Those of you who read this blog know that there is more to New Jersey than Newark Airport, Tony Soprano, The Real Housewives and Snooki. New Jersey aka “The Garden State” is a veritable agricultural playground filled with many vibrant farming communities and boasts some of the largest fishing ports on the Eastern seaboard. But I have to say when I returned home to my native Cape May County nearly ten years ago from my adopted hometown of New York City, I didn’t think the area had anything to offer in terms of people who really cared about “good food”. I know now there have always been small communities and handfuls of individuals that shared my same culinary ideals with an emphasis on fresh and seasonal cuisine.
However, during those first months after I returned home, one of my biggest frustrations was the lack of access to specialty ingredients that I had grown accustomed to having at my fingertips in New York City. I quickly remembered that there was a Whole Foods Market in Marlton and began talking monthly trips up there to stock up on various staples. Nowadays, thanks to the bustling farmers markets, independently owned health food stores, CSAs, and access to organically raised meat, those trips are becoming few and far in between.
Enter the Cape May Organic Market. Quietly situated right next door to Cape May Linen in West Cape May, this new outpost has sealed the deal for me; there is now not a single reason to go to Marlton for groceries. There are other reasons (can you say Pottery Barn), but not for food. The market is owned by Tai Menz, Executive Chef of Aleathea’s in Cape May and member of the family that owns the legendary Inn at Cape May. Like many people in the area, Tai saw a need for a small specialty market that would bring to the locals and vacationers alike all that they needed to fulfill the desire for healthy, organic, and local food without having to leave the island.
The day that I dropped by Cape May Organic Tai was busy checking in new merchandise as well as meeting with a new product vendor. He’s at the market pretty much every day before heading into the restaurant; he hopes to ultimately divide his time more evenly between the restaurant and the store. He has a committed part-time staff working at the market, including Sadie Rementer – who, incidentally, used to own a flooring and wallpaper business in this same space. When I asked her how it felt now working for someone else in the same space, she couldn’t have been more gracious. She is excited to be at Cape May Organic and clearly shares Tai’s vision in providing the best quality food possible to the residents of Cape May and beyond. Employee Suzanne Logeman, who I met when I returned the very next day to pick up some local eggs and honey, equally matched Sadie’s enthusiasm.
Cape May Organic is bringing in more and more new products on a daily basis. They pride themselves with having a strong local following that will tell Tai exactly what they would like to see in his store – and he will oblige them, readily taking customer requests. During any given day you will find: fresh organic produce from Jah’s Creation in Egg Harbor Township or Cape May Court House’s Hazlett Farm, baked goods and local honey from Rea’s Farm, fresh eggs from local farmer David Rutherford, organically pastured meat from Simply Grazin, a wide range of high quality supplements, books, magazines…you name it. The only thing that is missing at Cape May Organic is you, so be sure to add this to your list of must visit places next time you find yourself down at the Cape. And as for me, I now happily bid Whole Foods a fond farewell.
Cape May Organic Market – 120 Park Boulevard, West Cape May. 609.884.3200.