When you’re mentally preparing to give up your prime parking spot for the sake of a grocery trip and you’re trying to remember all of the stuff on your list, I bet you’re in need of more than just run of the mill groceries. You remember that you need some Clorox wipes or a new notebook or a birthday cake that you forgot to make yourself (nobody’s perfect). So where do you go? To a big supermarket. Their convenience is obvious, but have you ever stopped to think that maybe two stops could be better than one?

Instead of grabbing your munchies at a big store, consider a local natural food store instead. Why, you ask? Buying at a natural food store instead of a big chain is infinitely better. It’s better for your wallet, your health, and your community (yay, local economy!).

But isn’t organic food expensive? Sort of. An organic apple, for instance, will generally cost more than a nonorganic one, but many products at natural food stores can be bought in bulk rather than in prepackaged amounts. This is generally a more cost-effective trade-off, or in other words, more money in your pocket.

health food stores

Photo by Lauren Kaplan

Staples like nuts, granola, and dried fruits are much less expensive at most local health food stores than at supermarkets, and if you scoop some dried mangoes into a bag at a health food store, you know that you’re paying for those mangoes…not half a bag of mangoes and half a bag of packaged air! They also won’t be anywhere near as processed as supermarket varieties, so you can feel a tad bit safer knowing that your cashews haven’t been dusted with something that you can’t pronounce.

Besides cheaper granola and dried fruit, what’s so great about health food stores, you ask? Wow, your questions are really awesome today. Instead of buying cheese that was cut out on a conveyer belt hundreds of miles away from actual cows, wouldn’t it be nice to pick out something that was made in a town only a half an hour away?

That’s what you can get at a local organic store: fresh food that you know is fresh because you can track it down to its origin if you wish. Now, even though buying items like local cheese, meats, and fresh vegetables at your health food store won’t save you all that much money over buying them at the supermarket, it is more than worth it to treat yourself well and put good food into your body (because you’re worth that extra $0.25).

health food stores

Photo by Laura Lim

So when you make your grocery list, remember that it is WORTH IT to get out of the car twice and shop for your food with your well-being in mind! You can do it. Do it for the banana chips.

For a great local health food store with bulk items (to save you $), a selection of local produce, meat, and dairy, and a super yummy juice bar, try Tom’s Natural Foods right in downtown Clinton (you can pick up one of the cool hipster mugs while you’re at it!).