“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead
It’s 1976, the early days of the natural food movement, and a small buying club has sprung up in the remote reaches of North Lake Tahoe. Purchasing organic produce from a single-van delivery service called Mountain People’s Warehouse, this group of dedicated citizens takes deliveries at a member’s garage and divvies up the shipment among themselves.
In time, Mountain People’s begins to offer more than just produce and the group opens a modest storefront, “We The People Co-op”, with grand ideals of changing the world by changing how we eat. The effort nearly collapses following a fire at the co-op. But through the investment, hard work and idealism of a few dedicated individuals, a new store– Tahoe Community Market– is born from the ashes. It’s general partner and long-time Tahoe local, Mark Calhoun, shepherds the market from a one-room cabin on the West Shore to new, respectable digs at 505 West Lake Blvd in Tahoe City. And from these humble beginnings, Tahoe had it’s first, legitimate Natural Foods store.
At the time, “health food” was considered a weird anomaly for hippies and oddballs. A standard joke of the era was that the cardboard box tasted better than its contents! It was a small tribe that withstood the scorn. They and other pockets of like-minded people understood how processed, industrial and downright poisonous the American diet had become. And they were determined to carve out a tiny niche in the food chain dedicated to products made from simple, whole ingredients, and produced by small companies that shared their values. As the natural foods industry ballooned in the 90’s, more and more people began to see the wisdom of eating and living this way. Tahoe Community Market opened a second location to serve the growing community of Truckee.
In 1997, Mark sold the Truckee store to his general manager, Billy Griffin. Billy changed the name to New Moon Natural Foods and three years later, in 2000, he bought the original market in Tahoe City as well. Through four expansions New Moon grew and grew, while our community did the same. In addition to natural grocery, New Moon now features the Crescent Café serving homemade organic meals, a 100% organic Juice Bar, the finest craft beer selection, gourmet cheeses, locally-raised meats and a 100% Organic Produce department with quality that rivals any store, anywhere.
Today Mountain People’s Warehouse is UNFI, the largest distributor of Natural Products in the nation, with revenues exceeding $10 Billion annually. The buying club that wound a path to become New Moon is now in its third decade with Billy still at the helm. And natural products can be found in nearly every grocery store and corner market in America. It appears those hippies were on to something. The times have a-changed, but the ideals remain the same: a commitment to ethically-sourced, high-integrity food and expert service for those with specialty diets.
And these days, the box is no match for the taste of what’s inside.
The New Moon is, traditionally, a time for new beginnings. It’s a time for planting seeds, starting new endeavors and casting off old patterns that have run their course. With every new cycle, the moon presents us a celestially-supported opportunity to re-examine ourselves and sprout a new, fresh leaf. A fitting name for a company dedicated to the continued reinvention of the food chain while helping our community find the healthiest and most harmonious ways of living.