Grocery Stores & Markets

Parent Q&A

  • Berkeley Bowl organics

    (2 replies)

    Does anyone else find it odd that Berkeley Bowl marks their organic food with permanent markers?

    RE: Berkeley Bowl organics ()

    I've thought the same thing. I think they mark to indicate freshness because the 99 cent bags contain marked organics. I also dislike the excessive use of plastic bags. I was planning to write a letter to management about the plastic bags.

    RE: Berkeley Bowl organics ()

    Odd because it's toxic?  I assume they do it when there is no identifying label, to make it easier for the cashiers to identify as organic. Not sure if I'd like more labels better (like the small organic labels on otherwise-unlabeled organic produce at Monterey Market), but yes, I'm bothered by the toxic ink on my produce.  I just wish they would mark it (if they must) on an area I don't want to eat anyway.  

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Where do you grocery shop?

June 2010

My husband and I would like to be more efficient in our grocery shopping. We moved to the Bay Area recently and live next to Whole Foods, but let's face it, shopping at WF all the time gets pricey. We could also take trips to Andronico's, Trader Joe's, Safeway, and various Farmers' Markets. But the options are a little overwhelming. We like to eat organic foods, and use environmentally safe products. Maybe BPN members will have advice on where to shop in the Oakland-Berkeley area, and for what? Thanks so much! Eating for Less

The berkeley bowl is the best grocery store that I have ever been to and I have visited it daily for the last 9 years. The new berkeley bowl west is also much less busy. kater

I'm sure you'll get a ton of responses to this question. I'm surprised you haven't heard of the The Berkeley Bowl. It has two locations - one close to you in South Berkeley on Shattuck and Oregon. The other is about 1 year old and near Highway 80 in West Berkeley. Here is their website: It's the best grocery store ever! You have to deal with lines at times, but they have the most amazing produce section of any store you've ever seen -- I once counted 13 kinds of lemons! Enjoy your first trip over there...! Berkeley Bowl Lover

That's an easy one: Berkeley Bowl! Berkeley Bowl West is less crowded (and easier to park at) than the original Berkeley Bowl. Both have the best produce (and the best selection of produce, including lots of organic options) at the best prices--often literally HALF the price of Whole Foods or Andronico's. They also have excellent meat/fish and deli sections.

Monterey Market also has some great produce at great prices, but less of a selection (and not much in the way of packaged foods and other items). Love the Bowl

Berkeley Bowl is by far the best IMO. Now with two locations it has gotten much less stressful to do shopping there and the variety/prices (w/ few exceptions) are awesome. Lots of organic/local products. I will miss it when we're gone! BB fan

Berkeley Grocery Outlet I love this place always something to inspire. Cheese, organics, amazing deals. If you don;t like something You can return it even without a reciept. Sharyl

Have you not yet discovered the Berkeley Bowl? It is very close to Whole Foods and much less expensive. There was a recent outpouring on BPN about the rudeness of Bowl shoppers, but I personally don't have this experience. If you go shopping during weekdays, especially in the morning, it is fine. Berkeley Bowl West, a little further from you, might be worth the drive if you have a car -- it has much more parking, wider aisles, and a huge all-organic produce section. BB east has organics mixed in and that takes a while to learn where each organic fruit or veggie is located. But Farmer's Markets are so much fun. Saturday in Berkeley is an event worth experiencing. I stay away from Whole Foods and Andronico's unless I want a specific thing from there because their prices are significantly higher. I am careful never to buy an organic item from them without making sure I check the price! I've gotten home and realized I just spent an inordinate amount on a piece of fruit.

I'm sure you'll get a lot of responses. In Berkeley, food shopping is arguably the defining activity of our lifestyle. You'll find we're much snobbier and more opinionated about our groceries than our clothes or cars.

If you live near Whole Foods, you're not far from the original Berkeley Bowl on Shattuck, which offers good prices on high-quality produce (lots of local stuff) and still has a great selection of other, non-produce items. Monterey Market is also very good but probably farther away for you, and its non- produce section is smaller. Andronico's is at least as expensive as Whole Foods. Safeway's shelfspace is disproportionately full of strange processed stuff that doesn't even seem like food, but hardly any ingredients for real cooking (e.g., dried beans). On the plus side, Safeway and Andronico's are not as crowded, so they, along with WHole Foods are occasional convenience stops for me.

