Why you should shop at your local natural foods store

I love going to the local natural foods store!

We patron the Spice of Life Natural Foods Market in Skowhegan.  As far as grocery shopping goes, it’s a real treat to walk down the isles of ethnic and organic foods, to see the rows of spices and herbs, the organic teas, the bags of nuts and seeds to buy in bulk, the different kinds of dried beans and fruits, flours and rices, oats, and locally produced vegetables.

It makes so much more sense to me to buy at the natural foods store–not only is it cheaper to buy things like nuts and dried fruits in bulk, natural foods storebut typically the products you get at the natural foods store are fresher than they would be if you bought them at the supermarket or the big box store.  Also, the owners of natural foods stores, tend to be driven more by principle than profit, and because of that they chose to stock their shelves with products that are better for the environment.  Not all of the food or products are organic, but virtually all of it is devoid of synthetic chemical additives, and minimally processed.

dried herbs

Dried minced onion stored in a recycled Smucker’s jam jar.

Buying dried herbs and spices at the natural foods store is the height of shopping for me–it must be because I am a sensory person–because the fragrances really speak to me. I love opening up a jar of a wonderfully potent and aromatic herb or spice and inhaling deeply the smell of it. Financially it makes so much more sense to buy your herbs by the pound at the natural foods store versus paying the insane prices the supermarket charges for those tiny plastic bottles of stale spices. What’s more, you can take your little bags of herbs and spices home and store them in reusable glass containers, which not only keeps them fresher longer, but is better for the environment too.

free range chicken

While we do eat some vegetarian meals and have days when we don’t eat meat at all, we’re not vegetarian.  But buying your meats from local farmers who raise their animals using organic or sustainable methods is a choice alternative to conventional meats.  Typically the meat products you find at the supermarket are grown on factory farms, and is often loaded with toxic chemicals such as pesticides, growth hormones, artificial food additives, tranquilizers, antibiotics or disease-causing organisms.  You can find organic meat products at most health food stores, and if they don’t–chances are they’ll be able to provide information on local farms where you can get what you need.

A wide variety of health and beauty products are available at natural food stores too; natural soapssuch as toothpaste, shampoo, make-up, skin creams, deodorant, soap, moisturizers and more.  “Natural” manufacturers use plant-based ingredients in their products rather than synthetic chemical ingredients.  What’s more, you can get natural supplements and healing remedies at the natural foods store.  Everything from naturally produced vitamins and herbal supplements, to holistic healing remedies.

Natural foods stores are even a valuable educational resource–especially when you’re just learning to live sustainably.  Often you can find classes or workshops to sign up for to learn new cooking methods, or seminars on health issues, supplements and alternative therapies.  And staff members at natural foods stores are typically friendly and–since they themselves have embraced the natural living lifestyle–are generally dedicated to helping their customers learn what they need to know as they transition intoa more natural lifestyle.

There are lots of great reasons why you should shop at your local natural foods store, but you don’t have to take my word for it–venture to your nearest local foods store to see for yourself!

Share your thoughts, comments or questions!