One of the things that first attracted me to Athens was the “hipster” vibes from the shops and restaurants in this area. It isn’t the most recent incarnation of hipster, the one that includes juice cleanses, clean white rooms with clean minimalistic features, and pastels everywhere, but the more hippie vibe of the past. It’s not a phase here, it’s a lifestyle. The locals who are involved in the small business community are dedicated to making things here and supporting each other.
One amazing business is The Farmacy, a natural and organic grocer on Stimson Avenue. A short walk from campus, The Farmacy has everything from vitamins and supplements to bulk foods, to smoothies. According to their website “The Farmacy was officially established in 1971 in Athens, OH, as a small sundry store and a place to buy then hard-to-find items like brown rice, old-fashioned rolled oats, dried fruit, and nuts. We opened our doors in the infancy of what is now a billion-dollar-a-year industry led by corporate natural food supermarkets like Whole Foods.”
Upon walking into The Farmacy, the small aisles and rainbow of smells give off the vibe of a home-grown Whole Foods, but better. They have three distinct sections; the Deli, tucked in the side, the bulk and grocery section that takes up much of the store, and the small but well-stocked supplement aisle towards the register.
My companion and I were enthusiastic to try a little bit of everything. Seeing as we live in a sorority house though, we didn’t have a practical use for the bulk items.
That being said, I couldn’t help but dream and plan for when I eventually do have a home and a kitchen of my own in Athens! They have coffee, tea, spices, flours and even honey in bulk, and at a reasonable rate for the things people use the most.
Instead of buying from the bulk items, we looked for the most interesting things from the deli and from the organic and local products and decided to review the best things we could find. It was hard to stay practical in a place with so many types of foods and drinks, so we just crossed our fingers and went with it.
Obviously, there were plenty of these to find in an organic grocery store, but I was happily surprised by the lack of items that were not locally made; I put the three items that were not from the area or Ohio in this section to separate them from the local and in-house items.
Blue Sky Ginger Ale
Made with cane sugar, ginger, and water, it’s one of the most simple sodas I’ve ever had. It’s super hard for me to pass up a good ginger ale, and at $0.99, it was cheap enough to grab in passing. Plus, the packaging was super cute, and the can is sturdier than a normal soda can, so it can be used for a DIY pot for a succulent or a desk organizer if you’re feeling crafty!
Good Health Rosemary Olive Oil Potato Chips
I’m super picky when it comes to chips, so finding a “healthy” potato chips was exciting but also a little risky. These were so good, I’m actually afraid they may become an addiction. They’re fairly low calorie for potato chips, but be careful, they can easily be eaten in one sitting.
Teaonic Herbal Supplement
My friend grabbed this and set it on our stack, because “It’s a pun!” and “You seem stressed.”, so thank you to her. Honestly, this one doesn’t taste like much and recommends daily use in order to work effectively, but call it the placebo effect or call it magic, I honestly felt a little more energized after drinking this little tonic. It’s pricey for what it is, but it’s better than a Five Hour Energy if you’re planning for an all-nighter or prepping for a busy week.
My definition of “local” was southern Ohio as a whole (including Cincinnati).
Can you believe that in the two years I’ve lived in Athens, I still haven’t tried a pawpaw? That changed today. They are produced in Albany, Ohio, and are better versions of the push up pops everyone had as kids. I was surprised at its sourness, but it was a great first time trying a pawpaw product and I would buy it again in a heartbeat.
Laurel Valley Cheese Curds
Honestly, this was the best purchase of the day. Cheese curds are amazing and these were so fresh and delicious. Add these to the potato chips and you could make a broke college student version of poutine! But in all honesty, despite the high price ($6.50 for the container), these are worth a try.
Skinny Pig Kombucha – Lavender
I’m always down for floral flavors in my drinks, and so this kombucha caught my eye immediately. It’s made in Cinci, so it’s a little far for local, but it’s Ohio made and that makes my little Ohioan heart happy. It’s a little sugary for kombucha, so I would recommend it to people who are trying it for the first time
Farmacy Magic Bars
The deli serves a variety of baked goods, and this was the one that caught our eye first. Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you what it is made of, but it for sure has chocolate, coconut, and cashews, but it doesn’t taste like any of those ingredients in particular. It is worth the trip just to try that!