I Can’t Find Healthy or Organic Foods Where I Live! {No More Excuses}

I live in a small town in rural Nebraska. I am surrounded by smaller towns, and tiny towns, and lots and lots of big, huge corn fields. We can drive to Lincoln to a Trader Joes in one hour, or to Omaha to a Whole Foods store in two hours. Neither of those options is convenient since we don’t make trips to Lincoln or Omaha very often.

Therefore, I just assumed that eating healthy foods would be out of the question for our family. Where was I supposed to buy high quality food without having to drive 100 miles to go shopping? And then, would I even be able to afford the food at those specialty stores?

For our family – thinking outside the box when it comes to finding healthy food resources has been a very good idea. There are healthy food options all around us – we just had to go about our grocery shopping adventure a lot differently than what we considered to be “normal”. We do purchase a few items at our local grocery stores and at Walmart – like bananas, clementines, and a few other organic produce items that they might carry occasionally. Otherwise, here is how our family now purchases groceries:

We order from a health food co-op.

Azure Standard has been wonderful for us. We order online once a month, then pick up our food when it is delivered right here in town. Their prices are unbelievably good. I encourage you to look into joining a health food co-op as a way to find whole foods at a reasonable price. If Azure Standard doesn’t deliver to your area, look through all the comments on this post to learn of a health food co-op option that might be available where you live.

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Here’s a sample of what our food co-op order looks like.

We order food online.

Ordering groceries online has been an incredible help and money saver for us. Not only has this been super convenient, it saves us money and gives us all kinds of wonderful whole food options – right at our fingertips. And having groceries delivered to our front porch – it does not get any easier than that! Tropical Traditions, VitaCost, Mountain Rose Herbs, Cultures for Health, and Amazon
are our favorite go-to online resources. We watch for sales and free shipping deals, and have learned the best way to get good prices while shopping online.  Here is a detailed list of what food we purchase from each of these online resources.

We buy food from local farmers.

We are blessed to have friends and farmers around us who raise animals in a way we appreciate (grass fed, free range, no hormones or antibiotics, etc). Our eggs, milk, beef, lamb, and chicken all come from sources close-by. North Star Neighbors is located a bit far away compared to our milk and eggs sources, but our town happens to be right on their delivery route. Yep, for a small delivery fee, North Star Neighbors delivers meat right to our doorstep. We pick up our milk and eggs once a week from friends. In addition, we take advantage of our farmer’s market each summer and fall. If you’re looking for local healthy food options, I encourage you to check out LocalHarvest.org to see what resources are available where you live. Also, start asking around to others who you find are interested in healthy eating to see what their food sources are. You might get a few crazy stares from people, but hey, you might also find out who sells raw milk or grass fed beef in your area!

We grow food in our own garden.

Our garden provides us with green beans, tomatoes (for sauce and soup), peppers, potatoes, corn, and a variety of other yummy foods that are simple to preserve. Also, if we don’t have space to grow something, but others around us do, we aren’t afraid to make a trade or work out some sort of deal in exchange for picking some produce in their garden or on their fruit trees. Again, it never hurts to ask! Often, we get garden/tree produce for free when people have an abundance. Then, we get to work, canning, freezing and dehydrating all the produce. Here are all of my posts detailing what and how we preserve foods.

We work with our local grocery stores to special order food.

Have I mentioned that it never hurts to ask? In the past, we’ve talked to our local grocer about special ordering cases of food for us, and they’ve been happy to accomodate. They have even given us a good deal on these purchases since they know that since we’re buying the entire case, none of that food will spoil on the shelves.

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As always, remember that we are all different, our food sources are all different, and we all have different family sizes and budget amounts. We’re all on the same team here, just looking for ways to encourage one another on our healthy eating journeys

What are the best healthy food options where you live? Have you found ways to think outside the box when it comes to whole food purchases?

