Many people that decide to start eating organic food find it difficult to track down truly organic produce in their area and can often be fooled by the so-called “natural” labels and products. To make organic produce shopping easier and more accessible, we have come up with a few things you can do to narrow your search of vendors, suppliers, and services that can provide you with a wide range of organic foods.
Know Where Your Food Comes From
The most important question to ask yourself when you’re shopping for organic produce is: where does it come from? Fresh, organic, locally-grown produce is the best option and local farmers in your area are bound to sell seasonal fruits and vegetables. However, when it comes to other pantry staples and foods, they might not be locally available.
The best way to make sure that the food you buy is organic is to find out where it comes from and check that the supplier is a certified organic grower or producer.
In order for a product to be labeled as organic in the United States, it has to comply with a complex set of requirements: no pesticides, herbicides or genetically modified seeds can be used for growing organic produce, and organic meat, dairy, and eggs must come from free-range animals that have not been fed growth hormones or antibiotics.
Trust USDA certified organic labels since these are only given to products that have complied with the USDA regulations concerning organic foods as specified by the National Organic Program. That being said, where can you find these products?
1. Local Farmers Markets
If you have the time and opportunity, regular visits to your local farmers market is the best way to get the freshest organic produce. First of all, locally grown produce is going to be considerably fresher than the produce that has been shipped in from a different location since most local produce is only harvested a few hours before being brought to the market and sold.
Secondly, most small farmers don’t use pesticides and herbicides that industrial farms use and their produce is natural. You can check with farmers and ask if they use any chemicals when growing their fruits and vegetables since many of them will choose not to go through the complicated process of acquiring an organic label for their produce but will still grow it organically and naturally.
By shopping at local farmers markets you are getting the freshest organic produce and supporting small family-owned farms in your community. It’s beneficial to your local economy, the farmers themselves and your health above all. So, don’t hesitate to get most of your organic foods from these markets.
2. Organic Food Stores
If you can’t find everything you need at your local farmers market, or if you don’t have a farmers market near you, organic food stores are the next best thing for a quick shopping trip. Just be careful about what you buy there since most organic food stores can carry some non-organic brands as well.
“Natural” labels imply that no artificial or synthetic additives have been used in a product but that does not mean that the product is 100% organic, so read the ingredient list before buying any item that doesn’t carry the USDA-approved organic label.
If you want to make the best of your organic produce shopping at an organic store, ask the owner or one of the employees about their suppliers. Chances are that they are getting the seasonal fresh produce from local farmers, so find out what the freshest fruits and vegetables are and plan your meal based on that.
You can also look into locally farmed free-range eggs and dairy products and buy those from the organic store. Not only will you help local farmers sell their products for a fair price and make a living, but you’ll also enjoy the difference in taste. After you’ve had free-range eggs and locally-produced organic butter you’ll think the regular eggs and butter you buy in supermarkets taste like cardboard.
3. Organic Produce Delivery
For most people, managing to plan regular trips to the farmers market on a busy schedule isn’t easy or, at times, even possible. Fresh produce only lasts up to a week in your fridge and it’s hard to find the time to get your organic shopping done on a regular basis when you’ve also got a job, family and home to take care of.
If you can’t find the time to get to your local farmers market, but still want to have a steady supply of organic produce available, you might want to look into buying your organic produce online instead. There are specialized services available that provide organic produce delivery nationwide and that can supply you with regular shipments of fresh produce according to your needs.
This way you can have fresh organic produce delivery to your doorstep without having to worry about squeezing trips to the farmers market into your busy schedule. Depending on the area that you live in, there are some local organic produce delivery services that can supply you with seasonal produce from your region. Look for companies that operate and deliver in your area.
You can choose the items that the service delivers, and most of these suppliers offer several sizes and types of fresh produce boxes that you can pick from. Vegetable-only, fruit-only, and mixed produce boxes can be delivered to you weekly and some services can also adjust the frequency of their shipments to every two week, every three weeks, or even once a month.
You can visit these services’ websites to find out what their organic produce prices, local suppliers, and available items are, and customize your order according to your needs. Other organic products such as dairy, eggs, meats, and pantry staples are also available online. So, if you don’t have time to regularly visit your local farmers market, an online organic produce delivery service might be the best alternative for you.