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For The Love of Organics: The Cost Of Conventional AG


External cost. It’s when “producing or consuming a good...imposes a cost on a third party.” It’s a definition begging for our consideration, as we choose the food we are going to consume. Who pays the cost of conventional agriculture? Who funds the subsidies that prioritize GMO corn and soy, fueling factory farms and environmental degradation? It isn’t the farmers, the factories, or the government. Who covers the rising health care costs in a disease-laden society, and the increasing rate of climate-induced natural disasters? The burden of these externalized costs is laid directly on taxpayers—on every one of us. It’s also exacted from those with no consent at all, so who else pays the cost of conventional agriculture?

Cost To Birds And Bees... And The Human Brain

Neonicotinoid insecticides are one of the most common pesticides in use, often coating the seeds of crops before they’re planted, making them a systemic poison that spreads into all parts of the maturing plant. They easily spread into the nontarget environment by way of soil, water, and the pollinators that consume them. They’re known to be dangerous to bees, and the EPA has recently announced that “risks posed to certain birds from eating neonic-coated seeds exceeded the agency’s level of concern by as much as 200-fold.” Neonicotinoids target the nervous system of insects, binding to acetylcholine receptors. In our bodies, acetylcholine receptors play a vital role in brain function, including fetal development, muscle contraction, learning, and focus. This raises questions regarding the potentially detrimental consequences neonicotinoids pose to human health. Emerging research suggests their possible implication in an increased risk of central nervous system disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Yet so far, the use of neoniccoated seeds continues to be widespread in the U.S.

Cost To The Climate And The Economy

Nitrogen-based fertilizers are a primary source of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O), and the corn belt of the American Midwest uses large quantities of these fertilizers to grow crops for fuel and animal feeding operations. The climate impact is now greater than expected, as a study at the University of Minnesota found that N2O emissions in the region “were underestimated by around 40 percent.” The bad news gets worse when you consider that nitrous oxide is up to 300 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere compared to carbon dioxide over a 100-year time period. It’s a cost that is transferred far beyond the produce aisle to non-organic dairy, meat, and eggs. It’s a cost that threatens the future of economic stability, as our economy cannot thrive amid environmental destruction. The words of Wendell Barry sum it up perfectly: “Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”

Cost To Kids

Apples are delicious, nutritious, and kids want to eat them. What else could you ask for in an after-school snack? Unfortunately, if you’re buying conventional apples, you’re also asking for extra pesticides. According to the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen 2018 list, 90 percent of apples tested had pesticide residue, and that’s after washing! One of these is thiabendazole, a developmental and reproductive toxin, as well as a probable carcinogen; definitely NOT after-school snack material. Sweet peppers, peaches, and snap peas have something in common besides being tasty fruits and vegetables your kids are likely to enjoy. It’s chlorpyrifos, a type of organophosphate pesticide that was almost banned by the EPA in 2017 because of its potential to cause neurodevelopmental harm to children. Before the ban could be enacted, however, it was overturned by the current administration.

Value Of Organic

Organic agriculture adds value throughout its systems. Organic soil is healthier soil and healthier soil grows more nutritious plants and builds topsoil. Organic farms foster biodiversity. Organic standards and regulations provide greater transparency in the supply chain. And organic farms bolster the economies of the communities where they are located. At Natural Grocers, we have always only sold 100% USDA certified organic produce and will continue to choose certified organic grocery products in our expanding house brand because we vote for a world in which regeneration is possible.

References available upon request.

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Letter From The Iselys: October


"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers… look at these maple branches. Don't they give you a thrill—several thrills?" – L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Yes, Anne with an “e,” the brilliant colors of October do give us “several thrills” indeed! Another thing giving us thrills about October is that its Non-GMO Month, which means we get to talk about our favorite subject: good4u food! Organic food is always non-GMO, but we think curious minds, like Anne’s, may sometimes wonder how, exactly, that is accomplished. So, in celebration of Non-GMO Month, we’re going to highlight some of the ways organic standards ensure the integrity of our food. 

  1. NO, NEVER, JUST NO. This is the simple, black and white starting point: GMOs are never allowed in organic products, and every input, from flavor to processing aids, must be verified non-GMO. 
  2. GIVE ME SPACE. Organic farmers create buffer zones between their cropland and surrounding areas. They must have enough physical space and barriers to prevent GMO contamination from other farms through air or groundwater. 
  3. NOT HERE TO MINGLE. After harvest, organic ingredients must be kept separate from any potential contaminants during receiving, processing, storing and shipping.
  4. SHOW ME. Every certified organic operation must have an organic systems plan to prove that adequate practices are in place to prevent contamination and meet organic standards. Operations are inspected at least once a year, by third-party accredited inspectors. 
  5. THIS IS SERIOUS. If routine testing or inspections suggest the possibility of GMOs, the responsible parties face corrective measures. This can mean financial penalties in addition to potential de-certification.  There’s so much at stake for organic farmers and processors that it isn’t in anyone’s best interest to cut corners. 

