Despite its small size, I think Outpost Natural Foods has the best selection of local products available for sale in the Milwaukee area. I went there today in search of the 2013 Wisconsin Local Foods Journal, and found it in the center of the store near the checkouts (at the Wauwatosa location).
I bought this year's edition and really like using it for meal planning. 2013 is the "restaurant and chef" edition, and paging through it today, I like it even more than last year's. There's a great map and list in the back of the book of restaurants in Wisconsin that have a commitment to local, seasonal and/or sustainability-minded fare.
While at Outpost, I always stock up on items sold in bulk because they have a huge selection of standard bulk bins items such as grains and nuts, but they also have a massive herb and spice selection. Purchasing in bulk is great because it allows you to select exactly how much you'd like and there's no wasteful packaging.
Each Saturday I'm tempted to visit Becky's Blissful Bakery in Pewaukee when I see the types of caramels being sampled in my Facebook news feed. Her sangria and margarita caramels have me especially curious.
Someday I'll get over there, but in the meantime I was happy to see this large display of Becky's caramels at Outpost because it allowed me to select a few different types for Chris and I to sample. I love my grandma's caramels, so I hate to say this, but Becky's are better.
Not surprisingly, in America's Dairyland, it's fairly easy to find locally made milk, eggs and ice cream. Today I picked up Purple Door ice cream, Yuppie Hill Poultry eggs, and Sassy Cow Creamery milk.
From the bulk bins, I selected curry lentil soup, farro and two different types of pasta made in Chicago. One bulk bin tip - if you're trying something new or buying grains that look similar, write the name on the tag as well as the bin number.
Also if there are preparation instructions, use your phone to take a photo of the bin. That's what I did for the dried curry lentil soup mix I purchased today, so I could remember the ratio of soup mix to water and how long to cook it for.
I bought a few individual caramels but I also bought a box because I was pretty certain I would like cashew caramels and I was right. I'm always on the lookout for hostess gifts and I think these boxes of caramels would be perfect!
Outpost Natural Foods has three locations in the Milwaukee area - Capitol Drive near Shorewood, Bay View and Wauwatosa. It's $25/year to be a member of the co-op, although membership is not required to shop there, and you're a full member with no further payment due once you've paid-in $200.