Farmer's Markets are lovely, but they are not cheap. One really fun one is Oakland's Temescal Market on Sunday mornings. Nearer to you is Berkeley's Derby St. Market on Tuesday afternoons. That one is pretty nice but a bit smaller. anon

I shop everywhere, to be honest, depending on what I need. I use Costco for the staples such as toilet paper, paper towels, office supplies, dish detergent, etc. Costco carries a lot more organic and biodegradable products now, which is nice. Then I bounce between Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Berkeley Bowl, all depending on what I need, what other errands I have, and patience level with any given parking lot at whatever time of day.

Sometimes, I'll go to Trader Joe's, then pop into Whole Foods for whatever fresh produce or gluten-free products I need on my way home.

berkeley bowl west.

we do a bulk shop at Costco every 2 months or so. Always go with a list and I keep a list in excel of the items we purchase there. I check my shelves and freezer against my Costco buy list and figure out what I really need, keeps us from over-buying or forgetting. Weekly we go to Monterey Market, same day, same time, it just fits with our schedule. Over the weekend we fill in any gaps at Andronicos and get anything we can't get at Monterey, forgot or ran out of. Andronicos is a walk for us and not such a hassle as Safeway, Whole Foods, etc. Since it's not our major shopping for the week, the higher prices aren't a big deal and we've always found the friendly staff to be a nice bonus. We occasionally go to Trader Joes, but haven't found it to be useful for weekly food shopping. It's always crowded and has a lot of prepared foods. When I did one-stop shopping, I went to Andronicos. It was convenient, had everything and wasn't a hassle which was more important to me than price. imho it's not a bargain if i have to deal with nasty people. annon shopper

Safeway actually has a great selection of organics under their 'O' organics line - they are a local store (based in Pleasanton) and are actually very progressive - goods are trucked in biodiesel, stores are solar, etc. The quality of their organics is excellent and in all cases so far better than the 365 line from WF. I combine that with my local farmer's market for produce. Alternately you can try Farmer Joe's to do all your shopping in one place - there is a small one on 35th and a huge one in the Fruitvale, they have a good selection of natural, organic and conventional and good prices and without the attitude or traffic of Berkeley Bowl. Maggie

After seeing the great number of posts touting the Berkeley Bowl and Berkeley Bowl West, I had to weigh in. The BB and BBW have great produce, yes. And the produce is fairly reasonably priced. But other all the other items that I buy for my family cost a little more to WAY more (as much as 50%) than the exact same items and very similar items at other stores... like Trader Joe's or Target or El Cerrito Natural Grocery. Also, they change the prices (at least on items I buy) very often... start at a reasonable price, jack it up a couple of times, then lower it a little but not back to the original.

In times like these, I cannot afford to do the one-stop-shop anymore. I hit BBW, Trader Joe's, Target and ECNG and Berkeley Natural Grocery. For me, it isn't inconvenient because they are all essentially on my way to and from where my children go to school.

I haven't found the shoppers at BBW to be rude, but some of the people who work there sure are! Like MOST of the organic produce weighers, for example. careful shopper

Rudeness at Berkeley Bowl/Monterey Market?

May 2010

Does anyone else have experience with rudeness at Berkeley Bowl and Monterey Market? Whenever I go to one of these stores I get bumped into by someone's shopping cart at least once. People rarely say excuse me when this happens and people often seem lost in their own worlds. This doesn't happen to me at Safeway or Trader Joe's. I enjoy these stores, but sometimes this seemingly rude behavior is just too much. Is this just me? Anon

I agree wholeheartedly. Folks shopping at the Berkely Bowl are amazingly clueless. They stand and chat mid aisle blocking the flow of traffic. They desperately cling to their carts blocking everyone else's view of the meat or fish counter display. Or they stand like a yawning lump waiting for the checker to also bag their order as the line grows longer. Wake up Berkeley! Tina

I stopped going to the Berkeley Bowl years ago because the experience left me feeling so stressed and angry. Prowling for parking spaces and navigating aisles crowded with hostile people is not worth the few dollars saved at the check out stand. I LOVE the vibe at Trader Joes and look forward to grocery shopping. For fruit and vegetables, I go to local farmers markets. anon

There is an increasingly high number of shoppers who leave their carts in the middle of the aisle, are on the phone, take ages to find the products they need without leaving room for other more decisive customers, and generally lack concern for others. And sometimes these people are in the way and get bumped into. This should lead to an apology, I agree with you on that point! I believe it is possible to avoid getting bumped by sticking to the sides/leaving carts in less busy areas while shopping in busy sections and being attentive to other shoppers. assertive shopper

I refer to the Berkeley Bowl as ''The Berkeley Brawl'' because of the consistent rudeness I've experienced there (fellow patrons, not employees) - in particular at the store on Shattuck. So many patrons were angry or discourteous that I stopped shopping there years ago. Trader Joe's and Andronico's provide a better all around experience AND their employees seem markedly happier (and more helpful), too.

