By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Aug 29, 2002 at 5:58 AM

More than a place to score tofu and incense, today's natural food store offers delicious edibles and unique products that appeal to vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Milwaukee is fortunate to have three natural food stores: The Outpost, Beans and Barley and the Riverwest Co-op (photographed).

"Beans" is privately owned by four people, whereas The Outpost and the Riverwest Co-op are cooperatively owned. You don't have to be an owner to shop or eat at a co-op, but those who are enjoy a plethora of perks.

So what exactly is a co-op? According to Lisa Malmarowski, Marketing Manger at Outpost, "It's a type of business that's owned by the people who use its services."

Natural food stores offer goods and services that are not available in conventional grocery stores, including products that are locally grown or raised.

Most people still shop at their favorite chain supermarket, but supplement their usual groceries with special items from natural food stores. Shopping in a natural foods store is a little more expensive, but you're worth it, right?

Milwaukee's natural food stores:

Outpost Natural Foods
100 E. Capitol Dr.
(414) 961-2597

7000 W. State St
(414) 778-2012
Open every day from 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

In 1970, a group of people who felt that there weren't any options for healthy, whole foods opened the East Kane Street Co-op.

Over the next decade, the co-op moved multiple times -- to Locust Street, Holton Street and finally to the current-location on Capitol Drive. Somewhere along the way, the name changed to Outpost Natural Foods. According to Malmarowski, this was because, "The new name stood for healthy food choices in a wasteland of unhealthy food choices. It was the '70s, and there was a lot of idealism."

Today, there are two Outpost locations: one on the East Side, which is the largest food co-op in southeastern Wisconsin, and one in Wauwatosa, which opened in March 2000. Both are full-service grocery stores featuring fresh foods, bulk foods, organic fruits and vegetables, hot and cold deli items, meat (naturally raised without the aid of antibiotics or growth hormones), plants, gifts, oils, vitamins and upscale beer and wine.


Look for changes at the Capitol Drive location in the next year, including a new facade, a fresh seafood case and an expanded cafe.

Ownership costs $25 a year, and owners receive discounts, rebates, The Outpost Exchange mailed directly to their home, Owner Appreciation Days and more!

Beans and Barley
1901 E. North Ave.
(414) 278-7878
Open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday, 9 a.m-8 p.m.

Celebrating 30 years of service, this restaurant and food store nearly burned to the ground in the summer of 1993, but made a tremendous comeback just a year later. The new cafe is almost twice as large and serves breakfasts, lunches and dinners seven days a week. The menu offers healthy, homemade food including vegetarian, vegan and non-vegetarian (some dishes are made with fish or poultry). Beer and wine is also available.

The food and gift store, adjacent to the restaurant, features a full-line of groceries, greeting cards, gifts, organic vegetables, award-wining deli items, essential oils, vitamins, Alterra coffee and more. "We're a healthy alternative with a lot of variety," says Patricia Garrigan, one of the four owners, who has worked at Beans for 27 years.

Riverwest Co-op
733 E. Clarke St.
(414) 264-7933
Open everyday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Riverwesterners wanted a natural and organic foods store within walking distance, so a motivated group got together, shared ideas, pooled resources and opened The Riverwest Co-op in November 2001.

The volunteer-run co-op offers an array of packaged and canned goods, organic produce, soy products, juice, soap, candles and more. Board members are currently working to install industrial-grade sinks and hope to obtain more space for a kitchen. Other plans for the future include offering bulk food at low-or-no mark-up and nutrition seminars for kids and adults.

Ownership costs $20, with lifetime ownership after you pay $100. "The Riverwest Co-op is about 'Food for people, not for profit,' which makes it easier for me to feed my family better quality food, without breaking my budget," says co-op volunteer Becky Hollman.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.