All-natural. Non-GMO. Fair trade. Free-range. Keeping track of all the labels that accompany our food choices and what they mean can be enough to make you throw your hands up and just get a pizza delivered. The simplest way to ensure your food’s quality and freshness is to focus on two designations: organic and local. Organic foods are those produced with sustainable farming practices and without the use of pesticides or synthetic chemicals, while local foods are those grown close to where they are sold, meaning less transportation-related pollution, a boost to the local economy and maximum freshness. Here we’ve gathered farms and stores that bring you the best in the Valley.
River Market Community Co-op
In addition to providing customers with organic produce, meat and wellness products, this 38-year-old co-op offers classes on topics from beekeeping to holistic weight management. Hours: 8 a.m.–9 p.m. daily
Spiral Natural Foods
All of the milk sold at this neighborhood co-op is produced locally, and the store is a destination for those seeking organic foods that fit their gluten-free or vegan diets. Hours: 9 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Sat., 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun.
Fresh and Natural Food
A full-service grocer specializing in natural and organic foods with a catering menu featuring fresh, local ingredients. Hours: 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Sun.
Eduardo Rivera focuses on expanding the Latino community’s access to organic produce, growing cilantro, tomatillos and seven varieties of hot peppers on his farm. “A lot of people don’t have enough, so some of our CSA members pay a little extra or donate money to help people in need.” Where to find: Midtown Farmers Market, Mississippi Market, Seward Co-op
10th Street Farm and Market
Run by a mother-and-daughter team, this small family farm aims to “connect the consumer with the land and the farmers providing their food,” co-owner Hallie Talbott says. Their organically grown microgreens, kale, eggplant and heirloom tomatoes are available via a CSA or at their cash-only farm stand. Where to find: River Market Co-op, Spiral Natural Foods, Domain Restaurant
Big River Farms
An organic vegetable farm operated by the Minnesota Food Association to provide a market for and to train immigrants, refugees and minorities to be successful organic farmers. Where to find: Seward Co-op, West Side Farmers Market, Peace Coffee
October is National Co-op Month, so now is the perfect time to learn more about the benefits of co-op membership. For more on great food in the Valley, check out our Restaurants section on local apple orchards and fall-related events.