Comments

  1. says

    I used to think that local/quality food was not an option in my town either! The Lord is providing and my friends and I are slowly and surely finding more and more. We split 5 gallon buckets of local honey, local cows, pick up local/raw goat milk for one another. Turns out our doula is raising chickens for eating and eggs along with goats! My husband’s family is friends with some people that raise wonderful lamb which my In-laws gifted us for Christmas.
    Our farmers’ market is still waaaay over-priced so I am hoping that I won’t kill my garden again this year. ;)

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  2. Diana Farley says

    oh thank you so much for writing about all of this:) i have learned so much! we are a whole foods family. we get our beef, eggs, and pork from our daughters farm. we are so blessed and thankful that she does this for us. and azure is just wonderful we use it also. thank you again for all of the information i learned so many new things from this.
    diana

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  3. says

    We did many of the things you mention in the states…we are currently assigned in Northern Japan and are very limited in what is available on the market….We’ve discovered online organic shopping…..you find a way to make it work. Thanks for the article.

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  4. says

    We are your neighbors, just across the state line to the east. Like you, I used to think buying fresh, organic food was impossible. I knew there were Farmer’s Markets where I lived, but I used their high prices as an excuse not to buy real food.

    Then two months ago I attended a presentation put on by the state extension office about small family farms in MY area. Wow! I was blown away and my passion was ignited! I started making some calls, doing some networking, and suddenly I realized there is a whole “grocery store” right outside my door!

    I drive 20 minutes once a week for 5 dozen eggs (we have a large family). I drive once a week for 4 gallons of fresh (often fresh that very morning!) goat’s milk. I buy chickens and pastured pork lard from a farmer right outside my town. From this same farmer, I will get a CSA basket starting very soon. And this week I finally found honey! Only a 10 minute drive away. A farm about 40 minutes away produces all kinds of foods that I am looking into next. And today I’m calling to join a food coop that is right here in town.

    My point is, I grow a lot and what I can’t find, is surprisingly often right in my own backyard! For those of us in small, rural areas, we really have no excuse! :)

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  5. LeAnna says

    We just LOVE Azure Standard! So thankful they started a route here, it’s been such a blessing. Love the comminity of our co-op, too. We’re able to buy large bunches of things, and share with one another, making the cost even lower. Great article!

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  6. Jennifer says

    I wanted to let people know if they are in the Midwest Country Life foods might be an option. http://www.clnf.org/

    We have tried really hard to incorporate healthier foods into our lives. We buy raw milk from a farmer we know, I get eggs from someone a couple of streets over. We buy most of our items at the local farmers market in the summer.Talking to people at the farmers market gave me a contact for Chicken and local beef. And our winter lettuce is now from a CSA that I just joined.

    Ask around to see what you can find and check Craigslist also!

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  7. Dee says

    I’ve been wanting to place an order through Azure Standard, and they recently came to my area. My question is, will anyone help carry heavy items to your vehicle for you? My husband works all the time and drives over and hour and half to work, so him being able to help pick up an order is out of the question, and there is no way I can juggle our young kids and carry 25 pound bags of flour or other heavy bulk items. That dilemma is what has been keeping me from placing an order, as silly as that sounds :-)

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    Kris Mays Reply:

    Dee, this is never a problem. The driver moves it with a hand truck to a convenient area and there are always people to help. Very large orders can be loaded truck to truck,if necessary.

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    Dee Reply:

    Thanks a bunch! Its good to know I was worrying for nothing :-)

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  8. says

    What you are doing is the best solution for healthy foods. Growing your own and getting food from sources that you know handle the food properly is the key to getting healthy food. Just because a food is labelled healthy on the package does not mean that it is healthy.

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  9. says

    @ Dee – Our group always has men and women to help carry big items. I am sure someone will be there to help. If there really isn’t anyone to help, I am sure the driver would help you. I don’t think it’s in there job description but they are very nice people. At least our drivers are.

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  10. says

    This post was an eye opener for me — I forgot how blessed I was, to have a BOUNTY of resources for organic/healthy/farm raised food in my area. We have farmer’s markets galore, our local stores carry organic produce and meats, and we even rely on friends/family to share their harvest.

    Great tips!

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  11. Tituslady says

    We are blessed here with what we have. We have Earth Fare which really isn’t my cup of tea with their Earth worship philosophy, but it is the only organic grocery store around. Please pray I can grow our garden this spring/summer! We have the land, and seeds and everything to do it..I just have to try not to kill it or have a really bad crop! We buy our grassfed beef from a farmer! And we are goin to start shopping the farmer’s market about 40 mintues away that has great eggs and produce! Also learning to cook from scratch is going to help our bill some to. I HAVE to quit being lazy and start baking my own bread! It’s rediciulous my husband spends 5 dollars a loaf on organic bread! Just little things like that will help a lot! And growing our own is going to save so much!

