sourcing ingredients

Need A Little Help Sourcing Healthy Food?

You’ve just read a great article, watched an inspiring video or listened to an amazing pod cast about real, healthy food and you are excited to incorporate this new found knowledge into your life.

Awesome!

Well, yes… and… no.

Now you have to go through the work of actually procuring the ingredient or food and just jaunting down to the local grocery probably isn’t gonna do it for you.

You wouldn’t think this should be so difficult. It’s good, healthy, food. Shouldn’t it be everywhere?

You would think so, but the reality is, even if you live next door to Whole Foods Market, you are still going to have to channel your inner Nancy Drew and do some sleuthing.

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CLOSE TO HOME

The closer you can get to the source of your food the better. Make it a fun hobby to search out and stop at roadside stands, farms, and farmer’s markets of all sizes. A simple drive down a country lane may lead to a great undiscovered treasure. These farmers and artisans are your people! Talk with them. Learn what they have to offer. Form relationships. Ask questions.

Is this grown organically or made with organic ingredients?

We live in an age of governmental oversight. Certified organic growers have gone to a lot of trouble to be able to make this claim about their product but many other farmers grow this way too, they just can’t advertise it because they can’t or don’t wish to jump through hoops and deal with red tape. Never assume an unlabeled product is or isn’t organic. Ask.

Did you grow or make this yourself?

Seems like a silly question, right? You would be surprised at the amount of food at farmer’s markets that was shipped in from elsewhere. It helps to be familiar with what grows, and when, in your area. Watermelons in May in Michigan? It’s not the end of the world if they didn’t grow it themselves, but do they, the seller, know the grower and are they both trustworthy? You want to make sure you’re getting what you think you’re getting.

Do you know where I can find…?

A good farmer wants to help you. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, chances are they know someone who does or, at least, will be able to give you a directional lead. Networking can lead to a goldmine of information. I have a ton of farmer friends and if I don’t have what you’re looking for, I love to give shout outs to my friends who do.

Would you ever consider growing or making…?

Farmers and artisans can’t do it all but it never hurts to ask. If there is enough demand there is a great chance your farmer will consider adding it to his or her offerings. A lot of customers asked for green beans this year. We’re going to look into this for next season.

I also get a lot of questions on fermentation. Under Michigan Cottage Food Laws, I am not allowed to sell fermented food unless I use a commercial kitchen, but I am studying and perfecting techniques so I can teach others how to do it for themselves.

A LITTLE FURTHER AWAY

After trying your local growers, it may be time to check your local brick and mortar establishments.

  • Costco: The top organic food retailer with substantially lower prices then competitors. They sell a great tart cherry kombucha.

  • Trader Joes: Their private label products supposedly contain no antibiotics, preservatives or synthetic colors. They claim not to sell GMO foods.

  • Whole Foods: Organic products, bulk foods, GMO labeling program, large selection. Alas, one does not exsist in West Michigan.

  • Local healthfood stores: Smaller versions of the big guys, generally with better customer service. I love our local, West Michigan chain, Harvest Health Foods.

  • Standard grocery chains: With organics trending, even your most standard grocery will have at least a small selection of organics and health/wellness products. Meijer stores have really upped their game in wellness supplements and probiotics.

  • Local specialty/Gourmet shops: For hard to find or imported cheeses, breads, meats, herbs, oils, etc.; The Cheese Lady in downtown Grand Rapids, Kismet Bakery in Allegan County, and Peter’s Gourmet Market in Grandville’s River Town area.

GO SURFING

  • Thrive Market: A membership-based internet retailer offering natural and organic food products. Their mission is “to make healthy living easy and affordable.” That being said we’ve been able to shop around and find better prices on most products.

  • Amazon: If it exists (legally) then you can probably find it here.

  • Etsy: I have found this “craft” selling sight to be a great place for sourdough and scoby starters as well as wildcrafted herbs. Spend some time searching on this site. You may be surprised by what you find, but keep on task, lots of creative rabbit holes to go down. (Linen bread bags anyone… I was drooling.)

  • Ebay: More utilitarian than Etsy but still full of options

  • Google: This is the best way to find small growers, herbalists and artisans both local and around the globe. What did we do before the internet?

Still coming up empty?

DIY

If you’ve done the research and you still can’t find what you want, at a price you want, then it might be time to Do It Yourself. Maybe you need to be the one to grow it, bake it, ferment it or wild craft it. It can be very empowering to add a little DIY to your day! And who knows, maybe you’ll create a profitable side hustle.

Here are some great ideas for DIY:

  • Kombucha from a kit

  • Yogurt in an instapot

  • Sourdough from a wild yeast starter

  • Cheese kits

  • Mushroom logs/kits

With a great local class or the internet by your side there isn’t too much you can’t do! You may not want to do these things on a regular basis, but it is powerful to know you can and it’s really fun to learn new things.

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Do you have something you’re longing to learn or obtain? Let me know and I’ll see if I can’t make it happen! Even if we have to learn together!

Bloom and Grow,

Cyndi