The number of people becoming more conscious of what they put into their bodies is growing more by the day– and with it, people are trading in a diet full of processed foods with dangerous ingredients (most of which you can’t even pronounce), for a healthy diet with organic, whole foods. The unfortunate thing is GMO crops have traditionally been much cheaper than organic crops. However, there is good news. The price difference is a simple supply and demand issue. You see, GMO crops dominate the farmland in the US making them cheaper to buy. Conversely, organic crops have a drastically smaller percentage of US farmland making many organic crops (or products using organic crops) more expensive. However, as people continue the trend of wanting a healthy, natural diet, more stores are adding organic produce, foods, and beverages which is leading to more farmland being allocated to organic crop. Therefore, the prices have decreased from what they were a few years ago.
Nevertheless, I still hear people say “I would love to eat organic but it just costs too much money.” I explain that you will need to go to a few different stores to find the cheapest prices if you want to avoid GMOs, chemical pesticides and herbicides, and other dangerous chemicals used in the processed food industries. The simple truth is, there is not a single store with an organic foods selection that could be categorize as having a wide variety or ample supply of organic, healthy foods.
Or at least that was what I believed a week ago…
That all changed when I checked out a new health food store that just opened up down the street from my house called Natural Grocers. When I go to a new health food store, my hope is to find enough organic products at good enough prices to add that store to the list of store I buy groceries at. Since my fiancée and I were about to visit my family in Phoenix for Thanksgiving my hope was that Natural Grocers would have enough healthy, organic, road trip goodies to allow us to only make one stop.
The fact that you are reading this post should tell you that my hopes were greatly exceeded by this wonderful store.
In 1955 Margaret Isely became chronically ill after giving birth to her second child. She turned to allopathic medicine which worked! It lead her to Adelle Davis’ book “Let’s Get Well“, which advocates the ancient and time-tested approach of using nutrition to allow the body to self-heal. Margaret and her husband Philip became “health crusaders” after she was healed using the teachings from the book. They borrowed $200 dollars and went door to door lending out books on nutrition and giving out samples of whole grain bread. They then would return two weeks later to discuss nutrition and take orders for supplements, the bread and other nutritionally dense, nourishing foods.
They started Natural grocers as a family ran business based on 5 principles,
- Nutrition Education
- Highest Quality Products
- Affordable Pricing
- Commitment to our Community
- Commitment to our Employees
Today, these 5 core principles are alive and well despite the Grocers have expanded to 112 stores in 19 states with an estimated 20 more opening sometime next year.. They hire Nutritional Health Coaches and host nutritional seminars (more on that later). The store is not perfect in the second principle– not everything they sell is certified organic or part of the Non-GMO project and some of their products contain vegetable oils that are not healthy, like canola oil. However, of any store I have been in, Natural Grocers has the fewest products I would avoid and they have a pretty impressive list of harmful ingredients that they DO NOT allow in products in their stores. This list has harmful ingredients that are commonly found in food products, beverages, nutritional supplements and body products elsewhere. The prices are incredibly affordable, enough so that I will be able to get most if not all my groceries there.
There are many aspects of this store that have thoroughly impressed me, but nothing impresses more so than their dedication to educate their customers with seminars presented by nutritional experts. The awesome thing about these seminars is that they are completely free. Even more awesome news is that the store actually rewards you for going to seminars by giving you gift cards or other prizes for every fourth seminar you attend. Since the store in my neighborhood is new and is not set up to their national system, they give you a packet to collect the 4 stamps. Although, after a month, the store gets connected in the national system and from that point they keep track of the seminars you attend via your phone number. When you meet the four seminar requirement, they put the reward in their system under your phone number and you can use it at any store. This is a really cool way to go to a seminar at multiple stores and get credit without needing to carry around a stamp card.
The produce section at Natural Grocers is unlike anything I have seen in other health food stores. The size of the produce section at my local store, is not all that impressive, but what makes it impressive is the fact that all their produce in every store is all organic. That’s right, they do not sell any GMO crops in their stores! The other cool thing is that they sell things that are almost never found in other stores. For instance, they stock fresh turmeric root and, when available, exotic super foods like dragon fruit.
Natural Grocers has a very big selection of supplements which include vitamins, and individual medicinal herbs. The medicinal herbal supplements extend outside those used in the west and include herbs used in Ancient Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda Medicine from India.
They also carry an ample supply of superfood supplements in powder, seed and oil form, such as hemp (seeds, oils and powder) Acai powder, chia seeds, and Cuma Cuma powder etc.. They also have a good selection of plant-based protein powders and bars– including a great selection of bars using sprouted seeds.
The Dairy standards at Natural foods are quite high and they are currently phasing out products that don’t meet their standard. Examples of these standards are animals that are not raised in barns or other confined areas, animals that are not allowed to graze in pastures and animals shot up with growth hormones. One of my first articles was about how we have been tricked into looking at fat as something dangerous. However, many people are waking up to this deception and are trying to reintroduce whole milk and yogurt into their diets again and Natural Grocers is a great place to go in search of them. I also fall into the growing group of people who do not want their dairy products to have their nutrients destroyed via the pasteurization and homogenization processes. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any company that makes things like yogurt and cottage cheese with raw milk. That leaves cheese and milk itself. Sadly, many state’s laws prohibit Natural Grocers from selling raw milk at this time, but they do have some delicious raw cheeses. The good news is they do sell milk that is non-homogenization and their meat standards are as high their dairy standards.
Nuts, Herbs and Spices
They have an ample supply of all three. However, not all are organic, but they do sell a variety of nuts that are raw that you can not easily find elsewhere. The prices for these are very good. They also have a great selection of organic herbs and spices in bulk that are also not easily found elsewhere and at really good prices as well.
Many stores are starting to add more healthy beverages to their shelves such as coconut water, cold pressed juices and probiotic drinks meant to restore healthy gut bacteria. Natural Grocers is no different and sell all of these products. The only difference is that their supply is much better. If you are looking for cold pressed juices or kombucha teas, this is the place for you.
Natural Grocers is not perfect, but they are always trying to improve their standards of what foods or ingredients they allow on its shelves. If they find out something is dangerous, they will not hesitate to remove it from their stores. This constant dedication to providing quality product at great prices while focusing on informing people how to lead healthier lives, has made me consider them the best grocery store I have ever been in. We are living in a time where aisle after aisle of most grocery stores contain foods that are full of toxic crap. We have to turn our backs on those types of stores if our society is going to regain optimal health. So, if you are lucky enough to live by a Natural Grocers, I highly recommend you start shopping there. Stores that focus on providing nutritionally dense food need to be the way of the future if we want to live long fulfilling lives .
And who doesn’t want that?