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Old 08-17-2009, 01:54 PM
 
27 posts, read 90,855 times
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Moved from Minneapolis to Grand Rapids in February. I think we've mostly gotten our whits about us by now. (a lot of stuff still in boxes, but hey, it's only been 7 months).

We're renting just over the border into Cascade for now while we get the lay of the land. If we stick around (a bit of wanderlust, really), we're going to look for a couple acres a reasonable distance from downtown.

So, what am I missing out on?

I thought I had researched the area fairly well and we made a few visits but there are a few things I wish I had realized and a few I want the hard truth about.

Is it always this muggy? We wanted to escape the weather in Minneapolis, the humidity, and the bugs. The weather isn't as scary, and, honestly, there are fewer mosquitoes and they seem less interested in biting than the ones in Minneapolis... but, my goodness, I'm head to toe sweat whenever I go outside.

Where did the sun go? I've noticed that it tends to be sunnier in the mornings and on the weekdays. I'm guessing nature hates people working. It's no problem for me since I work from home so I can grab the dog and lay out in the yard... my wife is ready to go postal, though.

The Meijer Gardens are awesome. We bought season passes and it's been well worth it.

Downtown is "different". Not in a bad way, mind you, but most of it seems to be hospital. Also, we've been to the orchestra and it's great. But, there's really nothing open in the area after a Sunday matinee show. I'm not looking for a bar scene mind you, but even the restaurants didn't seem to open until 6ish.

The restaurants are good. I certainly wasn't expecting to be wowed on a New York or Chicago (or even Minneapolis) level, but they're solid. I think the Gilmore Collection has some decent places to eat. I'm also at Marie Catrib's at least twice a week. Gaia has been great as well.

Where can I buy organic produce? Honestly, this is the one thing I could really use some help on. It doesn't need to be certified organic and I'd prefer local, small-farm over greenhouse / shipped-in. I've had a heck of a time though. Forest Hills Foods has a good selection. The Cascade Meijer's has some. Harvest Health is severely lacking. (oh, but that one meat place, Hereford Farms?, across the parking lot is can't-miss).

One big lesson learned from the move... while we don't really like to shop and we were looking for a smaller metro, we really should have spent a lot more time thinking about what our day-to-day activities included and compared them against what was available. Rather, we set up criteria for what we wanted and ensured we found a place that met those.... not a bad way to go about it, but it left us with an idealized version of what we thought we wanted and didn't account for our day-to-day realities.

Oh, and it should go without saying, but everyone here is nice.
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Old 08-17-2009, 02:16 PM
 
Location: SW Michigan
111 posts, read 305,215 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by webzter View Post

Where can I buy organic produce? Honestly, this is the one thing I could really use some help on. It doesn't need to be certified organic and I'd prefer local, small-farm over greenhouse / shipped-in. I've had a heck of a time though. Forest Hills Foods has a good selection. The Cascade Meijer's has some. Harvest Health is severely lacking. (oh, but that one meat place, Hereford Farms?, across the parking lot is can't-miss)..
I'm considering a move later on to Grand Rapids and noticed on my visit there that there isn't a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's to be found. This is a drawback because I like buying organics too. Does anyone know of a good place?
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Old 08-17-2009, 03:14 PM
 
Location: West Michigan
161 posts, read 245,519 times
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Where did the sun go? Well if you think it is bad now just wait for winter. I am from VA orginally and have been here a total of 7 years and am still not used to the dreary cloudy conditions that prevail in the winter in Michigan.
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Old 08-17-2009, 03:30 PM
 
Location: SE Michigan
6,191 posts, read 15,851,507 times
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What is this "sun" you speak of? LOL. Actually I'm fine with it in the summer, but like everyone else am thoroughly sick of the drearieness and cold by some time in February. But then spring comes and I love it. Yeah it gets a bit muggy sometimes but it's been a pretty cool-temp summer so far, overall. My trick for getting through winter without leaving the state for sunnier climes is embracing the cold weather and taking lots of snowy hikes! That and a fireplace.

Why pine for Trader Joes and other big corporate chain stores for organic produce, meat, eggs? That's fine if you're in a large dense city I guess, but Michigan has a ton to offer, this is a big farming state. Check local harvest for a start - buy from small farms and local business. I've chipped in on grass fed, free range Piedmont beef (averages $2.00/lb if you buy the entire cow - I shared the cost) and found an independent butcher that sell pasture raised chickens and heritage turkey. I often get eggs from some 4-H kids I know, and there's some excellent farms and farmer's markets around me.
I don't know about farmers' markets around GR but there must be some; I'm in SE MI.
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Old 08-17-2009, 03:51 PM
 
27 posts, read 90,855 times
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Originally Posted by chiroptera View Post
Yeah it gets a bit muggy sometimes but it's been a pretty cool-temp summer so far, overall.
You mean it might be worse next year?

Wait, that doesn't quite get it...

Personally, I don't need Trader Joe's, I just want organic (and it doesn't need to be certified). I'll check out Local Harvest. We were part of a great CSA in Minneapolis and I do need to find one here.
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Old 08-18-2009, 07:24 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,744,725 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by webzter View Post
You mean it might be worse next year?

Wait, that doesn't quite get it...

