The Moonflower Co-op is a hub for Moab food connoisseurs
If Moab’s spectacular national parks and red rock canyons are on your list of summer road-trip destinations, consider a stop at the friendly Moonflower Community Cooperative. It will not only fill your cooler, camper or backpack with healthy and nutritious meals, snacks and groceries but will put you in touch with the spirit of Moab.
As Utah’s first member-owned natural foods co-op, the original “Moab Co-op” began as a health-food buying club in the mid-1970s that subsequently evolved through changes in business models and location upgrades since its founding. In 2013, it became consumer owned and, after a significant renovation in 2017, enjoyed a grand reopening. It now serves the colorful and diverse Moab community, operating in accordance with the cooperative principles adopted by the 1995 General Assembly of the International Co-operative Alliance.
Entering the modest sun-lit space, the sweet vital scent of fresh produce permeates the air. With a mission to provide “socially responsible foods, goods and education to promote a healthy, sustainable community,” Moonflower works with local growers of the area as much as possible to offer such items as flintnapper Greg Nunn’s huge sweet carrots, bags of spinach, lettuces, arugula, chard and cucumbers from Castle Valley Farms, kale from Cinco Cedros Farm in Blanding and favored fruits from the orchards of Paradox Valley and the Western Slope of Colorado. The large map on the wall features the names and locations of these produce suppliers so shoppers can be informed and confident in their quality.
The nearby beverage selection is vast. No super-sweet colas here. Rather, you’ll find bottled juices, spicy ginger ales, chilled teas and coffees and Kombucha blends here.
The Datura Deli is bursting with daily selections from the small on-site kitchen. The chilled case offers organic meat and veggie sandwiches, wraps and a wide selection of salads made with high protein grains and garden-fresh veggies. Choose ginger-sesame noodles or superfood salad, organic fried chicken, falafel snacks or hummus dips sold in compostable packaging. A cabinet of baked goods from Moonflower’s ovens display breads such as focaccia, ciabatta and challah as well as cookies, scones and muffins. Next to it sits the hot bar of soups and daily specials. The week’s selections are posted in advance and might include cottage pie, Lebanese turnovers, chile relleno casserole, kung pao or barbecue tempeh with orzo. Moonflower is committed to ingredient integrity and uses local, organic and pesticide-free ingredients. (Moab strives to be a waste-free town, so BYO bags, dishes and utensils if you can.)
Dietary restrictions? No problem. Moonflower stays current on alternative dietary choice trends. As such, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, keto and paleo offerings abound.
One would think Moonflower would need long aisles and deep shelves for its varied inventory of 20,000 SKUs, but no. They have mastered the art of making every tidy inch useful and attractive.
In the refrigerator aisle, high-quality grass-fed organic meat selections are sourced from Ruby Ranch, whose cows graze on local pastures. New York strips, ribeye steaks and ground beef along with cuts of lamb from Coyote Lamb right up the river road in Spanish Valley are also available. Because Moonflower communicates directly with local ranchers, they can fine-tune their orders to meet customers’ requests and offer reasonable pricing.
Customers have welcomed the addition of charcuterie and imported cheeses, such as Italian pecorino in wheels from Caputo’s in Salt Lake City.
Exotic scents waft through the aisle with the bulk bins of soup mixes, spices, herbs, teas and coffee from Moab Coffee Roasters. You’ll find legumes and flours from Adobe Mills in Dove Creek as well as a wide variety of local honeys. Pasta, grains, condiments, chips, nuts, locally-made granola and a huge selection of hot sauces fill up the next aisle.
Of course, there would have to be an aisle of environmentally friendly dry goods and shelves of nutritional supplements and regional offerings of therapeutic herbal preparations, such as those from Sundial Medicinals, Wise Raven, Victoria White Eagle and even my own company, Millcreek Herbs.
Manager Derek Whitworth puts it succinctly: “All our products are vetted. People buy a unique product mix at Moonflower. We like to buy direct, be different, cater to the community and boost the local economy.”
Visitors to the area should know that you do not have to be a member to shop there. With a mission to be “a hub for health, wellness and community building,” after shopping at Moonflower, you can’t help but feel you’ve connected with Moab at a deeper level.
Moonflower Community Cooperative
39 E. 100 North, Moab