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How Do I Find Natural Food?

September 20, 2012

What is “natural” to you? If you ask ten of your friends what is natural, would all have the same perspective and answers? “Natural” is represented to be unspoiled, unconfined, unaltered,and yet that may or may not be the entire truth. For example, our chickens eat just layer pellets and occasional scraps, sometimes some grain – pretty much as heritage breeds have done for over 100 years. Is that natural? Many say no if there’s corn that is GMO in the feed. Others say yes – it’s just corn.

So the question was posed:

What would it take to get more natural (meaning unprocessed) food into supermarkets? I’ve been trying to eat only foods in which I recognize the ingredients on the label, and it’s surprisingly hard. Any thoughts on how to address this problem?

Now those who have read our blog for a while know we’re big on food choices. This includes not infringing on other food choices. So nailing down natural here could keep lawyers busy for decades. Shouldn’t it be easier? We think so! The question posed is valid! It’s also defined – seeking unprocessed food. On one hand, someone cynical could say ‘they’ want processed food without processed ingredients, but I think it’s commendable that the person (who I don’t know so I hope he/she visits here!) reads labels available and is taking control of his/her food choices! Minimally processed products are available, but not always in the volume or variety that folks with food choices want. That is a problem!

Grocery stores thrive on volume. A typical nutshell description from Kroger:

The grocery business is highly competitive. Kroger typically earns just pennies on the dollar. These razor-sharp margins make the retail environment challenging for all suppliers. Kroger stores typically carry 40,000 – 50,000 items. Competition for shelf space is intense. Customer acceptance, as demonstrated by sales, is used to measure product performance and retention.

These things all point to competition and price. They need someone that can deliver x number of cartons of eggs every week, no excuses – and with the required testing and information needed. Most small places cannot afford to get a foot in the door at grocery stores, so you don’t hear from us or the things we produce. Because of that competition for shelf space, they need things that SELL – not just what people say they want but what SELLS. Slow sales mean getting dropped for something else looking for precious space.

Safeway’s website goes a bit further. Yes, they have limited space but carry things folks say they want. They also have information on their website for those folks *not* familiar with fresh herbs, seasonal eating and such to drive demand to what they have.

Farmer’s Markets are also intensely competitive and offer an array of products that are minimally processed. These are farmers that may not have quite the volume or opportunity to get into grocery stores. There are other options in other areas, and hearing questions like this is what spurred us to doing the custom food shares – where people do have the variety of foods, minimally processed and with transparency into how and where it’s grown. We’ll deliver to a few pick up points in Nashville, Tennessee, and several other cities in a ‘hub’ around our target land. Like the ‘days of old’ when the milkman made deliveries, we’ll bring produce, meats and other goodies direct to your door.

Smaller operations don’t have the advertising budget of the larger operations, but are on sites like Pick-A-Pepper and SmallFarmCoOp.com – and you can post *looking* for direct sale places on either or on sites like Craigslist. Do your homework – unfortunately there are many scammers out there seeking to make a grocery run that you could do yourself…but those who grow their produce are usually very interested in good customers and helping you get the most of your time there.

For those in the cities that rely on the grocery store, a general guide is shop around the outside, but that is somewhat changing as stores redesign. There is a reason why you must go to the back of the store to get a carton of eggs or gallon of milk – all those *other* thousands of items you must pass. If you want to avoid GMO products, check out the Non GMO project – although we don’t like the ‘fear factor’ claims, they have a concise and easy to follow way to find brands that are at grocery stores and allow food choices.

In short, if you want more options in produce or artisan type things, prepare to deal with larger versions of both if at the grocery store, or seek out those folks you can buy from direct. They’re out there in many communities, many on social media. Don’t give up – if folks want something enough to pay for it there are folks out here to grow it and get it to you.

Food choices rock!!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 20, 2012 9:05 AM

    Food choices DO rock and the only way we’ll get them is to seek them out and vote with our dollars! Thanks for the post!

    • September 20, 2012 5:24 PM

      Agree! Places like us depend on food choices. I don’t think it means others are *bad* – it’s just one choice that we, and others, make use of. Thanks for commenting & visiting!

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