Sunday, July 11, 2010
Dutch Bakery and Bulk Foods, Tipton, Missouri
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this scene, here in the Midwest, where large, centralized (and often overpriced) health-food bulk grocery stores are hard to find, we rely on Mennonite- or Amish-run stores out in the country for bulk ingredients.
Apart from highway signs, these stores don’t do a lot of advertising; most customers just “know” they’re there, by word of mouth.
The Dutch Bakery is on Highway 50 on the west side of Tipton, Missouri. It’s run by a family of Old Order Mennonites, and the store’s been there twenty-three years. (The owner told me that they started selling baked goods and produce at the Sedalia and Jeff City farmers’ markets five years before the store opened, so they’ve actually been in business since about 1982.)
Here’s a picture taken in late 2009, with the leaves gone. Notice anything unusual? How about that! Yes, it’s true—the World’s Largest 8-Ball looms like an alien eyeball over this sincere little grocery store!
See, there’s history: This water tower was painted to look like a huge 8-ball because Fischer Manufacturing, a billiard company, used to be right there by the water tower. When Spalding bought them out in 1968, Fischer was the country’s largest builder of pool tables. Tipton’s quite proud of its landmark!
Anyway, it’s quirky juxtapositions like this—the Mennonite grocery sitting there, keeping a straight face, beneath this giant goofy 8-Ball—that make small towns such a gas.
And if you’re driving along Highway 50, you have no excuse for “missing” the Dutch Bakery—just look for the Giant 8-Ball!
By the way, if you’re reading this and are not sure you’ll feel comfortable venturing into the “different culture” of a Mennonite-run grocery store, get over yourself! Yes, Mennonites are rather soft-spoken; the women wear those little caps; and you’ll probably overhear some musical and unintelligible Pennsylvania- or Swiss-German dialect—but make no mistake: You are welcome here, and they, like all store owners, are glad to sell you their stuff!
At Dutch Market, in addition to a huge variety of bulk foods, pasta, snacks, dried fruits, and baking supplies, they also sell hanging baskets, vegetable starts, and bedding plants in season; wooden lawn furniture; homemade bakery goods; home-canning supplies; meats and cheeses; and fresh local produce.
Part grocery, part produce-stand, and part bakery, this is where I got the cantaloupe the other day that became Ginger Melon Sorbet. I also got some pumpkin-walnut bread and a Swedish tea ring (day-old, discounted—give me a break) and some nice ripe yellow and red tomatoes. (Yes, the good kind!) There were also new potatoes, squash, cucumbers, and plenty more.
And bulk spices! —I had run out of bay leaves. At Dutch Bakery, I bought their smallest plastic sack of bulk bay leaves (I think it’s fresher when they bag it from bulk)—0.13 lb. (which is at least ten times as much as you get in a bottle of Durkee) for 85 cents. The only problem with this? Now I’ve got lots more bay than I know what to do with. What a hardship, huh?
Unlike a lavish, orthorexic-approved Whole Foods supermarket (or “Whole Paycheck,” as some of my friends call it), Dutch Bakery sells some bulk items that can’t be called “health foods.” Many of the dried fruits are stabilized with sulpher dioxide, and they can be tinted with, say, FD&C Yellow #6. (They are plainly marked, so it’s not like they’re hiding it from you.)
And you can buy, in bulk, all kinds of powdered and dehydrated soup and dip mixes—which, compared to homemade soups and sauces from scratch, are at a minimum just sad, and at worst, an abomination. (Unless you're camping or something.) I saw you can also get bags of that fluorescent-neon-orange powder that you add to cooked macaroni to make a bulk-foods equivalent to “Kraft Mac & Cheese.” Again, it’s not exactly “health food.” But then—if you’re wanting to feed your army on the cheap, this is the place for you.
I love it that I can get my healthy bulk grains there. Oat bran muffins, here we come!
The summary: It’s a family-run, small, local business. They’ve got great prices on a bunch of stuff that you want to buy. The produce is top-notch. The drive there is pleasant. And you’ll smile.
Plus, while you’re there, you can take pictures of the World’s Largest 8-Ball!
More Information That You Didn’t Ask for but Ought to Know
There’s a lot more to enjoy in Tipton, Missouri, such as the Vanilla Grill (believed by some to have the best chocolate ice cream ever), and Ghetto Superstar. Tipton is also the hometown of Gene Clark (a founding member of the Byrds), and he’s buried there. So if you’re a fan, you have to make a pilgrimage to the St. Andrew Catholic Cemetery, now, too!
ADDENDUM, October 8, 2010
In light of the enthusiastic endorsements below, I went and got some of the Dutch Bakery's "Dutch letters." Here's my post on them.