Organic food has become more popular over the last few years as people are starting to put more thought into what they eat and how it affects their health. However, for the uninitiated looking for and finding the right eco-friendly, non-toxic, and organic products can become a chaotic mess. There are so many different labels, unfamiliar terms, and specific categories of products that it’s easy to get lost in the wide variety of natural, organic, non-GMO, pesticide-free, CSA, and free range products that suppliers offer.
A trip to the farmers market is always lots of fun, but many people may have trouble knowing what it is that they buy exactly. Also, it’s very easy to confuse one type of product for another when it comes to the many labels that organic food stores use to categorize items. One of the most important things to know when you’re starting your journey into the organic food world is what the right organic food store is for you depending on where you live, what kind of products you need, and how often you need them as well as what the stores in your area are.
What to Look for in an Organic Food Store
The term “organic” cannot be applied to any product as there are many requirements that an item must meet to be labeled as such. Organic produce cannot be grown in unsafe soil or in the same soil as regular produce and must not suffer any modifications.
This means for example that genetically modified crops (GMOs) will never be labeled as organic. No synthetic pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers or herbicides can be used on organic crops. Only organic feed can be given to organic livestock, which must also be raised in farms that offer access to outdoor space and cannot be given any antibiotics or growth hormones.
So, there are many boxes that farmers need to tick before being allowed to label a product as organic. You can also find products labeled as Natural because farmers don’t always go through the complicated bureaucratic process required to label a product as organic. However, they may still grow unmodified produce without using pesticides or herbicides.
Organic food stores often carry both organic and natural labeled products, so if you’re buying something that doesn’t have the organic label on it, read the ingredients list before you purchase an item.
CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms practice sustainable agriculture and often only use natural fertilizers and no pesticides. Look for organic food stores that rely on local suppliers for their products as much as possible. The best organic food stores will often turn to local farmers as this not only helps support the local economy and family farms in the community, but it also ensures that the produce is freshly picked and has the best quality possible for an affordable price.
Make sure that the organic food store you are shopping at carries certified organic labels and that it is reliable since some labels can be misleading. If you choose a certified store, your chances of getting truly organic and fresh food are better. The same care and attention that you put into reading the labels to make sure that they are what they claim to be should go into checking the credentials that the organic food store you’re buying from has.
How to Find an Organic Food Store Near You
There are many websites that can help you locate organic food stores in your area once you enter your location. Look at your available options and do a bit of research online: find out what other organic shoppers think of the respective stores and try out the ones that have overall good reviews and carry the type of products you need.
Make sure that the store you end up doing your regular shopping in caters to your requirements and has truly organic brands and produce. Find out more about the store to understand where your food is coming from and how fresh it is by inquiring about the store’s suppliers, collaborators, and policies concerning restocking and seasonal produce.
Farmers markets are a great place to go when you want to buy fresh organic foods from local suppliers. You might not be able to visit the farmers market near you as often as you’d like but organic food stores are likely to get some of their products from the local farmers that are also present in these markets. So, you might still be able to get a constant supply of your favorite organic produce, dairy, eggs, and meats from farms in the area from the organic grocery store that you frequent.
Shopping from an Organic Food Store Online
Another great option to supplement your pantry and fridge with the organic produce you need is to shop online. There are many farm-to-door delivery services that provide locally sourced organic produce, dairy, eggs, and meats, and you can look online and find one that operates in your area.
Most of these services offer fresh produce boxes that can be shipped every week or every few weeks depending on your needs. Depending on the service you use and your preferences you can get a periodic supply of seasonal local fruits and vegetables that changes with every delivery and add other organic food items to your produce box when you need them.
If you haven’t found the right organic food store near you yet, you can order recurrent shipments of fresh produce boxes using one of these delivery services and make sure that you have all of the ingredients you need for your weekly meals without even leaving the house to shop.
Supporting Sustainable Agriculture and Local Farmers
It may not seem like much but making sure that the organic foods that you are buying are locally sourced whenever possible will make a significant difference in your community. Not only you support the farmers in your area, but you are also contributing to the local economy and helping sustainable agricultural projects thrive.
Organic grocery stores often support local suppliers because it is not only beneficial for the community to do so, but it also ensures that the produce is as fresh as can be when it reaches the shelves and the customers. It’s always a good sign when your organic grocery store is selling produce that was grown a few miles away from your home.
Fresh produce is usually seasonal, so don’t be afraid to change your diet every once in a while and adjust to what is available in your area at the moment. Organic grocery stores can ship in some products that are in demand but cannot be grown in the region during some months of the year. Your best bet for fresh produce is to buy and eat what is locally grown and in season every time you shop. So, keep an open mind, try some new ingredients and recipes, and make sure that you love the organic grocery store that you decide to shop at every time.