FOOD SHOP: Riverwards Produce
“Being in the center of the neighborhood relieves some of the stress of food shopping for the people who live here.”
Neighborhood grocers—smaller than Acme and Superfresh, independently owned—evoke a bygone era. The people of Fishtown have one of these nostalgia-stirring gems in Riverwards Produce, owned by Vincent Finazzo, but there is nothing fusty about the place.
The 2,000-square-foot market, which started as a pop-up in 2016, has a modern, bright feel. That’s all by design, according to Finazzo, who wanted to create a grocery store that’s actually pleasant to be in. He imagined his regulars popping in to grab ingredients for dinner after work, multiple nights a week. And they do.
“People tell me they like not needing their car to just walk two or five blocks and get just what they need. They don’t feel like they need to pack their fridge because they don’t know when they’ll get back to the store,” says Finazzo. “Being in the center of the neighborhood relieves some of the stress of food shopping for the people who live here.”
That’s good for his business, of course, but this style of frequent shopping also contributes to a goal close to Finazzo’s heart—cutting down on food waste. When people shop more often, buying only what they have immediate plans to use, fewer produce items go moldy in the crisper and end up in a landfill.
Riverwards does more to combat food waste than encouraging individual shoppers to toss less. The shop embraces so-called “ugly produce,” apples or potatoes that don’t quite make the grade for display at Whole Foods and other big chains due to some minor cosmetic imperfection or variation in size. Many of these fruits and vegetables, as well as the rest of Riverwards’ inventory, come directly from local farmers and makers.
Not only does this practice help chip away at the food-waste problem, it also helps Finazzo offer a good value to his customers. Such items retail for about 15 percent less than “perfect” produce. That’s a win-win for everyone.
2200 E. Norris St.