I wish I had the answer on how to reform the rude and self-righteous attitudes that abound in this town. Hopefully modeling kind behavior for the younger generations will pay off and eventually rub-off on the rude adults who witness it. -- Longing for more civility among Berkeleyans

It's not just you. I had a couple of experiences at Berkeley Bowl that caused me never to return. When my daughter was about 1 year old she was sitting in the cart while I shopped. Her little hands were resting on the sides of the cart when this rude lady rushed by and smashed my daughter's hand with her cart. She didn't stop to apologize or check to see the damage she had caused my daughter. My daughter was in severe pain and crying uncontrollably. After I consoled my daughter, I tracked down the lady and gave her a piece of my mind. To which she replied that ''I'' was being rude!! I also do not appreciate being harassed in the parking lot by people because of the type of car I am driving. I think the store management should do something about it. No Berkeley Bowl for Me

Berkeley Bowl is a nightmare. Especially if you have kids. I find the shoppers there are incredibly rude and frantic- literally grabbing fruit out of your hands. My husband flat-out refuses to shop there anymore. You are not alone in your observations, that's for sure. Hate the Bowl

I had to laugh when I read this. You are not alone!!!! I find most of the people at BB rude, self-centered, selfish and more interested in helping the earth than caring for the living breathing humans they come in contact with. I have actually stopped going there because of this. There is also a group on facebook called I Hate Berkeley Bowl and it is just for the same reasons you stated. There are many other stores ( Alameda Natural Grocery( awesome and kid friendly) in Alameda, Rainbow( great people all around) in the city) that provide a welcoming environment for people with and without children and they have great produce too. Right there with you sista!

Hi You are not alone. BB is one of the most annoying places to shop...people are rude, have bumped into me and not said sorry....its pretty lame. It is really too bad since they have such delicious food at a good price, but honestly, its not worth the effort for me! anon

Try Berkeley Bowl West. It's rarely crowded during the week, plenty of parking, wide aisles. I find customers and employees to be friendly and helpful. I refuse to ever go to Monterey Market, and why bother w/ the old Berkeley Bowl? happy shopper

Yes! I shop at Berkeley Bowl about twice a week and often get bumped, or blocked (mainly in the fruit/veggie area). The aisles are not large enough to accommodate the number of people and the carts in my opinion. As for the lack of manners...well..I don't know why... I chalk it up as the price to pay for having 20 types of apples to choose from. If you can go at less busy times it makes a world of difference. -I still say sorry/excuse me

No, you are not imagining things. I have always found rather a lot of rude customers at Berkeley Bowl--i.e., in a hurry and a world of their own--and Monterey Market can be so crowded that it's hard not to get in other people's way. When a shopper on a cell phone runs a cart into my Achilles tendon, I remind myself that some people are having a bad day, some are tired, and some are on meds that make them careless. (And some are just self-centered and ill-mannered.) But I like most of M.M.'s workers and other customers, and I'd still rather shop there than at a supermarket, which is stressful in its own way: too sterile, too many choices, too much junk! Melanie

Yes, I can really identify with what you are saying here. I'm from the UK and am a lot more concerned with basic manners - pleases and thank yous and excuse mes - than seems to be the way here, but rudeness is really at its worst in the BB/MM. It's true that people are just lost in their own worlds and pay no heed to those around them.

Here is how I deal with it - I make a point of saying 'excuse me' every time. If I accidentally bash into someone, I say 'excuse me'. If someone rolls into me with their cart, I say 'excuse me', even though it wasn't my fault - some people will realise this and respond with their own apology. If someone is in my way, I say 'excuse me' as I navigate around them. If I find myself in someone's way, I say 'excuse me' and move. And I always deliver it with a friendly smile.

