macro wholefoods

Ladies and Gentlemen, witness the demise of Victoria’s largest natural and organic store.

Macro Wholefoods opened in Richmond with much fanfare in 2005. However, it seems that even the chi-chi, health-aware foodies of Melbourne don’t shop there, so it’s holding a closing down sale until 21 June, after which time the stores will rise from the ashes from around August 2009 as part of the upmarket Woolworths’ owned supermarket chain Thomas Dux.

To be honest, I’m not surprised. Firstly, I’ve noticed that Australia seems to be quite behind the UK and Europe in terms of the availability of and demand for organic food. The widest range of organic produce in Melbourne is available at Queen Victoria Market, which contains only three organic produce stalls and one organic butcher. Walk into any supermarket in the UK and you’ll find an organic version of pretty much every fresh product. Further, on my return from London, I was shocked to discover that in Australia the prices for organic food are regularly double or even triple the prices of non-organic food. Sadly, that means I can’t afford to buy organic meat anymore (opting for free range and hoping for the best) and I rarely buy organic fruit and vegetables unless they are wildly fresh and are to be eaten solo ie I wouldn’t use organic potatoes to thicken a soup.

The added difficulty with Macro’s business model was that its products (not all of it organic) were generally even more expensive than the stalls at the fresh food markets, the health stores, the bulk food co-ops and the national supermarkets.

However, a week before closing, it was Everything Must Go! I snaffled:

  • Macro’s organic honey 500g $4.99
  • Macro’s organic tomato sauce $3.99
  • Macro’s insecticide free sunflower kernels 500g $5.99
  • Herbs of Gold Cold & Flu Defence 30 tablets $13.50
  • several jars of jams and Louisiana Cajun sauce from Yackandandah Jam & Preserving Company. [Update: The jams are great and actually available for sale at Woolies too. RM prefers the strawberry jam, I like the raspberry. The Cajun sauce was a bit too sweet and factory-processed-tasting,  not recommended.]

Two days before closing the shelves had been stripped absolutely bare except for a few lonely bulk items on trestle table. I loaded my panniers with walnuts (walnut meringe cake), cashews (stir fry), almonds (couscous), linseeds (muesli) and pine nuts (pasta). We will be eating a lot of nuts in the next few months!