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Local Shopaholic: Mayo or Bust

Sonia takes a trip to The Free Market in Appleton to try the vegan version of her favorite condiment…

Have you heard the news? Eating organic is not only healthier for our bodies but also the environment too. So is eating vegetarian occasionally. Now it may seem that it’s just another ploy or fad to get us to buy more expensive food, but in reality the beneficial reasons for buying organic are endless. And the extra cost is only slight when you compare it to the environmental costs of buying from industrial farms.

Organically grown food avoids using pesticides and chemical fertilizers, all of which seep into our groundwater and eventually affect people and animals in one way or another. Food has been turned into a money-making endeavor for big businesses with small farmers being driven out. This industry not only affects our country, but all other countries we do business with.

Now the vegan way of life is a bit more drastic. I mean seriously, who can give up cheese or anything dairy, for that matter? Especially in Wisconsin! But it has been proven by many scientific studies that eating a vegan diet is healthy and has potential to alleviate health ailments.

The decision to try some of my favorite dairy items, like mayonnaise, in a vegan form was a little scary for me. I love my mayonnaise! But a friend of mine had told me about this small store on Wisconsin Ave in Appleton called The Free Market. I had driven by this place many times, but wasn’t really sure what kind of store it was so I never went it, until now.

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I went to this little store on a day I was feeling brave and ready to try vegan dairy products, including my beloved mayonnaise. Let me first say, I have never been to a store with such a friendly staff. The workers were more than helpful at finding what I needed. “It looks small, but I’m sure we can find what you’re looking for” was the response I was given from the checkout person behind the counter.

There was food, cleaning supplies, vitamins, supplements and toiletries. There is even a small section with organic alcoholic beverages. There was produce grown by local farmers and they explained to me that they sell brands that use only organic ingredients. But since I was only hunting for dairy at the moment I asked which mayonnaise I should try. They suggested Veganaise, so decided to give it a whirl.

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After checking out, the person bagging my groceries offered to carry it to my car for me. Let’s just say I was overly impressed with the friendly staff. They even offered me a membership discount for frequent shoppers. It is $30 a year and members receive discounts on featured items and a mailer with coupons, which is very cool seeing as how buying organic and vegan can be a little more expensive.

After the hunt, I went home excited, but nervous to try this new food. What if I didn’t like it? Then I would have wasted the money and felt guilty, but after putting a spoonful on my sandwich, let’s just say, the uneasiness disappeared. It was better than real mayonnaise. It had the same look and texture, but the taste was a little tamer than regular mayo. I wasn’t overly rich, eggy or oily. It was an exciting discovery.

Now I try mixing in things with my Veganaise, like Srirachasauce. That tastes like a little bit of spicy heaven, if you ask me. It has such a mild flavor, you can mix anything into it and it will bring out the flavor of the other ingredients. It has become a staple in my refrigerator.

The easiest way to start eating organic and incorporating vegan or vegetarian products into your diet is to do it little by little. You have to try new things, but once you find the taste you like, you’ll never go back. And even if you’re not ready to go completely organic, this store has a very helpful staff and plenty of products to help you get your feet wet in the “buy organic, save the world” movement.

—By Sonia Zimmerman

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