I hope that by displaying PERFECT manners, sometimes on their behalf, it will set an example and maybe rub off on them! Maybe gradually people will start to realise that the world is a lot more pleasant when people acknowledge each other and treat each other with basic human respect. So get on board, and maybe one person at a time, we can try to lead by example! Manners Cost Nothing

You're not alone. I've had similar experiences at Monterey Market (have been to Berekely Bowl twice and can't hang there at all). I love Monterey Market, my husband won't go due to the rudeness of some of the shoppers there. I jokingly refer to them as organic New Yorkers. It may be because the aisles are narrow, it's a pretty small space comparably. But there also seems to be an entitlement present too. If I take my 2.5 year old he garners lots of smiles and is engaging, so it usually ends up being a positve shopping experience, but yes, I've been bumped w/out an apology, cut off, people seem in a hurry, on a mission ... Maybe just taking the higher road if you want to continue shopping there. Kristin

That's so funny - Every time I'm in Berkeley Bowl it's like no one's smiling, the drivers are rude and pushy, and so are the people inside the store. Like a bunch of upper-middle class grumps competing for groceries or something. I don't understand it - you're shopping in one of the best stores ever! Lighten up, relax and enjoy yourself. I agree!

Haha, this is too funny. I've been shopping at Berkeley Bowl for about 10 years now (never at Monterey Market), so I guess I am just accustomed to the store's climate. However, my sister just recently moved to the Bay Area and that was the first thing she said when I introduced her to Berkeley Bowl - how many rude shoppers are concentrated under one roof. When she goes there, she NEVER takes a shopping cart, just a basket, because she can't stand the whole stare-down in the too-narrow aisles. So I think that's your answer - narrow aisles. That, and limited parking. This is THE ONLY place where ''my'' parking spot was ''stolen'' from me on several occasions, with drivers getting out of their cars and walking past my open-mouthed self, looking purposefully into a distance. But, love the prices and selection, so will continue to shop there. anon

It's funny you should notice it too, but for years I've been calling it the ''Angry Berkeley Hippy'' phenomenon--and it's not just the carts, it's rudeness in the parking lot too. You would think that folks who live in the Republic of Berkeley and profess Peace and Love would have a secondary high and were mellow, but no... As a former anthropologist I like to make social observations and it seems to be some form of individualistic self-entitlement; like the liberating freedom of choosing between 15 different kinds of Fair Trade Bird Sanctuary Born Free organic quinoa granola entitles them to drive their grocery cart like an SUV freed from conventional social rules around right of way and politeness. The liberated non-conformist individual's rights to occupy social space byond the individual supplants the social norms of personal space. Kinda like how at any Berkeleyian musical performance the tribal noodle dancers who profess ''One Love'' will unselfconsciously take up the footprint of 5 non-noodle dancing people by flailing their arms about inevitably violently striking anyone who strays into their tribal trance orbit without so much as an acknowledgement much less an apology.

Maybe there is something to that South Park way of dubbing it the ''perfect storm of self-satisfaction.'' We need to issue an emergency SMUG ALERT for Berkeley Bowl & Monterey Market. In the meantime, shop in Oakland/Alameda where folks still remember how their mamas raised them. Peace & Love, Socially Polite Self-mocking Granola

This is normal. There just isn't that much space to be had as ''personal space'' at berkeley bowl. Try going to the new one, it's much better. I was so excited when I moved near Berkeley Bowl many years ago until I actually started shopping there. I can't really shop there unless it's super off hours. I think I just need more personal space than is possible there. And no wonder people are in their own worlds, it's crazy in there! That might be why they don't notice running into you too. Welcome to the crowded bay area.

Nope, it's not just you. But I think that a BIG part of the problem at Monterey Market is that it's just too dang small. First, if one drives there (I try to take my bike and avoid that nightmare), one often has to struggle to get a parking place in the parking lot from hell, and that puts a person in an excellent frame of mind to deal afterward with the overwhelmingly crowded aisles, lines snaking all the way back up said overcrowded aisles, etc. etc. People who might ordinarily be glad to be alive are no longer of that persuasion after a weekend trip to M.M. My son flatly refuses to go anywhere near it. I think that the situation outside the store already forces people to put on their mental riot gear. MM should be avoided at all costs on the weekends and in the late afternoon, in my humble opinion.

