French Broad Food Co-Op Review Asheville, North Carolina
Local Business Reviews

French Broad Food Co-op Review: All About Community

With its prime location, frequent parking lot jam sessions, and seasonal local plants outside near the large windowfronts, chances are you’ve driven by the French Broad Food Co-op with your curiosity piqued. 

I’ve worked at a number of natural grocery stores, small and large. With their local brands, microscope view into the community, and approachable size, they’re a comfort to me, and I always pencil it into my itinerary when traveling to make my way to one. The French Broad Co-op has remained at the top of my list throughout my travels, and for good reason.

If you’re not familiar with the word “co-op,” it simply means “community owned.” Community ownership means that there is no single owner – 2,500 owners and growing, in fact! 

Having a co-op means no sellout and giving the owners a voice in how the business is run and operates. Since 1975, the French Broad Co-op has flourished and thrived in the heart of downtown Asheville

French  Broad Food Co Op Ashevillle, NC
All images courtesy of French Broad Food Co-op

What the quaint and cozy natural grocery store lacks in space, it makes up for in authenticity. A few steps into the door, and you can tell this business oozes community and people over profit. You are immediately hit with smiles and good vibes in a place where all the employees talk to one another like family. A bulletin board is jam-packed with flyers and business cards spouting a variety of events and services that are pure Asheville.

An impressive display of drinks coolers that spans the checkout area is always the first place I go. I have replaced my daily $5 craft beer habit of my 20s with the fizzy n/a kind of drink habit I justify as healthy – kombuchas, yerba mate, and sparkling waters galore! This is Asheville, so of course there is a decent little selection of microbrews, too. 

This store always seems to have the best selection, especially of local or smaller brands. Even as a frequent visitor of Whole Foods, I just can’t get there what I can find at the French Broad. Shanti Elixirs’ “Orange Roselle with CBD” is nothing short of heaven, and I snagged my kiddos a Buchi “Water,” which has elderberry and coconut in it – so tasty.

The produce at the co-op is 100% organic. As someone who has tried and failed to grow strawberries organically over the years, I can say that feat does not go unnoticed! French Broad Co-op also aims to support the community and farmers by sourcing all produce within 150 miles (usually much closer than that) from the store.

French  Broad Food Co Op Review

This practice not only ensures that the fruits and veggies are grown on local farms with eco-conscious practices in mind but also that the amount of fuel and resources used is minimized, reducing further pollution that a traditional supermarket would expend. 

You can’t mention the French Broad Food Co-op without people talking about their bulk department. They boast the largest in the southeast. You read that right! The room is a haven for all those who are budding backyard herbalists, but even those who are just looking to reduce their eco-footprint will get their money’s worth in the wall-to-wall bulk room. 

I especially love the bulk department in the fall, when I know elderberries are hard to find, to stock up my medicine cabinet with astragalus, yarrow, chamomile, and lots of oolong and black teas. Multiple scales sit in the center of the room, where you bag up and weigh your items in a stress-free, low-pressure environment, which is especially great for those of us who like to window-shop our herbs. 

You are also encouraged to bring your own jars or containers, which can be weighed out beforehand, eliminating more unneeded waste. They have just about every herb, tea, spice, flour, dried fruit, and nut imaginable. 

French Broad Food Co Op Grocery

The grocery department has whatever you need for all dietary needs or restrictions. The dry goods and frozen sections are both filled with vegan and vegetarian options, as well as local and grass fed meats from farms like Hickory Nut Gap.

Fresh local bread, cheese, and eggs are delivered to the store, and you don’t want to miss out on the fresh bread from OWL bakery. Three Graces Creamery, Roots hummus, and Silvermoon Chocolates are some of my favorite “don’t miss” local items to fill my basket with. 

The co-op also does a great job at filling its body care and supplement aisle with products from as many local makers and farms as possible. In the past few years, they have changed the layout of the store and have been able to expand the space, with the isles a bit more streamlined and wider. 

Review of French Broad Co Op

Every inch is packed with remedies for what ails you: essential oils, handmade candles, vitamins, salves, tinctures, homeopathics, and so much more. There’s also a great selection of books from child rearing to fire cider making. My book-buying ban didn’t last long, as I picked up one from Rosemary Gladstar with a beautiful purple cover.  

The staff is extremely helpful and patient, particularly so in this department. I have never felt ostracized or made to feel silly for asking for a particular herb, seeking advice, or presenting a very vague question for an item that I sort of remember but probably am not saying right. The employees are all knowledgeable and will help you find whatever it is that you are looking for or point you in the right direction if you are a bit astray. 

If you want to stay in the loop with the co-op, they’re fairly active on Facebook, and their blog is regularly updated with recipes, deals, and owner happenings. Becoming an owner is a fee that can be made over the course of one, 10, or 20 years. 

French Broad Food Co Op Store

Owners receive an extra 10% off any price and can also help run and lead the future of the co-op by running for the Board of Directors. If grocery store ownership isn’t in the cards for you, then just stop by and check out the low prices, culture, and abundance of great food that is as local as Asheville gets. 

They are open daily, 8 am to 8 pm, next door to LaZoom. Don’t let the first impression of the tiny parking lot deter you! Keep going towards the back for a lower parking lot without meters and with more wiggle room than the bustling streetside one.  

The French Broad Co-op truly is one of a kind, and I hope it stays that way. Because, personally, I want my grocery store to have someone in their parking lot roasting fresh chestnuts or playing the spoons with fervor, or I don’t want it at all. 

Location: 90 Biltmore Ave., Asheville.

There you have it! Our review of the French Broad Food Co-op in Asheville. Have you been to the French Broad Food Co-op? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Ashley Reid is a freelance writer who feels blessed to have called Asheville home for the last five years. Born in the suburbs of Detroit, she spent her 20s living coastal in South Carolina before the Blue Ridge Mountains called her home. Ashley is a homeschooling mother to her two daughters, married to her high school sweetheart, and always looking to the horizon for her next adventure. Ashley moved to Western North Carolina after years of visiting on vacations and realized this place was way too beautiful to leave behind. The Pisgah National Forest, abundance of waterfalls, Blue Ridge Parkway, and plethora of tasty eats in the area won her over to the Tarheel State. She is happiest when she is riverside and is vehement about keeping herself and her children outdoors as much as possible. Ashley is a woman never short of a hobby or new interest. She writes for various publications and companies. She is a voracious reader, aspiring author, sewist, gardener, and amateur homesteader. She loves working with her hands and being with her kids. She has never considered being called weird an insult and has no problem telling strangers about her love of opossums or a new podcast episode. Ashley is always on the hunt for the best burger and coffee in town. She is passionate about wellness, kindness, and keeping childhood wild.

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