Don’t let the outside of Buford Highway Farmer’s Market fool you. I have avoided this place for the longest time because it’s a little tricky to get into and the parking lot, on weekends, always looks like a crazy mess. The building is older and I was just shy of the place. But a coworker of mine, Veronica, told me she does all her meat shopping there, and that it was inexpensive. I had nothing to lose, so I stopped by there today.

It was surprisingly neat and clean. The classic farmer’s market in town is a little cramped, with produce fighting for space with other produce, with boxes stacked here and there. Not here. Except for the older floors, the cleanliness approached a suburban supermarket. Produce was cheap and cleanly labeled. Aisles were not cramped, they were spacious and wide.

In the produce section, I bought some garlic, some beautiful red cherry peppers (triangular shaped though), a couple peppers called a long hot pepper, some green onions, and some tomatillos, so perhaps we can try Innocent Primate’s salsa verde sometime.

Tomatillos, cheery peppers, long hot peppers and other produce from Buford Highway.

Tomatillos, cherry peppers, long hot peppers and other produce from Buford Highway.

In the back there was a bakery (with freshly wrapped stacks of tortillas) and a butcher shop. Prices were lower than the equivalent supermarket items. There were a lot more organ meats than you would find in a typical store – beef hearts and pork hearts, pigs feet and other organ meats. There were fish swimming in tanks, ready to be sold (or filleted). Fish already packaged was clearly labeled with the place it came from. But I wasn’t here for fish, for the most part. I was looking at legumes and grains.

This is an international market, and in this instance, the origin of the groceries was divided on an aisle by aisle basis and clearly labeled. I’ll note that you can get red lentils in the Hispanic aisle, along with various sizes of green lentils. In the American aisle, there were at least four different brands of beans. And unlike Publix, the N. K. Hurst products here (we have spoken of N. K. Hurst before) are competitively priced with all the other vendors.

Most interesting to me was the Indian foods aisle. This is the closest place I’ve found for bulk Indian dals and bulk Indian spices (most supplied by a Houston company, Spicy World of USA, Inc). In this section they have standard green lentils, brown lentils (masoor dal whole), and black lentils (urad or urid dals). Others dals include moong dals (mung bean based), chana dals (chick peas), kala chana (black chickpeas), and mahdi toor dals. They have garam masala in bulk, along with a variety of other spices. They have a version of sambar powder, which if I recall correctly was prized back in my school days for cooking vegetables.

Buford Highway Farmer's Market on Urbanspoon

After shopping here, I headed north up the street to a placed called the White Windmill Bakery and Cafe. I had been wanting to stop there because the place just looks fantastic from the outside. So I managed to pull over this time and took a peek inside. It’s a Korean bakery, by Koreans and largely for Koreans.  The store has a counter with sweets, rows of breads, and several tables to sit. In terms of foods, I saw fancy coffee and tea,  quality chocolates, exquisite tarts (but around $5.00 each), beautiful small cakes. My wife likes bean curd sweets, so I found a red bean curd bun for my wife and then got a cream bun for my daughter. I’ll have to tell you later what they thought of them.

White Windmill Bakery and Cafe on Urbanspoon

I was at home, working, when my wife called and said, “There is a new organic market in town. Why don’t you check it out? They may have those grains you’ve been wanting.”  She told me where it was, more or less, and gave me the name.  I did a web search and found it quickly: Mother Nature’s Market in Snellville.

This is an established market that has moved from a location in Tucker, Georgia to a location along Highway 78.  For me that’s a huge difference in terms of time, as it takes roughly half an hour to get down to Tucker.  I called, to find out if they had the red lentils I wanted.  The young man who answered took a look and said, “Yes, we have them, red split lentils.”  That pretty much clinched the deal.

The market is located about 2 blocks east of the Oak Road-US 78 Intersection, about one block east of the Wisteria-US 78 Intersection. It’s in a strip mall on the left (north side of the road), as you’re traveling east on US 78, and it’s roughly opposite South Gwinnett High School. It has a large sign on the outside. If traffic is good, it should be pretty easy to spot.

Mother Nature's Market is a neat, clean store on Highway 78, just opposite South Gwinnett High School in Snellville.

Mother Nature's Market is a neat, clean store on Highway 78, just opposite South Gwinnett High School in Snellville.

Inside, the store is well organized, neat, clean, with a lot of free space.  They have a terrific array of supplements, as well as a large array of spices.  A good portion of what they sell is outside of my interests, as I’m not much for supplements more complicated than a children’s chewable. In some cases the prices are just surprising.  As an example, a relatively small bottle of organic maple syrup costs in excess of $30.00.

On the other side of the cost spectrum are the whole grains, peas, beans, and lentils.  I found just about anything I could have wanted, short of amaranth, and the store was particularly rich in whole grains, such as whole wheats, hulled barley, oat groats, etc. I judged the prices to be competitive with any supermarket, most less than $2.00/lb. Bulk pearled barley differed from the Publix price by just pennies a pound, and no grain I judged terribly expensive.  Now the bulk quinoa was $4.55/lb.  Given kind and type (they had red quinoa as well as traditional), this may be a moderately high price or a great price.  I haven’t done enough comparison shopping to tell you just yet. However, for many of these bulk grain items, the only other source I know is Return To Eden, and as far as Return To Eden is, you could make up in gas savings what you lose in immediate expense.

I asked about vanilla “Better Than Milk”, a dry soy milk product my wife uses, and which they didn’t have. But they said they would be happy to special order anything we wanted.  I thought that was more than fair.

Now the hours are not terribly commuter friendly, as they are open Monday through Friday 10am to 7pm, but they have Saturday hours, 9:30am to 6pm.  The Saturday times and extreme closeness make this store accessible to working families.

Even if you’re a die-hard Kroger and Publix shopper, drop by this place sometime. You won’t regret it.