Personally, I don't need Trader Joe's, I just want organic (and it doesn't need to be certified). I'll check out Local Harvest. We were part of a great CSA in Minneapolis and I do need to find one here.
You might want to try Apple Valley Natural Foods, which has a location in Grand Rapids: Apple Valley Natural Foods - Grand Rapids (http://www.avnf.com/locations/GrandRapids.html - broken link) (call first maybe?) The other I was going to mention was Forest Hills Foods, but it sounds like you already discovered them. The Fulton Street Farmers Market is hopping with vendors on weekends: Welcome to the Fulton Street Farmer's Market

You can actually find "days of sunshine" on city-data's Grand Rapids page (almost halfway down): //www.city-data.com/city/Grand-...-Michigan.html

This summer has been horrible for weather due to La Nina. Lots of cool cloudy/rainy days. Plus, EVERYTHING here is affected by the big lake, unlike MPS and other midwestern "Plain States". There's a reason why West Michigan is one of THE most productive agricultural areas on the planet (lots of moisture). The humidity is pretty standard from July 4th through early September. September is actually one of the best months here. Usually warm (70's) and not as humid.

The downtown is lacking in the retail category. And without viable retail, it's difficult for restaurants to make money on weekends during the day. But you should have seen downtown 10 years ago. It was completely vacant and boarded up (literally boards on windows everywhere) . But actually, I think some of the best restaurants are in Uptown, EGR and Easttown (Green Well, Winchester, Marie Catrib's, Wolfgang's, Mangiamo, Rose's, etc.).

Welcome to GR!
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Old 08-18-2009, 09:51 AM
 
27 posts, read 90,855 times
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Originally Posted by magellan View Post
You might want to try Apple Valley Natural Foods, which has a location in Grand Rapids: Apple Valley Natural Foods - Grand Rapids (http://www.avnf.com/locations/GrandRapids.html - broken link) (call first maybe?) The other I was going to mention was Forest Hills Foods, but it sounds like you already discovered them. The Fulton Street Farmers Market is hopping with vendors on weekends: Welcome to the Fulton Street Farmer's Market

You can actually find "days of sunshine" on city-data's Grand Rapids page (almost halfway down): //www.city-data.com/city/Grand-...-Michigan.html

This summer has been horrible for weather due to La Nina. Lots of cool cloudy/rainy days. Plus, EVERYTHING here is affected by the big lake, unlike MPS and other midwestern "Plain States". There's a reason why West Michigan is one of THE most productive agricultural areas on the planet (lots of moisture). The humidity is pretty standard from July 4th through early September. September is actually one of the best months here. Usually warm (70's) and not as humid.

The downtown is lacking in the retail category. And without viable retail, it's difficult for restaurants to make money on weekends during the day. But you should have seen downtown 10 years ago. It was completely vacant and boarded up (literally boards on windows everywhere) . But actually, I think some of the best restaurants are in Uptown, EGR and Easttown (Green Well, Winchester, Marie Catrib's, Wolfgang's, Mangiamo, Rose's, etc.).

Welcome to GR!
Thanks! My wife has been to the farmers market and I'll make sure to put it on the list for this weekend. I still need to check out Wolfgang's and Green Well. Going to Marie's yet again for lunch today and then we'll walk a bit of the heritage hill area.

Regarding downtown, it does seem to have come a long way on the revitalization front. To be honest, I was a little leery about moving to Amway country, but only based on the little I've run into some of the sellers. After being here though, I see that the moneyed families seem to have really gone far above and beyond in pouring back into the area.

I should mention that my wife is from Lansing and I'm from Marquette. I'm very well-versed in what a lake can do to the weather . Still, looking at a graph and living it are very different.

Thanks again!
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Old 08-18-2009, 01:05 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,744,725 times
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Originally Posted by webzter View Post
Thanks! My wife has been to the farmers market and I'll make sure to put it on the list for this weekend. I still need to check out Wolfgang's and Green Well. Going to Marie's yet again for lunch today and then we'll walk a bit of the heritage hill area.

Regarding downtown, it does seem to have come a long way on the revitalization front. To be honest, I was a little leery about moving to Amway country, but only based on the little I've run into some of the sellers. After being here though, I see that the moneyed families seem to have really gone far above and beyond in pouring back into the area.

I should mention that my wife is from Lansing and I'm from Marquette. I'm very well-versed in what a lake can do to the weather . Still, looking at a graph and living it are very different.

Thanks again!
No problem. Be sure to check out Winchester on Wealthy for lunch. Their food is excellent, and the atmosphere is great (and owned by someone I know )

http://www.grnow.com/index.php?optio...temid=99999999
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Old 08-18-2009, 02:08 PM
 
Location: East Grand Rapids, MI
845 posts, read 3,018,657 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by analog_kid86 View Post
I'm considering a move later on to Grand Rapids and noticed on my visit there that there isn't a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's to be found. This is a drawback because I like buying organics too. Does anyone know of a good place?
I think the best selection of organics is probably at Cascade Meijer.
You might also try "Harvest Health Foods" (several locations in metro-GR)
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Old 08-18-2009, 02:29 PM
 
27 posts, read 90,855 times
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Originally Posted by suydam View Post
I think the best selection of organics is probably at Cascade Meijer.
You might also try "Harvest Health Foods" (several locations in metro-GR)
I've heard that the Meijer in Standale is good for produce. I agree the Cascade Meijer is decent.. and the prices are good if you stick to the Meijer brand stuff. Forest Hills Foods is really good for produce but they are expensive.

Harvest Health is really great for everything except produce.

Russo's, in addition to being a simply amazing little market, has a good selection.

The little grocer in Ada seems to have an ok selection but they have a tiny produce section and I haven't really price-shopped them.

I'm going to head to the Fulton farmer's market and scope out what is both certified organic and at least stated organic.
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