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Earlier this month, I blogged about wondrously cheap and fresh produce at Berkeley Bowl off Shattuck.  The Los Angeles Times wrote an article on Sept. 22 about the very same Berkeley Bowl, but painted a rather darker picture of the store as a realm of violent and ruthless shoppers bent on getting their produce, and of soup-Nazi-esque strictness that punishes sampling with a lifetime ban from the premises.

Juvenile delinquents at Berkeley Bowl just seconds before being forcibly ejected from the premises by an armed enforcement officer for sampling fruit.

Juvenile delinquents at Berkeley Bowl just moments before being forcibly ejected from the premises by an armed enforcement officer for sampling nectarines.

I had to laugh at their title, though: “At Berkeley Bowl, the nuts are off the shelf”.

L.A. traffic.  Who are the real nuts?

L.A. traffic. Who are the real nuts?

I went to Berkeley Bowl off Shattuck for the first time yesterday and left wondering where it had been all my life.  Berkeley Bowl is a local, non-chain store version of Whole Foods, that carries fresh local produce at eye-poppingly low prices.

How much would you pay at your local supermarket for this collection of vegetables?  (Hold on to your eyeballs.)

broccoli, roma tomatoes, celery, baby carrots, red potatoes, sprouts

Clockwise, from top: broccoli, roma tomatoes, celery, baby carrots, red potatoes, sprouts.

Here’s how much you can expect to pay at Berkeley Bowl:

  • Baby carrots: $0.89
  • Sprouts: $1.15
  • Roma tomatoes: $0.50
  • Red potatoes: $0.64
  • Bunched broccoli: $1.08
  • Celery: $0.59
  • Credit for bringing my own bag: -$0.05
  • Total: $4.80

I thought that the cashier had made a mistake at first and forgotten to swipe half of my produce through the register.  I wouldn’t have even been able to pay for my purchase if I used debit card because it was under the $5.00 minimum charge.  Wowza.

I’ve spoken to a few veteran shoppers and they agree that you’re better off buying non-produce at Trader Joe’s or another supermarket, but that you can’t beat Berkeley Bowl for its selection and prices of fruits and veggies.

Here’s the info, in case you want to make a visit to see for yourself:

Berkeley Bowl

2020 Oregon Street

Berkeley, CA 94703

www.berkeleybowl.com