In Michael Pollan’s latest book, In Defense of Food, he suggests sticking to the perimeter of a market while food shopping if you want to avoid processed foods.  For the most part he’s right – except if you shop at Russo’s in Watertown.  To be fair it is more like a farm stand without the farm than a supermarket.  There are no paper products in sight — just food everywhere.  Their wholesale business, selling to Whole Foods among other area stores and numerous restaurants, helps keep the retail prices pretty reasonable. 

But don’t go there just for the prices – go for the selection.  There are foods from all nations as the signs indicate.  They carry varieties of egg plant, hot peppers, sweet potatoes (including purple as well as yams from Japan) and beets of all colors to name a few.  In addition you’ll find pea tendrils, potato leaf, plantains, baby bananas, and an assortment of Middle Eastern breads.  There is a limited selection of meats and the dairy section is well stocked with products from local vendors.  Plenty of cheeses, cold cuts, prepared foods, an in-house bakery, and cut flowers.  And of course there are the seasonal fare: ramps now, soon they’ll have fiddle head ferns and other wonderful surprises throughout the spring, summer, and fall.

The first time you go plan to take your time walking through or you might miss the treasures to be found above and below the produce displays like nuts, dried fruits, condiments, pastas, jams, jellies, juices, etc.  Don’t take my word for it, go to their website, www.russos.com , and believe them when they say they are the food lover’s food store.  Holiday menus are available for those who are too busy to cook.  Russo’s is located at 560 Pleasant Street, Watertown, Ma, (617-923-1500).