at least in half, because it’s $25.99/pound). But, the store’s still working out kinks, so maybe they’ll take this to the suggestion box!

As for the rest of the market, the layout is quite nice. Think Holiday up in Paradise. The aisles are wide, the decorations warm and inviting rather than sterile white. What impressed me most was the large selection of prominently displayed local foods, from Orland Farmstead Creamery cheeses to Tin Roof Bakery breads to wines from all over the region. I also like the fact that they advertise the use of organic chicken in their butcher area. This is clearly a store for the organic- and sustainability-minded shopper—don’t expect discount or most corporate brands; the focus is on organic, natural, local, healthy.

So, how is New Earth different from, say, S&S Organic Produce and Natural Foods? Well, it’s a lot bigger, for one, so the selection of items is larger. It’s also got a pizza parlor inside, and people are raving on Facebook about the ability to drink beer there. I admittedly don’t shop at S&S much—but I do love their Butcher Shop, which easily blows New Earth’s away—so I can’t offer much in the price-comparison arena. One item I do buy at S&S, Uncle Matt’s Organic Orange Juice, however, is $6.69 at New Earth, $7.99 at S&S and $6.99 at Chico Natural Foods.

I look forward to seeing how New Earth Market fits into the Chico food scene. I have a feeling there will be some growing pains, both for it and existing grocers, but I bet they all settle into their niches before we know it.