BEST FRESH PRODUCE Minneapolis 2006 -
The place is tiny when you consider the wealth packed inside. Aisles too narrow for more than two carts snake past a pyramid of pale Colorado peaches, perilously stacked—knock them over and you'd set in motion a terrible domino effect of colorful catastrophe, as peaches would fall upon carrots, broccoli crowns, fat beets, broad red chard, mounds of woodsy mushrooms, and brimming bushels of avocados. Everything is crammed in, fighting for attention, humming with earthy energy: good, good, good vibrations. For over 30 years, the Wedge has been selling the Cities' best produce because its buyers take the time to get know their farmers, be they local, national, or international. The Wedge pays a fair-trade price for sustainable methods and builds this into their mark-ups so that consumers help bear the costs of keeping the water clean and the ecosystems diverse, wherever the fruits, vegetables, and herbs grow. Healthy soil and clean water are the keys to nutrients and flavor—the nectar-sweet heirloom Fuji apples from Jersey Boyz farm near Oregon's Columbia River; the world's sweetest corn from Gardens of Eagan, Lakeville; or carrots so delicious kids eat them like potato chips from nearby Riverbend farms. Labels affixed to the shelves name an item's farm, location, and method of growing—conventional (with petro-chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or fertilizers), transitional (the farmer is working through the three-year certification process and is currently farming organically), or organic (certified by an independent agency). The folks replenishing the fruits and veggies are so knowledgeable on the subject and accessibly talkative that they seem to hold dual degrees in agronomy and psychology. Buying produce from the Wedge is about as close to picking your own in the fields as many of us city folk may ever get.