Some of same is true at the old Berkeley Bowl, but I don't find it to be the case in the new one, which is mercifully enough the one closest to me. So I never go to the old one, which I always approached with a large measure of apprehension. What new outrage would be committed in the name of getting a primo parking spot?

Having said that, the attitudes at Andronico's on the top of Solano are patently kid-hating, and that does not seem to have to do with crowded conditions. So there is a culture of grocery stores, which might make a fun sociological study, but does not make for fun daily shopping. My advice: avoid the crazy hours if possible or sign up for one of the delivery services. having my veggies delivered to my door

Thank you for asking! I'm looking forward to the responses. No, I can assure you, it's not just you. I like the products at the Bowl, generally, but your question made me giggle. Almost every single time I have gone there, over many years, I encounter not just rude people, but the strangest sort of kindergarten-rude that makes my jaw drop in wonder. The only good side of it is that it makes for good story-telling, and I get laughs every time I tell the stories, without exaggeration. Most of the people are actually nice, but the store does seem to attract the few folks who really seem to need some help with their social skills. Once I thought I was losing my mind and wondered what I'd done to provoke such bizarre behavior, and my favorite clerk (one of the few who can be counted on to be reasonable and kind and efficient, and not look at me like I'm trying to steal something--which is apparently another issue--) just rolled her eyes as the woman in front of me finally left, and said, ''I'm going to quit. I swear I'm going to quit.'' My husband has refused to go there ever again after having some guy pull a different variety of weirdness on him. I've stopped going ever since I got a Trader Joes and a Farmer Joes near me. What's the point of having people mistreat you and put you in a bad mood? (And forget it if you show up at the customer service counter with a receipt for $150 and point out that a $10 item was incorrectly keyed in and should have been $5--the woman in there is just as bad, making you feel like you're scum for asking for the charges to be correct.) I don't know if the newer Bowl in West Berkeley is the same-a neighbor of mine says it's fine there, though she also told me that the staff has asked her to leave when she was just waiting for the store to open. It's across the street from the French School, and rather than embracing their customers from the school, they apparently have been focusing on the times when the school folks park in the parking lot. I would recommend shopping at the Bowl only when your sense of humor is intact and you're not in a hurry, and it's not a peak period. Oh, and by the way, those rude people are convinced that you are rude. Don't expect it to improve.

For some reason, the ambience at the main Berkeley store makes me so stressed I feel like I'm on the verge of an anxiety attack. The carts are big, the aisles are small, the ceilings are high and industrial, and the overall effect is stress-inducing. People always seem to be in each other's way, and it's overall really unpleasant for me. I once saw a fistfight break out among shoppers, and it wasn't that surprising because it had felt like the stress levels inside the store had been rising for the hour preceding the brawl. Bottom line: I love the concept of Berkeley Bowl, and they have some great items I can't find elsewhere, but I simply cannot shop there.

I recently discovered BB's West Berkeley site and was momentarily excited, but it turns out the ambience is very similar. Things seemed a *bit* more relaxed given that there were fewer shoppers in (what seemed like) a larger space, and nobody was specifically rude, but I was still left with an itch between my shoulders. I think I'll suck it up and deal with the unpleasant atmosphere once every few months to stock up on some items I can't find elsewhere, but the rest of the time I'm stuck shopping at Whole Foods or Farmer Joe's in Oakland. Niki

I was motivated to reply because my experiences at Monterey Market are the opposite. It's almost comical and definitely delightful how courteous and goodnatured everyone is when I shop there - mostly Saturdays. I thought it was the abundance of quality produce at inexpensive prices that put everybody in a good mood despite the crowds and lines. The cashiers are also frightenly efficient. TJs I find a necessary evil by comparison.

It isn't just you. I have never been to Monterey Market, but the crowd at Berkeley Bowl is crazy agro. I think it has to do with the aisle being too narrow (not Berkeley Bowl West) and the typical oblivious Berkeley type who leave carts in the middle blocking everyone else. After a time, it became normal protocol to ''fend for your self'' by barging, banging, cutting off anyone who gets in the way--otherwise you wouldn't be able to get anywhere. I don't shop there except on the rare occasion and I am enjoying shopping elsewhere in a very relaxed and pleasurable manner...just walk away... So Over Berkeley Bowl

It is NOT just you. People at BB/MM are generally rude. I don't know what it is. I always have to go to these stores with my (pretty well behaved--although not perfect) three kids in tow. Sheesh! You would think I was dragging along three monsters that were spitting on the other shoppers -- which indeed they are NOT doing. In truth, I find Berkeleyans relatively intolerant of children and the tried-and-true Berkeleyans shop at BB/MM because... well... their Berkeley blood runs deep.

