You’ve committed to starting to eat well, and you are on board now with limiting processed food, eating nutrient dense whole foods, clean produce, and wild caught/pastured raised animal products. Armed with your trusty list of what to stock in your pantry, you head to the grocery store confident that you will return with loads of healthy food. Depending on the area of the country that you live, you may have a similar experience to when I walked into my local chain grocery store. With new educated eyes, trained to know what to seek out and what to avoid, you begin scanning the store.
You head to the produce section looking for strawberries, apples, bananas, kale, celery, potatoes, avocadoes, and lettuce. You already know that many of these things are on the Dirty Dozen List and are the worst offenders for pesticide contamination, so you are seeking organic for these items. Disheartened at no organic produce in your store, you leave with some bananas and avocados, since they are low sprayed crops.
You head to the meat department. You know the dangers of animals raised in CAFOs, fed GMO corn and soy. You’ve resolved not to buy this kind of meat now. You scan the meat bins looking for organic and pasture raised…..The closest you can find is “vegetarian fed” and “all-natural.” Womp Womp!
You had planned to make tacos for dinner with your avocados, so you search for tortillas. You find some! Excitedly you turn over the package only to find that there is an ingredient list longer than your arm including rancid vegetable oils and GMO corn and soy.
You did find some salsa that looked pretty decent, so you go home with salsa and avocados for dinner.
Wait a minute…
Ok so this was a pretty exaggerated tale, but not too far off from what my first couple of shopping experiences were like after I learned about healthy eating. I had to do a lot of searching and digging, but here are my sources now for where to find healthy food.
At my regular chain grocery store
There is still a lot a buy from my grocery store, but not as much as I used to. I still buy beans, lentils, grains, nuts, any produce on the clean 15 and any organic produce on the dirty dozen that they stock, spices, oats, baking goods, real maple syrup, natural peanut butter, organic jam, clean salsas, occasionally organic corn chips, baking soda, vinegar, wild caught seafood, frozen fruit, and frozen veggies.
Not all grocery stores will carry all of these items, but many are becoming more progressive and you can even request that they start carrying certain items. I have even found Kerrygold raw cheddar cheese at Aldi. They also carry dirt cheap avocados, bananas, etc. I wouldn’t bother with their boxed food, but it’s worth looking at their frozen, refrigerated, and produce sections. Aldi’s prices can’t be beat.
This is a great place to search for quality animal products in your area. You simply click on your state and a list of farmers near you will be displayed along with a brief description of what their farm has to offer. We recently bought a side of a grass fed beef from a farmer that I found on Eat Wild. It has been such a money saver and time saver to have so much quality meat already in my house. When this beef runs out, we will definitely be buying more.
This is another site that has tons of information on farms in your area. Most of the time, your best bet is to buy directly from a farmer. It will be less expensive, fresh, and you are supporting small family farms and sustainable practices. From their website: “The best organic food is what’s grown closest to you. Use our website to find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.”
Farmer’s Markets are great because you have the chance to meet the farmer’s face to face. You have the opportunity to ask them about their farming practices, what they animals eat, how they control pests and weeds, etc. Just beware though, because NOT EVERYTHING AT A FARMER’S MARKET WILL BE RAISED WELL. You will always get fresh food, but it still may be swimming in pesticides and fed GMO corn. Don’t be afraid to ask. The farmers that do have great farming practices are proud to tell you what they do to take care of their animals and crops. They’ve worked hard and LOVE to talk about it! I’ve met some great farmers and have built great relationships with my farmers that supply my meat, eggs, and milk.
Trader Joes/Whole Foods/Health Food Stores
Yes, it is true that these stores will sell many items that you may be seeking. I love having these fairly close (15-20 minutes away), but honestly I don’t rely on these stores. Even 20 minutes away when you have small children navigating through very busy annoying stores can be very stressful. The main thing I get at Trader Joes now is Kerrygold butter because they have a great price for it as well as raw milk cheeses, full fat organic yogurt when I don’t make my own, sprouted bread when I don’t make my own, and organic free range chickens when I don’t have a good local source. Truthfully I may go there about once every few months now. Plus Whole Foods is way too expensive for me to go there every week. My budget does not thank me after a Whole Foods trip.
You can find just about anything on Amazon these days, and healthy food is no exception. Everything from baking goods like rapadura to jarred tomatoes it’s a great source for those of you who don’t have access to health food stores of organic food in your local grocery store. Plus, I like to redeem my Swagbucks point for Amazon gift cards to cut costs a little bit more.
If you like buying in bulk, Azure Standard is for you! From their website: “We specialize in natural, organic, earth-friendly foods and products. We deliver directly to customers, buying clubs and retailers by semi truck and UPS.” You basically shop from home and they deliver. They have lots of bulk organic cheese, grains, beans, nuts, baking goods, produce, etc. I recently got an account and can’t wait to use this resource more.
Grow Your Own
Ultimately we are trying to become more and more self-reliant. Right now we have a fairly large garden and we are learning how to preserve more and more food each year. I would also LOVE to get some chickens and goats in the upcoming years to supply eggs, chicken, and milk for all of my dairy products. ::Sigh:: One day…
Regardless of where you live, growing your own is always a great option. I encourage everyone to try at least one thing. I’ve seen city apartment dwellers grow food on their roofs, in their windows, in pots on balconies, in gutters, vertically on trellises, etc. People can get so creative with amazing results. It’s such a fun process to see something go from a seed in some dirt to something edible and delicious.
Other online Suppliers
This is certainly not a comprehensive list. Just some that I am aware of.
Most importantly, ask around! Once you find one good source, ask them if they know more. You will be amazed at the world you never knew existed beyond the grocery store.
Remember, don’t get caught up in perfection. It becomes overwhelming and can quickly become an idol and obsession in your life. Make baby steps by swapping out one new thing at a time. Let the process be fun and not a chore or drudgery.
Any other places to add to the list? Leave it in the comments below!
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