Letter from the Iselys - August 2021

Once upon a time, before Keto and Paleo and Non-GMO, before Earth Day and USDA Certified Organic, Margaret and Philip Isely were knocking on doors and lending out books on nutrition. They were passionate people, people whose values were rooted in something they actively believed in, something they lived. And that’s why, way back in 1955, they started the business that became Natural Grocers®

Margaret's Birthday

Margaret and Philip’s core values are the reason for our Five Founding Principles—our guiding force from the beginning. As we invite you to celebrate our 66th anniversary this year, we want to take a moment to celebrate these principles and the everyday details they’ve shaped along the way.

1. Nutrition Education

Nutrition is the foundation for wellbeing, and Education about it is one of the most important gifts we can give—this is what Margaret taught us, and how she lived. From our Nutritional Health Coaches to the articles in our monthly Health Hotline Magazine, her legacy continues. Sharing the empowerment of Nutrition Education is the heartbeat of our company.

2. Quality

Quality at Natural Grocers is rooted in nutrition education and the inseparable connection between the health of humans and this planet, from the soil to the food on our plates. These values, rather than passing trends, are the reason for our stringent standards, from 100% organic produce to 100% pasture-based dairy, free-range eggs, non-GMO bulk, and so much more.

3. Always A­ffordable Prices

Always A­ffordable Prices is a principle grounded in something deeper than keeping up with the competition. We believe that everyone deserves access to the highest quality products to support their wellbeing. It’s this link between quality and affordability that sets us apart from the crowd.

4. Community

Community, you’re our reason for being. From our many platforms offering free Nutrition education to our donation program, supporting the wellbeing of our communities defines our mission. “Ours is to share” was a favorite motto of Margaret’s, and we’re grateful to you for sharing your insights, your locally made goods, and your neighborhoods with us.

5. Good4u Crew

Good4u Crew, you’ve always been part of the family—this was Margaret’s way. Her spirit lives on in our commitment to you, and she inspired some extra-special Natural Grocers benefits like Vitamin Bucks and Birthday Pay. As she would say, thank you for sharing your unique talents with us because, without you, our Founding Principles are just good concepts. It’s your dedication that gives them impact.


This year would have been Margaret’s 100th birthday, and we celebrate her life and our anniversary with deep gratitude for the legacy of values she and Philip passed on to us. It’s the reason the “once upon a time” of Natural Grocers still has a story to tell.