Who: VN Editorial Assistant Charlotte Gordon
What: Rainbow Grocery
Where: San Francisco
When: July 7, 2009
Why: To experience Rainbow Grocery for the first time and secure a place among my vegan peers.
The Scoop: Having heard the name “Rainbow” so many times in the office and not being able to associate it with anything, I figured that it surely was linked to some vegan rite of passage. The sense of camaraderie that followed its mention as stories were shared and foreign (to me) vegan food was discussed only fortified this assumption—I finally decided to make the life-changing trek to this grocery co-op.
I packed my provisions (gum and a bottle of kombucha) and hopped aboard the L train. I got off at Van Ness and ventured to the somewhat seedy side of town. Navigating my way through sidewalk construction, I finally walked under a freeway overpass and saw the green awning that read “Rainbow.” I had made it to the vegan oasis in the urban jungle, and boy, was it worth the trip!
There were no awkward run-ins with the meat section because, well, there is no meat section! What the store does have are all the vegetarian specialty foods you could ever hope to cram into one place: dairy-free ice cream galore, a fine assortment of vegan cheeses, and massive amounts of grains for stockpiling. The highlight of my trip? The baked-goods section, where label after label read “vegan.” From turnovers to cupcakes, a grip of treats were untainted with moo juice—it had to be documented. With my camera poised and ready, I was about to shoot every fluffy muffin and pinched crust when an employee politely informed me that pictures are not allowed. I pointed to myself and said “VegNews,” and that’s all it took to have free reign with the food photography. (Hmm, what other advantages come with my new VegNews status?)
I kept my eye on the prize (vegan chocolate-peanut-butter cupcake), and made it home safe. Now, with the milestone of discovering Rainbow under my belt, I feel a sense of empowerment. I now know where the widest selection of vegan specialty foods—aka cupcakes—are in San Francisco and am now a full-fledged San Francisco vegan.