Having decided to go all organic in our eating, you’d think that shopping would be just a matter of finding out where to buy organic food and simply walking into an organic store and making selections from shelves piled high and refrigerated containers chock full of every last organic product you might wish for. Unfortunately, it’s not always so easy.
Are you an organic food purist?
Even if you want only organic food, there may not be an organic market near you, or your local organic market may have a limited selection or — as is sometimes the case with organic markets — everything available at your organic market may not be "100% organic". Unfortunately, "100% organic" is not just something to put on a label; it’s the USDA’s top designation for organic products, and everything labeled "organic" but not "100% organic" denotes a lower percentage of organic content. (See our organic label chart.)
This difficulty in obtaining all the wholly-organic products you might wish for may leave you with having to choose products that are less organic than you’d wish. That is, you may find yourself having to select from foods that aren’t "100% organic" but are certainly far better than conventionally-grown foods. Or body care products that are not entirely organic, but don’t contain known toxic ingredients.
I’m not trying to talk you out of eating all organic all the time; I’m just stating that we don’t live in an all organic world, and one has to eat.
As a side note, one might wonder why organic stores don’t limit their offerings to organic products only — until one learns that not everything is available (or readily available) as an organic product. I’ve heard it argued that, where organic items of one type or another are not available, organic markets might carry their non-organic counterparts rather than leave their shelves fairly bare and risk losing customers. I imagine there may be some truth in that; if so, I’d say that there’s more value in having these stores keep their doors open than in an insistence on all-organic stocks, although it pays for us as consumers to understand what we’re getting and what the various labels really mean. And I’m hoping that the purist wish to have easy access to all-organic products comes sooner rather than later — and that farmers increasingly see the value to themselves, as well as to the rest of us, in going organic and doing what they have to do to get their products out there to consumers.
Where to buy organic food
- Organic Markets — if you’re lucky enough to have organic markets in your area, they’re one obvious place to obtain organic foods. Just read the labels.
- Farmers Markets — local farmers markets are often attended by farmers whose products are certified USDA Organic. You may also find farmers who are mid- getting their organic certification, and others yet who grow organically but are not wanting to go through whatever it takes to get the organic certification, as well as farmers who grow conventional food only. Ask them whether their food is organic.
- Local Farmers — farmers in your locality may be producing organic meats, dairy products or vegetables. You may find some great values here. In some locales that have banned organic whatever, you may be able to purchase them legally direct from the farm; check your area and the rules that may apply. For milk, see Where can I find real milk? at realmilk.com. Tip: when you find a local farmer who sells organic food, get his business card, and call him to ask what he’s got and when he’s going to be where. It pays to know!
- Family, Friends and Associates — if you’re like us, you may be surprised that family members, friends and associates are "into" organic food too, and they may be able to steer you towards good markets and other sources of organic foods. We’re all in this together — sharing is a good thing.
- Internet Search Engines — you can find a lot if you use search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN.com. With search engines, it pays to be specific. For instance, take a look at this Google search for "raw organic milk California".
- Websites — some websites have lists of organic markets. Or, you can hop from one website to another, following the trail until you find what you’re looking for.
- Organic Gardening — this may not be your "thing" but, if it is, it’s one way to get delicious produce.
These are just the sources of organic food that I can think of off the top of my head. If you know of any other generic sources, please post a comment below!
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