Community

The 20 Beloved Indie Grocers We're Browsing Online

They're ready for you.

by:
March 31, 2020
Photo by James Ransom

Now more than ever, home is where many of us are seeking refuge and solace in light of the novel coronavirus. This is a tough time, but we’re here for you—whether it’s a new pantry recipe or a useful tip for your kitchen, here are some ideas to make things run a little more smoothly for you and your loved ones.


I was manning the Hotline early last week, when Hallie from D.C. wrote in: “What independent online grocers (not Whole Foods, Stop & Shop) can I buy from during the quarantine?” Pfft, easy, I thought.

Nothing is as hard (or as heartbreaking) as explaining to a community member that their roux is unsalvageable (Kelly, wherever you are out there, I’m sorry I got to you too late!). But as I began to shop for groceries myself on the World Wide Web, I realized that this was, actually, a very good question.

How are we supposed to seek out safe and reliable (and affordable) food, amid COVID-19, while also making sure our dollars are going toward small, ethical, good businesses? It’s challenging, near impossible, to feel certain around our consumption choices when things around us are less so.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“My usual source for organic nuts and dried fruits is Thrive Market, which is so backed up that they aren't even accepting orders now. Tierra Farm has a terrific selection, including items in bulk that I haven't been able to locate anywhere else. Prices on half the products I just ordered were cheaper than those at Thrive Market and Amazon. Add free shipping for orders of $99, and they have a very happy new customer. I hope Food52 got a commission for this super referral.”
— Medora V.
Comment

While few and far between, they do exist and are ready to fuel your spike in at-home cooking. Here are over 20 wonderful online food vendors to support, without leaving your home—from convenient one-stop shops, to stellar specialty purveyors, to some newly-online farms across the country.


20+ Very Good Online Independent Grocers

One-Stop Shops

1. Zingerman’s

Community member Nancy jumped into said hotline Q with this hot tip: Zingerman’s. Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., they carry everything from n'duja to crusty miche to Early Bird granola in their online store.

2. Kalustyan’s

If you can dream it, Kalustyan’s has it. Beloved by N.Y.C.-based budding home cooks and chefs alike, this labyrinth of all-things-food can also be navigated from the comfort of your own couch. I have fresh Makrut leaves (for popcorn zab-zab), curing salt (for salami-making), and bath salts (for tubbing) in my cart right now.

3. Sahadi’s

Similar to Kalustyan’s, Sahadi’s offers an incredible variety of spices, bulk items, and specialty goods—most under an in-house line, but not all. While testing recipes for Julia’s forthcoming (!) non-alcoholic cocktail book, I relied heavily on Sahadi’s (dukkah, smoked chili bitters, and pearled barley, all in one trip? Check, check, and check.)

4. Eataly

I am known at the World Trade Center Eataly for being that girl who touches every fruit (back when we could touch fruit), and still asks to see what’s in the back (sorry, Maria, hi, Maria!). I tapped a similarly picky shopper, our food stylist Anna, for her love letter to Eataly: “When sourcing beautiful photo-ready produce and the farmers’ market is out or out of season, my next go-to is Eataly. Besides being the kindest and most accommodating produce department (believe me there are a lot of picky questions I ask), knowing I can request things from them online, and peruse some really special pastas or cheeses—simply to brighten my day at home—is a total game changer.”

5. The Rice Factory

I gasped aloud when our co-founder Merrill forwarded along this site, which offers anything and everything Japanese pantry you could ever want. Find everything from regional rice varieties (crop tip: with each crop, you have to adjust the amount of water you’re using, so listen to your rice!), to curry roux, to a special plate for microwaving your mochi (yes).

Spices

A community member asked a very good question via our new text hotline about her spice cabinet. Namely, what should be in it.

"With turmeric, cumin seeds, chili powder, brown mustard seeds, and coriander seeds, you have everything you need to brine, marinade, pickle, braise, saute," Chef and SpiceWalla founder Meherwan Irani advised in an email. Indeed, good salt (kosher and flaky) and black peppercorns are just the tip of the spice-berg.

6. SpiceWalla

SpiceWalla offers spices in three-ounce tins to 50-pound bags (for those of us taking "hunkering down" very seriously).

