The Venice Whole Foods is a carnival of wonder and magic, or at least I like to think so. They have a wine-tasting bar, a salad bar with tons of vegan options, vegan pizza, vegan chocolate truffles, grind-your-own coffee, cool cosmetics, daiya cheese, and more. Sometimes, I will invent something that I “need” from the store just to have an excuse to wander the aisles. Currently, my favorite part of my favorite grocery store is the bulk foods section. There are containers upon containers of dried fruits, nuts, flour, and grains. I love being able to sample a little or something, or to get just what I need for a recipe. It’s much cheaper when cooking for one, and less food goes to waste. I hate having to throw out food because it spoiled while waiting for me to cook with it.

The flour selection in the bulk foods aisle is a baker’s wet dream. I can buy just enough of a new flour for a recipe and get to experiment without committing to an entire bag of something that might not work out. Also, since I transfer my dry goods into jars as soon as I get them home anyway, I’m saving money, trees, and landfill space by buying these things in a little plastic bag instead of some elaborate packaging. Whole Foods is nice enough to provide twist-tie labels and pens, and I love any excuse to use my Catholic-school handwriting. So far I have tried whole wheat pastry flour and white spelt flour. I’m looking forward to trying the blue corn flour and making blue corn pancakes, or maybe even my own tortillas. I also love being able to buy just enough nuts for a recipe, like when I made my almond crumble for blueberry muffins. I don’t really eat nuts on their own, so it’s good to just get what I need right at that moment.
There is one more really amazing thing about the bulk foods aisle, and that is the fact that you can press your own peanut butter! Yes, that’s right, 100% natural peanut butter that you grind yourself. The ingredient list is simple: peanuts, and it’s really fresh and delicious. I personally went for the chocolate peanut butter machine, and enjoyed it spread on rice cakes for a week.