Tofu, you can buy anywhere. But sausages, chocolate, coffee, and milk — these, you should really buy in a health food store!

If this was being published in a peer-reviewed journal, there’d need to be an “author conflict of interest declaration” at the end… Well, fortunately for us, it’s being published in the Debra’s Natural Gourmet newsletter. So allow us to declare this top-ten list perfectly objective, and without bias! Ahem…

  1. Herbs and spices. First, there’s the issue of quality and freshness, and the fact that our herbs are not irradiated. 95% are also organic. And in the bulk drawers, you can open them up, smell them, really sense that they’re fresh… You can buy as little or as much as you want. And it’s so much less expensive vs. those little glass jars in the supermarket. (Related: bulk foods in general)
  2. Coffee. There really are still slaves out there. Think about that: slaves. Child slaves. Harvesting coffee. Our local roasters have direct relationships with farm cooperatives, and pay above and beyond a fair living wage. So: no slaves. Plus, our direct relationships with local roasters means a fresher bean for you. (Similar: chocolate)
  3. Cold cuts and deli meats. Salami, sausages… Hands down, the natural stuff is just better.  I mean, taste-wise. I challenge anything from Hormel or Oscar Meyer to even hold a candle to a Niman Ranch or Applegate product. (related: all meats, really)
  4. Organic milk. Yes, I said “organic.” Sure, you can buy organic milk in supermarkets as well. And some of it really is good. But a lot of it is from industrial dairies that squeak by – barely – as organic in name, but never in spirit. See the delightfully muckraking rating system from Cornucopia for more information. (Related: eggs)
  5.  Bodycare. We care about what we put in our bodies. But what about what we put on our bodies? The skin is our largest organ, and it absorbs things. (related: candles with natural waxes, and natural scents)
  6. Sauerkraut and Pickles.  Truly fermented sauerkraut is a living food full of healthy bacteria, just like yogurt is. This is the crisp fresh refrigerated stuff, as opposed to the shelf-stable flaccid neon-camouflage-beige-yellow stuff you normally see. Health: check. Awesomeness: check. (related: sprouted breads)
  7. Vitamins and herbs and fish oils, etc. Unless you really, really know how to read labels – and know the companies you’re dealing with – trust the people who do. (related: ANYTHING you don’t entirely know what you want to buy, or how to use it).
  8. Prepared foods. This is the easiest place for a business to cut costs. I wish people had the faintest inkling about the quality that goes into our food! Compared to Shaws or 7-Eleven, ours might cost a bit more, but we’re making a lot less on it. Compare us to Whole Foods. Compare our chicken soup, for example – for flavor, for richness, for density. We win, hands-down.
  9. Honey. Honey is inarguably the single most adulterated food on the market in this country. Some studies have shown that more than half the honey on store shelves is cut with high fructose corn syrup. The large companies may mean well – sort of – but they’re still buying from producers who aren’t entirely trustworthy. (Related: extra virgin olive oil; according to the International Olive Council, more than 60% is adulterated)
  10. Junk Food. Because sometimes you need a potato chip. It might as well be organic, and cooked in coconut oil.|
  11. Everything else. Nothing goes on our shelves “just because it sells.”

Adam Stark