Irani again, on some tips on long-term spice storage: "I buy spices whole, keep away from sunlight and heat (that's why Spicewalla spices come in tins) and roast lightly before grinding. Whole spices (like whole coffee) maintain their flavor and pungency longer. And most importantly, I replace old spices within six months or so. Spices are about adding incredible flavor, so why use spices that have lost their flavor? A tiny tin that costs five dollars that lasts six months is a deal! Stop hoarding old and stale spices and get yourself some fresh flavor on the reg."

7. Burlap & Barrel

In case you need even more spice in your life, B&B connects small farmers with the high-value spice market to deliver (lucky) us beautifully fragrant and sustainably-sourced (considering both the environmental and social impact) spices.

Dried Pantry Goods/Bulk Items

8. Maine Grains

This Skowhegan-based, small and mighty team is ready to fuel your ambitious baking projects. Experiment with heritage flours (from Sirvanta to Red Fife) and whole grains (from Black Nile barley to rye berries, while stocking up on other pantry staples (speckled beans, basic flours, even sourdough starter).

9. Janie’s Mill

This mill, based in Ashkum, also boasts an impressive array of certified-organic grains and flours for every project: from pizza to bread, to tender cakes and flaky pies.

10. Rancho Gordo

While we're on the topic of speckled beans—if you haven't tried Steve Sando’s culty beans just yet, now's the time. And if you absolutely can't decide on one, wait for the RG bean club to reopen.

11. MOKA Origins

I’ve now relied on MOKA to support my five-pound-bag of light roast a month habit for the past two years. Not only do the beans arrive straight from the roaster, but they’re harvested and distributed in a way that’s environmentally sustainable and directly beneficial to their farmers.

12. Tierra Farms

If bulk dried fruits, nuts, nut butters, and granola make up a significant portion of your diet, turn to no other than this certified-organic vendor.

Non-essential essentials

So, while tins of seafood, dried meats, or bottles of olives may not be totally necessary pantry grabs, I’ve never regretted grabbing any of the above while uninspired at the grocery store. These tins of umami make pantry recipes taste more exciting than, well, your pantry. (Also, what can’t you make with a tin of fish?)

13. Portugalia Marketplace

This importer has an incredible array of tinned fish, olives, capers, tomato pastes, you name it. Steam frozen or fridge-wilted vegetables, and serve them alongside a cracked tin of sardines and some garlicky aioli for a very grand-feeling work-from-home lunch.

14. Ends Meat

Order their three-pound hunk of pancetta for a year’s worth of Daddy’s Pasta (before I grab it myself!).

15. Olympia Provisions

Their mortadella is somehow not solid, nor liquid, but someplace in between, and will take a few bites to wrap your head around what suspension sorcery it contains.

16. Mother-in-Law’s Kimchi

I’m definitely not the first to say or believe this, but kimchi is an absolute workhorse in my kitchen. It adds a quick jolt to anything: fried rice, congee, a breakfast taco. Buying six bottles of kimchi at a time is a commitment, I realize, but you’ll move through them much faster than you expect.

17. Sqirl

Chef of the beloved all-day-cafe Jessica Koslow posted a video recently expressing the struggles she, along with many others in the service industry, are facing. Here’s one small way we can help small businesses, while still maintaining social distance: stocking up on dreamy jams and groovy tie-dye shirts.

18. Gotham Grove

If you, like me, are using quarantine to delve into the wonderful, bubbly world of Korean tofu stews, GG has you covered—I’ve got my eye on that three-year-old doenjang.

Fresh Food, Online?

19. Natoora

Sorry to tempt, non-N.Y.C. and -London-based folk, but restaurant vendor Natoora—the ever-bounteous source of stunning produce beloved by chefs—has recently opened their ordering and delivery services to non-restaurant accounts.

20. Go straight to the source.

If, pre-quarantine, you used to rely on local farm/ers for your produce, meats, and dairy, you might still be able to. Many farms offer their goods direct-to-consumers, by way of online ordering or through membership-based CSAs (community based agriculture). Essex Farm CSA is delivering their grass-fed meats, pantry goods, and organic produce to members’ doors (in N.Y.C., the Capital Region, and Tri-Lakes Region) weekly.

