I was asked recently, “How can I buy organic foods if I live in a rural area?” My friend was concerned that she was destined to only purchase frozen or canned items because she didn’t live near a Trader Joe’s or a Whole Foods Market. This prompted me to think it might be a question that my readers might have as well. So, here is a list of 7 Ways to Find Organic Foods in Rural Areas –
1. Buy local produce at a Farmer’s Market. Many rural areas have great farmer’s markets, or even fruit/vegetable stands that you can purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables. When you get to know your local growers, you can ask them specifically if they have used any pesticides in their growing process. I can remember as a child that every summer we would look forward to buying fresh corn from a stand near our home; at the time we lived in a town of about 25,000 people.
2. Look for local food co-ops in your area. You can simply google your county and “food co-op” or ask at farmer’s markets to find out where to sign up for a regular box of fresh foods. The box may contain only fruits and vegetables, or in some co-ops you can even find fresh meats and seafood.
3. Check out delivery companies. For example, Schwan’s LiveSmart program, offers foods that have been minimally processed. They may not be true organic options, but at least you can minimize the amount of pesticides and processing.
4. Look for sources of vegetarian feed eggs. You might want to visit local farmers in your area to find an egg source. Vegetarian feed eggs are great because they don’t feed grains to their chickens (eliminating gluten issues) and they usually have the added benefit of added Omega 3’s in each egg. I have found these at Costco here in Southern California; I’m not sure if they are selling them nationwide in Costco stores, so check for them!
5. Get to know your local butcher and/or seafood market. Many small towns and cities have local meat and/or seafood markets which can be a good source of minimally processed foods. Surprisingly, you can often save money at these markets as well.
6. Order a half-cow from a local rancher. This can seem a bit expensive up front, but if you have a large freezer, you can really save over the long haul on having high-quality, organic meat in your freezer for the next 6 months – year. If this seems overwhelming to you financially, consider sharing the cost with another family as each family can still purchase a large amount of high-quality meat. Most purchases will include the packaging of meat into different cuts as well as ground beef.
7. Remember which items are really critical to buy as organic. You don’t have to purchase everything organic as many fruits and vegetables are perfectly fine to purchase as non-organic. Get to know the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists and spend the majority of your money and efforts finding the items that are on the Dirty Dozen list.
Some additional resources for finding places to purchase organic foods include –
Local Harvest (a searchable list of co-ops, farmers markets, etc.)
US Department of Agriculture (offers lists of farmer’s markets around the US)
Farm Fresh to You (an online service that will deliver organic produce to your doorstep)
Greensbury Market (an online service for purchasing organic meats, delivered to your home)