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Grab a taste of Thurston County

Explore local flavors

Olympia Food Co-Op's Eastside store has the best salad bar. Photo credit: Winter Teems

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Even in these days of free samples at the supermarket, shopping for groceries can be ho-hum. Once you get inside a big store filled with big brands, you could be anywhere in the country.

It doesn't have to be that way around here. If you know where to shop, a trip to the store can be an opportunity to explore local culture and add a different flavor to meals.

Olympia Farmers Market

What: The farmers market takes local seriously. Vendors must live within 100 miles of the market, and all of the produce is grown in the state, although some of it does come from Eastern Washington. Besides super-fresh fruits and vegetables, the market's vendors sell meats, baked goods, honey, jam, salsa, soap and handmade items from purses to paper goods to pottery.

With restaurants and free live music, the market is also a popular spot for gathering and people watching.

Where: 700 Capitol Way N., Olympia

Hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday-Sunday April through October and Saturday and Sunday in November and December

Food find: It depends on the season - berries, cherries, peaches, apples - but gingerbread boys and girls from San Francisco Street Bakery are a hit with children any time.

More information: 360.352.9096 or

Olympia Food Co-Op

What: The co-op's two locations put a priority on food that's local, organic and GMO free. All meat is organic or naturally raised. There's a lot more to choose from at the Eastside location, which is just off I-5. The Westside location has a funky neighborhood vibe and a free store out front where people bring clothing and household items that need new homes.

Where: Eastside at 311 Pacific Ave. SE, Olympia; Westside at 921 Rogers St. NW, Olympia

Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Food find: When there's no time to cook, the salad bar and soups - try the African chicken peanut - at the Eastside Co-Op can save dinner. (There are even a few tables up front, so you can eat in the store.)

More information: 360.956.3570 (Eastside), 360.754.7666 (Westside) or

Olympia Local Foods

What: This small shop has a wide selection of organic foods as well as items suitable for vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free diets. Not everything is local, but local offerings are plentiful, including two delicious kinds of locally made chocolates.

Where: 2010 Black Lake Blvd. SW, Olympia

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Food find: The store offers free-range organic rotisserie chicken, available fresh and hot after 2 p.m. Thursday-Sunday.

More information: 360.943.5573 or

The Olympia Seafood Co.

What: This fish market sells live crab, fresh fish, crab cakes and a few accompaniments. Much of the fish is from here in the Northwest. Service is a highlight; they'll take the bones out of your fish and put it on ice so it stays fresh till you get home.

Where: 411 Columbia St. NW, Olympia

Hours: noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

Food find: It depends on the season, but the market has fresh-caught wild salmon earlier in the spring than most grocery stores.

More information: 360.570.8816 or

Stewart's Meat Market

What: Stewart's meat is all raised without hormones and antibiotics. The company raises most of the beef it sells and offers grass-fed, Angus and organic beef. It's also famous for its beef jerky and other smoked meats.

Where: 17821 State Hwy. 507, Yelm. Stewart's also sells its products at the Olympia Farmers Market and Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Food find: The extensive line of smoked meats includes the exotic. Elk jerky, anyone? Or how about ostrich pepperoni?

More information: 360.458.2091 or

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