Yes, this is all generalizations but seriously I dread going to these two places because of the other shoppers. In fact, I've mostly given up on Berkeley Bowl and only shop at Monterey Market because at MM at least the checkers are amiable and make fun faces with my kids. Berkeley shopper

I've seen rudeness at the Monterey Market: Bumping into you, your cart; cutting in front of you in line, leaving the check-outline and running back to get something finally remembered, just as the bill is being totaled-- complete with lecture about it, should you even dare notice this rudeness. I've also seen this a real lot at the San Rafael Whole Foods, including LECTURES from these rude monsters, for me to WATCH MY ATTITUDE!!! This is so bad that I have avoided shopping at Whole Foods (whole paycheck) altogether. I just don't think there's ANY excuse, especially coming from such ''enlightened'' CONSUMERS...HA! --Whatever Happened to MANNERS?!

Glad you brought this up. I have this problem all the time at Berkeley Bowl. I wish the Bowl would have some of those mini carts. Everyone is pushing around huge oversized carts, the aisles are crowded, and it's not surprising that people's heels get clipped in the jumble. I feel I could maneuver quickly in and out to get what I need if I were not pushing around the huge boat of a cart! frequent shopper

It never happens to me at Berkeley Bowl because a) I shop at times when the store is not crowded. This probably makes a HUGE difference. b) I pay attention to other people and ''drive carefully'' myself. One strategy I use is to park my cart to the side and shop the area, bringing stuff back to the cart and then moving on. c) I go out of my way to be polite, engage other shoppers and expect good behavior from the people around me. I've heard from others that they get bumped a lot and find the Bowl shoppers to be rude, so it must be a thang. It just doesn't happen to me. Sorry it happens to you. Molly G

Uh, yeah! I would add the Berkeley Whole Foods to the list. I can't put my finger on what creates the uptight, rude, unfriendly vibe in those spots. But great produce abounds in the East Bay, so I avoid those places like the plague. Cheerful New Yorker

Both BB and MM are usually busy, crowded markets. Getting bumped with a cart or two is par for the course. Some folks are oblivious to others and some are aware and courteous. My two cents: shop at those places on slow times of the day/week. Also try to lighten up! Think about the world today and decide if the energy you are expending on this subject is worth it. Take a few deep breathes and smile. Charlie

You mean the Berkeley Brawl? been there

Have you tried the new Berkeley Bowl in West Berkeley? The aisles are wider, it feels less crowded to me.

You are going to get a LOT of responses to this. Berkeley Bowl has always had a reputation for rude/thoughtless customers. In fact, it's almost famous for that and the parking situation. It has always been that way, likely it will always be that way. I only suggest that you try to NOT be one of those people. As to Monterey Market; yes, I've noticed this in the last few years. Didn't use to be like that, however, so maybe it's the Berkeley Bowl shoppers moving over to Monterey market. There are certain 'types' I notice who are more oblivious, rude, self-absorbed and insufferable than others. I do try very hard to be careful not to be one of them, and in the rare instances when I do bump my cart into someone, I am abjectly apologetic. I do admit to times when I've had enough of those people and get viciously snarky, but only to those who are repeat offenders and obviously don't care that they've just run my foot over for the 7th time. Oh, and I don't shop at Berkeley Bowl anymore. Not good for my blood pressure. But really, who ARE those people? And how come they don't know it? Anon

Berkeley Bowl-- I get bumped too but I've concluded that the cause is usually not rudeness. The shopping carts are way too big for the narrow aisles so reasonable grocery shopping spaciness/ overwhelm at the chaos of the crowded store can seem like rude behavior. greedy bowl needs smaller carts

It is so funny that you say that. My husband and I laugh because every time either of us goes shopping at the Bowl we come out with a story of a rude or unbelievable situation. Try to turn it around and look forward to your encounter, it is not a trip to the Bowl without one. Yes there are the bumps, knocks and rarely an excuse me but how about a couple of these...

