Transitioning to a high-quality, whole foods diet is complex. It’s more time consuming, expensive, and overwhelming than the standard way to shop for groceries: you go to the closest store with the best prices that carries everything you need.
As you start to pay attention to food labels, food quality, and where your food comes from, you’ll likely find that your current shopping habits don’t align with your new focus on nutrition. Finding one store where you can purchase quality meats, sustainable seafood, and local produce is likely impossible unless you live near a Whole Foods. The stress of figuring it all out is enough to make you say “Whatever. I’m getting cheese fries.”
In response to the growing focus on quality food (thanks millennials!), there are various options available to stock your fridge and pantry. Whether they are online or in your neighborhood, here are three kinds of grocery suppliers that make a great health-focused team.
For the Staples: Go-To Grocery Chain or Thrive Market
Your local grocery chains are still an excellent resource for most pantry staples, and many offer organic produce, quality meat, wild seafood, and pasture-raised eggs. The pickings may be slim, but check out the various grocery stores closest to you to find the location that has the best selection of quality food that you buy regularly. Many stores have dedicated “natural” aisles that house their organic and local products.
If your local grocery store options are lacking, I suggest checking out Thrive Market. They’re an online market for high quality, non-perishable staples and recently launched a meat and seafood line. It’s like Costco and Whole Foods had a baby. You get discounted prices on the brands you would typically find at Whole Foods, plus Thrive has an affordable private label brand that includes crowd favorites like nuts, coconut oil, grain-free granola, and much more.
For the Meats: A Local Butcher or Online Meat Delivery Service
A quick “butcher near me” Google search will help locate any local butchers in your area. Butchers are a great resource for local, quality meat and they have a wider range of options than a traditional grocery store. I’ve also found the staff at butchers to be incredibly passionate about food, which is a major plus. The same goes for local seafood markets if you live near the water.
If you don’t have any butchers or seafood markets near you, there are some online services to consider. ButcherBox and US Wellness Meats will deliver grass-fed, pasture-raised meats to your door, and VitalChoice offers wild seafood. You can often find first-time customer deals online. Again, Google is your #1 friend here. Get those deals.
For the Produce: A Local Farmers Market or CSA
Farmers markets are a great way to support local farms and find seasonal produce at affordable prices. The USDA has a directory where you can find farmers markets near you. Strolling through farmers markets on a Sunday is much preferred to battling grocery cart traffic in harsh lighting.
Your local community may also have a CSA (community supported agriculture). CSA programs allow city residents to have direct access to high quality, fresh produce grown locally by regional farmers. When you become a member of a CSA, you’re purchasing a “share” of vegetables from a regional farmer. For a few extra dollars a week, some CSAs allow you to add fruit, eggs, meat, and flowers to your order. The USDA also has a directory for local CSAs to help find one in your area.
It’s worth exploring your options to find the best sources for your food. How you mix-and-match these food suppliers will vary based on your priorities: cost, convenience, and quality. Find the options that work best for your lifestyle and budget, and enjoy the relationships you make along the way with your local food suppliers.