With the general populace becoming more environmentally and health conscious, a lot of consumers are opting for organic and naturally-grown food. Nutritional activists claim that organic foods are much healthier and much friendlier on the environment. There is a large assortment of different foods available that are organically grown. You can buy anything from vegetables, meats, and dairy products, all produced without the aid of chemicals or genetic hormones. But unless you happen to live on your own farm and produce your own food, you may ask yourself ‘where can I buy organic food’?
Shopping for organic food is not the same as shopping for conventional food. You don’t just walk into any number of stores located around the block and have your pick of shelf after shelf of organic products. It is a little more difficult than that. Organic food is not that common (although availability is improving). Depending on where you live, you may have to drive further than the nearest grocery store to purchase it. If you are interested in buying organic food and looking for a retailer or grower, here are some places you should check out.
Direct From The Farmer
Probably the best source for organic food is going to be direct from the farmer who grows it. This will be easier if you live in a more rural area or know of any local farmers within an easy drive. By purchasing straight from the farmer, you will be guaranteed that the food will be fresher than anything found in a grocery store. Also, if you go to where the farmer grows his produce in order to buy it, you can see their set-up and make sure that the food is truly organic. If you see several barrels or chemical pesticides sitting around, chances are some false advertising is involved. Another positive point about buying direct from the farmer is that the price may be cheaper than what you would pay in any grocery store.
Farmers Markets and Organic Markets
Besides buying direct from the farmer, the next best place to buy organic food is at a farmers market. There are farmers markets just about everywhere in the U.S., in both rural and urban areas. The produce is still fresh, usually picked within the last day or two, and shipped directly to the market. However, not all produce at a farmers market will be 100% organic. Some of it may have been grown using synthetics. Before you buy from a seller, ask them how they grew their produce. There may have been some chemicals involved. I should point out that not all food labeled as ‘organic’ are actually 100% organically grown. Government regulation states that a small percentage of synthetics can be used in production of organic foods.
There are also organic markets that have been around for the last ten years or so and have become more popular as environmental issues have grown. Organic markets are just like farmers markets except that all of the food there is organically grown. You should still read the labels to make sure you know what you are buying. Organic markets are still not as common as farmers markets but if you find one in your area, you should definitely go to it first.
Years ago, you could shop all through a grocery store and never once see a label for anything that was organically or naturally grown. As far as labels went, you were doing yourself a favor by not reading about all the ‘ingredients’ included in some food. But now there are more grocery store chains that are including organic foods on their shelves. You can find them in supermarkets such as Albertson’s, Brookshire’s, Kroger’s, and Wal-Mart. You may find organic food scattered through the store next to its conventional food counterparts or there might be a small section devoted only to organics. The organic foods are still nowhere near as abundant as the other conventional foods but as consumer demand grows, so will the shelf space.
Health Food Chains
There are several health food chains that have been around for years. They are generally found in urban areas where the demographic centers on a more health-conscious population. You are not liable to find one in the middle of nowhere stuck between a truck stop and Billy Bob’s Barbeque.
There are three major health food chains where you can find organic foods. They are Whole Foods Market, trader Joe’s, and Wild Oats Market. All of these stores specialize in food and products that are natural and free of chemical enhancements. Whole Food Markets even has a ‘Natural Meat Program’ where all of their meats are guaranteed to be free of animal byproducts, growth hormones, and antibiotics.
Some consumers may have a hard time finding organic food locally. If that is the case, try searching through the internet. There are many sites that deal in health and nutrition. These sites are likely to have either organic food products or links to other sites with such products. Once you find a site that sells organic food, you can order directly from them and they will ship the produce to you. A good site to check out is LocalHarvest.com. This site is a great source for listing where you can find organically-grown foods both locally and throughout the United States.
Find a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
A CSA (or Community Supported Agriculture) is not so common in some areas but if you have a local CSA farm, it is a great way to get the freshest organic food. CSA farms are partnerships between the producing farms and local consumers. After paying a membership fee, consumers get a share of locally grown foods, usually on a weekly basis and as long as the season lasts. Shares are either delivered to the consumer or are picked up at the CSA farm. This is a great way to support your local farmers and agriculture while at the same time getting guaranteed nutritious natural produce.