Like the time I went a women had her 4 year old standing in the cart behind me who reached over undid his mom's shirt and started breastfeeding while the mother talked to her friend next to her. Or the time that there was a school trip to the bowl and about 15 kids were buying fruits and vegetable with little wads of cash and the teacher, instead of keeping them in line let them all run to the 5 checkstands open so that all the regular shoppers had to wait for the 7-9 year old kids to count there money half of which did not have enough so they needed to borrow from friends who then did not have enough etc. Or the folks who just leave their carts in the middle of the aisle (wait, that happens everywhere)! How about the time someone left with my cart, probably realized it somewhere in produce and abandoned it, nobody could help me find it so I had to start all over again! And I was totally done, just at the bulk weighing station!!

The non shopper in our family eagerly looks forward to hearing about what happened. I don't understand why it happens, but I suspect just trying to find a parking place puts folks in a foul mood. love the food, not the peeps

I firmly believe that there are well-mannered and ill-mannered people everywhere. Sometimes when something happens a few times or often, we tend to label an entire community as being ''rude'' or ''entitled'' as Berkeleyites are often labeled. I can share a few of my more amusing grocery store stories to relate to your post. My favorite is the time that I had just moved to the neighborhood from the east coast and was shopping at Monterey Market. I had my 8 year old son with me. He and I were 2nd in line at checkout and the person ahead of us was still being checked through. Oops I forgot something, so as most of us sometimes do, I ran out of line to get it, leaving my son to ''save our place''. When I returned, the person in front of us was paying for her groceries. The man behind me said to me this ''So, you think you can leave the line and come right back do you?'' Catching me off guard, and suprised at his comment, I began to defend myself by saying - ''my son is here'' and ''she's still paying''. He shot back with ''some people would consider that inconsiderate''. I could not believe the passion with which he shot this vitriole at me. I was shocked. Said nothing. Wanted to say ''a**hole!'' Picture what I thought of my new neighborhood after that! In general, these days I encounter mostly considerate people at the market, but the occasional jerk makes me feel how you do. Another time, for contrast, I was shopping at Lucky (before it changed hands) and a very gruff, fast-moving, aggressive woman came running over to the milk case where I was and said loudly ''get out of my way!'' and then she gruffly grabbed her milk and stormed off. I think I said ''whoa'' or something and she snapped something snarky back at me. Can't remember. Anyway, my point being that there can be rude people anywhere. Been There

Berkeley Bowl West - - - the separate snack bar - - - ''ICE CREAM'' sign points left, ''CHECK OUT'' sign point right - - - I wanted ice cream, I went left - - - after waiting (about eight minutes) in that narrow isle, a nasty guy wearing an orange ''Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley'' baseball cap knocked me over into the glass front of the ice cream case and stormed out - - - as I was struggling to get up (I'm gray-haired and walk with a limp.), the snack bar manager came and yelled (Yes, RAISED his voice !) ''You're blocking MY isle !!!'' and that I should not be ''leaning'' on ''his'' ice cream case. TIRED of nasty people. TIRED of nasty people. TIRED of nasty people.

I think that is just the ''Berkeley'' mentality. If you are at all cute, coifed or look like you came from the other side of the tunnel, the Berkeleyans treat you like you are invisible and they look down their nose at you. They are too busy in search of their granola and organic soy milk to say excuse me I guess. LOL. anon

Berkeley Bowl is so famous for this there was an article written about it in the LA Times: Laura

I second the recommendation for Berkeley Bowl West. It's a completely different experience but the same great produce. I've been waiting for it to be ''discovered'' by the masses and become like the original, but so far it hasn't. Happy shopper

The Monteray crowd seems so much sweeter to me than The Berkeley Bowl people and it is only because of what you say; rude uncaring me me me... While the Monteray Market folk are more about ''Wow look at these peaches! Can you believe it?'' While we are all shoulder to shoulder in there.

That said, I only took my small kids in a back pack because it is so crowded = dangerous. Although, lots of little cuties do run around and are in strollers.. I just felt too vulnerable to risk it. My kids love the pumpkin climb in the fall! They love the vender's samples, they love the smell...they see friends from school everytime we go...

But honestly, as you say, once a woman savagely took my full cart and just paid for it all and walked with my groceries!! Yeah, imagine being that stresed to get some food it the house! It was crowded no carts available and she just snapped I guess! Though, it actually made me aware of other people being more...I don't know,... under pressure than me... We are so lucky!