If you’re not in N.Y.C., head to Food52 alum Kristy Mucci’s working list of CSAs, organized by state. These are farms no longer able to sell to restaurants or grocers, and have now pivoted to selling directly to consumers online.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, but Food52 sometimes earns an affiliate commission on the sales of products we link to. These products are independently selected by our editors and writers, and are only featured when we genuinely love them and want to share them.

What cooking projects are you embarking on right now, and what are you eyeing in the above shops? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Join the Conversation

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • SophieL
    SophieL
  • Lazyretirementgirl
    Lazyretirementgirl
  • Donamaya
    Donamaya
  • Medora Van Denburgh
    Medora Van Denburgh
  • Beth Gore
    Beth Gore
Comment
Coral Lee is an Associate Editor at Food52. Before this, she cooked food solely for photos. Before that, she cooked food solely for customers. And before that, she shot lasers at frescoes in Herculaneum and taught yoga. When she's not writing about or making food, she's thinking about it. Her Heritage Radio Network show, "Meant to be Eaten," explores cross-cultural exchange as afforded by food. You can follow her on Instagram @meanttobeeaten.

14 Comments

SophieL April 25, 2020
I've been very pleased with the pecans and other nuts from Sunnyland Farms in GA. Check them out at sunnylandfarms.com
 
Lazyretirementgirl April 12, 2020
Anson Mills in South Carolina has a grand assortment of grains, fresh ground specialty flours. They shipped my order promptly, so I have plenty of unpearled roasted farro and 00flour. A similar experience with our friends at nuts.com - plenty of inventory and prompt shipping. Also, D’Artagnan for specialty meats - if you subscribe to their emails and combine a sale ( those are frequent) with a planned in advance shipping schedule, the price is still steep, but not crazy. And their quality- I have mostly gotten veal and cured pork products- is outstanding.
 
Donamaya April 12, 2020
KALUSTYAN’S has just REOPENED its website as of today April 12.
Thank you for the support!
 
Medora V. April 12, 2020
Thank you! My usual source for organic nuts and dried fruits is Thrive Market, which is so backed up that they aren't even accepting orders now. Tierra Farm has a terrific selection, including items in bulk that I haven't been able to locate anywhere else. Prices on half the products I just ordered were cheaper than those at Thrive Market and Amazon. Add free shipping for orders of $99, and they have a very happy new customer. I hope Food52 got a commission for this super referral.
 
Beth G. April 12, 2020
You must check out Leopard Forest Coffee (www.leopardforestcoffee.com) in Travelers Rest, SC. I live in the South, so I like to patronize businesses in the South. Leopard Forest sources their coffee from sustainable farms with ethical business practices. Plus, I can get a better deal than the Starbucks in my local grocery.
 
Ruth April 12, 2020
I would add Penzeys for spices. (www.penzeys.com) They're processing orders again starting April 13.

With regard to CSAs, if you're in NYC, one good place to look for CSAs is this map. It's not perfect, but it's pretty comprehensive: https://www.justfood.org/value-chain-map

Most CSAs are signing up new members now!
 
SophieL April 25, 2020
Love Penzeys spices!
 
Jodi S. April 1, 2020
www.PimentoWood.com Is a great source for getting the authentic products to make jerk chicken and other Caribbean cuisine.
 
Esvee March 31, 2020
Thanks for this list! Wanted to give a couple updates though. Kalustyan’s has closed their online shop due to too much demand, and Sahadi’s is no longer shipping outside of NYC.
 
Johonna C. April 13, 2020
Re-opened April 12!
 
Donamaya April 25, 2020
And the Kalustyan’s shop is now open 10-6 for those on the NYC area
 
Herself March 31, 2020
And then there’s LaBoite; I discovered them in the shop here at Food52. Several of their blends are my MustHaves.
Laboiteny.com
 
Katie B. March 31, 2020
Zingerman's is an absolutely wonderful family of businesses and important part of our community in Ann Arbor. Not only did they found our local food bank, but they have been working hard to figure out how to keep their employees working and are offering free meals to health care workers right now. Please lend them your support so they can keep doing their great work! I've also been shipping Zingermans treats to friends who are manning the front lines or anyone who might need a social distancing pick-me-up.
 
Stephanie G. March 31, 2020
Thank you, very helpful. However, Rancho Gordo is mostly out of beans and the next available shipment dates are in May.