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    mml Reply:

    try the book ‘Healthy Bread In Five Minutes a Day’ – LOVE IT!!!- and it really
    only takes 5 minutes to make the bread- The recipes are for no-knead, whole grain
    breads, bagels, pizza crusts, etc…

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  12. Jen says

    It is SO worth the time it takes to seek out healthy food for your family. I started with meat. My husband drives about 2 hours, once a year, to pick up 1/2 grass fed beef, 1 whole pastured pig, and 12 pastured chickens. The farmers we buy from are small and we love supporting the fact that they are raising meat the right way. We also get lots of liver and bones for making stock.

    It took me a while to find raw milk, but when I did I hit the jackpot! Turns out there is a local, organic delivery service that picks it up from the Amish farmer and delivers to my door every week. The delivery service offers many local, organic foods. I purchase my honey, maple syrup, pastured eggs, raw milk, and some produce from them. They also offer many quality grass fed and pastured meats, but we’ve found it cheaper to purchase in bulk once a year directly from the farms. I order online every week, and the delivery service drives around the local area to various farms to pick everything up.

    Azure Standard recently began delivering nearby, and I’ve ordered twice from them. We also shop at the health food store right around the corner. Finally, we round out our purchases with a trip to Trader Joe’s every 3 weeks or so. It is near my husband’s work, so he does the shopping there.

    My advice is just start looking around for farms and co-ops, and begin purchasing one or two items. It took me about a year to totally transition into shopping alternatively for our food. I know one thing. I sure do not miss the grocery stores!

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    Laurie Reply:

    are you in the Cincinnati area? I ask because your situation sounds exactly like mine, and I was wondering if you are around here, where your Azure pick up is? Sorry if you are somewhere else!

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    Dee Reply:

    Are you talking about Green Bean Delivery? I’m in the Indianapolis area where they started (under the name Farm Fresh Delivery), and I know they branched out to Ohio and Kentucky over the past few years. I only ask because raw milk is not offered in our area, but since my mom lives in Cincinnati and drives over to visit a few times a month I could have it delivered to her house to bring over to me. Sorry for being nosy, just wandering if it’s Green Bean Delivery that you’re using :-)

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    Laurie Reply:

    Nope. In Ohio, raw milk can only be bought through a herd share program, so your mom would need to sign up with a local farm to have milk delivered. It’s basically a coop, and legally you “own” part of the herd, so you get a part of the milk. There is one associated with my CSA in Hillsboro, but you can find others online. They’re not cheap! Hope this helps.

    Jen Reply:

    Dee, if you are asking me, my delivery service is not Green Bean Delivery. We do have a herd share with the farmer, that is also completed through the delivery service.

    Jen Reply:

    Laurie, I’m in Northwest Indiana (near Chicago). My Azure pick-up is in Joliet.

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    Beth Reply:

    Can you tell me how to be able to order for the Joliet pick-up?

  13. says

    We order from Azure Standard as well as various online sources — mostly Amazon. I’ve also just found a great source for free range chickens and grass fed beef on Craig’s List! Look in the farm and garden section — a hobby farmer within a 15 minute drive! Just put 13 chickens in our freezer and he will let us know when he butchers the beef this fall!

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  14. Lisa says

    We are very fortunate because Azure Standard delivers to our area once a WEEK! One of the delivery drivers lives in town so that’s why we are able to do this. He just brings everybody’s orders for the week and then continues on his route! It’s really nice. I don’t order every week, but it’s usually every two weeks or so.

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  15. says

    Azure Standard is a great resource. The people at the company are great to work with. I order monthly just a few items but Laura, I’m going to check into some of those items you suggested. Their Heirloom Evermore seeds are great. They all came up when I planted them in the house. The truck arrives near my home so it’s very convenient in this city with one-way streets. Thank you.

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  16. says

    I suspect I get my Azure order about a half hour after you! I have about a 45 minute to the Lincoln Trader Joe’s but don’t get to Whole Foods very often. Seven families in our town take turns running for milk at a farm half way between Lincoln and Omaha.
    Have you tried Open Harvest in Lincoln? If not check out their website!

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