After reading all the responses in the last newsletter, I'm wondering if we're talking about the same Berkeley Bowl! I shop at the original once a week, and have never experienced the level of rudeness that was described by many people. I do make a point of avoiding the store on weekends, which may explain the difference. Make some time during the week, stop by after work, after dinner, etc.--they're open until 8:00. I go when my daughter is in ballet class on Tuesday evenings, and never have trouble finding a parking space.

Even when I was there on an extremely crowded day (hint: don't go shopping the Monday before Thanksgiving), the other shoppers I encountered were very courteous and friendly: letting people leave their cart in line while dashing back to get one thing they forgot, and helping some poor guy standing in our checkout line find the things on his wife's shopping list. Edna

If therapy has taught me anything it is that you can't change random rudeness, just your reaction to it. Whereas a big group acknowledging how terrible rude be people are at such and such a place feels good in the short run, ultimately we choose, not those that are being mean/rude, to make ourselves angry and hurt about it.

I DO notice how one rude person can negate all the little nice things strangers have done for me all week (let me go in front of the line because I have 1 item, the car that let me pass even though I know he encountered 100 rude bicyclists). I work harder to remember and acknowledge the nice people in the world. Trying not to be grumpy

editor note (2012) Here's a hilarious SF Weekly blog posting from 2011 called Best Practices for Getting Out of Berkeley Bowl Alive by Laura Beck :

Inexpensive Groceries

Dec 2006

groceries seems so expensive around here. does anyone have the scoop on an inexpensive grocery store in the berkeley or surrounding area? thanks

The Grocery Outlet, at the bottom of University at Fourth Street.

Berekeley Grocery Outlet near 4th Street and University. Low prices, bulk sizes. Although, Whole Foods it is not. My bargain-loving husband who shops there swears that there is organic food to be found at the Outlet, but I find that most food on their shelves is of the processed, sweetened-with-high-fructose-corn-syrup, probably-has-trans-fats-in-the-baked-goods variety. I prefer Trader Joe's. CC

The best way to get inexpensive groceries is to shop around by sale price and get produce in season. Monterey Market in Berkeley for very cheap produce (both organic and non-organic available, but not all locally grown), Grocery Outlet for bread, and Costco for bulk-buying staples. If you have food requirements such as all natural foods, all organic, or all locally grown, you may have the best bargain luck at Berkeley Bowl (but beware, it is crowded and parking is limited) frugal mamma

For produce, the Monterety Market (outside) has very good deals. The Berkeley Bowl has sometimes bags of very very cheap produce EP

Hi - This is probably not the answer you want, but it is worth thinking about....What we do is buy one box of produce a week form Full Belly Farm. You can look them up on the web. We get a great box of seasonal fresh produce for about $15 a week. (check their web site to see the accurate price). We pick up our box once a week at a house in Albany. We pay annually, but you can pay quarterly or monthly. Full Belly also sells their stuff at farmers markets and in stores. I had a very interesting discussion with one of the farmers once. He said, they do not set their prices so that their produce will be the cheapest. They set their fair prices at a level that truly reflects what it costs to grow it. This includes water, equipment fuel, maintenance of the farm, and a fair salary and good health care for their workers. To my mind it also includes the longer and truer costs of less pesticides made and applied to the land, less fuel for shipping crops from Chile to here in the off season, less energy for canning food out of season. So in the near term it may be cheaper, but if one can at all afford it, I recommend thinking more broadly and more long-term. Here's to good eating, happy tables and happy bellies! Mom

Ethiopian grocery in Berkeley/Oakland?

June 2006

I am looking for an Ethiopian grocery in the area? Anyone know of one? I'm cooking Ethiopian for a dinner party and need some special ingredients. Thanks Sally

Adjacent to Cafe Colucci on Telegraph, just north of Alcatraz (and next to the gas station) is a small Ethiopian grocer. They sell most of the spices and grains you need, plus ready-to-eat injera. Heather

Cafe Colucci (on Telegraph near Alcatraz) has a grocery store 2 doors down Anita

There are several halal markets in Berkley.As well as, a market on 31 st and Telegraph in Oakland.These markets carry many spices used in international cuisine, and will most likely be your best bet Kay

If there's one, it's likely to be around 51st & Telegraph in Oakland. There is a pretty strong Ethiopian/Eritrian community in the area, a number of Ethiopian/Eritirian restaurants, too