Understanding how the integrity of organic food is maintained every step of its journey to our table helps our family relax and think about other things, like planning our Halloween costumes and stocking up on organic treats for the tricksters. Just remember, if you’re doing some nonGMO treat shopping and organic isn’t an option, look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal.  And hey, while you’re at it, we hope you get “several thrills” out of October! 

P.S. Have you heard that our entire bulk department is non-GMO? And have you tried the latest goodies from our organic house brand? It’s good stuff, and of course, non-GMO!

The Isely Family

Letter From The Iselys: October

Milk Thistle, Your Liver's Best Friend


Bloating and gas; acid reflux; constipation; inability to lose weight; chronic fatigue; hormonal imbalances… sound familiar? If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it could be a sign that your liver is overburdened and is not functioning optimally. It may be time to give it a boost from its BFF, milk thistle!

The liver is the body’s single most important detoxifying organ, converting toxic substances into harmless materials that can be excreted from the body. This is vitally important in our modern world, where we are constantly bombarded with a laundry list of toxins. The liver is also in charge of regulating our blood supply; metabolizing carbohydrates, fats, and protein; aiding in proper digestion and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins; producing essential proteins and cholesterol; as well as storing key vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, D, K, and B12 and iron. With this round-the-clock work, and the ever-increasing amount of toxins we are exposed to daily, our livers need extra nutritional support to keep them functioning at peak performance. 


General Liver Detoxification

Without a doubt, milk thistle is a powerful liver cleanser. While it helps to remove toxins from the body, it also repairs damaged liver cells, returning them to a functional, healthy state. Milk thistle can naturally reverse the harmful effects of so many harmful—yet common— substances, including alcohol, sugar, pesticides in our food supply, heavy metals in our water supply, and pollution in the air. It can also reduce liver damage caused by acetaminophen, chemotherapy and radiation, and certain poisonous mushrooms. 

The health of the body’s blood is also heavily dependent on liver health, which is yet another reason that optimal liver function is so important. As a blood purifier, the liver needs to actively clean the blood around-the-clock in order to support every system in our bodies. By helping the liver to detoxify, milk thistle also naturally helps in this essential blood purification process.

Finally, milk thistle has been shown to restore and/or maintain glutathione levels in the liver. Glutathione is the body’s most powerful endogenous antioxidant and plays a myriad of important roles in health, including maintaining normal detoxification. 

Treatment Of Liver Diseases

A startling observational study published in the British Medical Journal earlier this year reported that deaths from liver cirrhosis have surged in the United States, especially among millennials. From 1999 to 2016, deaths from cirrhosis (the end stage of liver disease) increased by 65 percent, while deaths from liver cancer doubled. The increases are thought to be driven by the increasing prevalence of alcoholic liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  Milk thistle is one of the most well-researched plants for the treatment of liver disease, including alcoholic liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and viral hepatitis. 

Human and animal studies have shown that silymarin, an active compound in milk thistle, can prevent and normalize alcohol-induced damage in the liver and improve liver health and function in cases of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Silymarin also acts as a potent antioxidant, fending off disease-causing free radicals while also preventing toxic buildup in liver cells. It’s one of the reasons why milk thistle is so incredible at protecting the liver from damage. 

Supplementing With Milk Thistle

There are many ways to incorporate milk thistle into your daily routine, as the seeds and leaves of the milk thistle plant can be consumed either in pill, powder, tincture, extract, or tea form.

As a way to detoxify the body, the recommended daily intake of milk thistle extract is 150 milligrams, taken two to three times daily for several months. This is not an amount that is needed by everyone for everyday support but can act as a natural liver “detox.” For ongoing use and general liver support, take 150 milligrams daily. 

I recommend looking for a high-quality product that’s between 150 to 250 milligrams of milk thistle extract per capsule, so you can adjust the amount you are taking depending on your needs. You should also look for products that are labeled as standardized to contain at least 80% silymarin. Silymarin is a phytonutrient found in milk thistle, and it is why milk thistle is one of the best nutrients to support liver health and daily detoxification.

Your liver works hard to keep metabolic processes running smoothly and your body free of harmful toxins, but in our modern day lives, it’s easy for this important organ to become overburdened and congested. Take the time to give it a little extra support with milk thistle. 


'Tis The Season For Sugar

By Lindsay Wilson

Are you ready? The sugar rush is almost here. It starts with Halloween and is followed by two more months of overindulging… in food in general, but more importantly, in candy and sweets. A little sweet treat now and then doesn’t hurt, but when “now and then” becomes every day, there’s a problem, sometimes a life-threatening problem.

We all know that obesity rates have skyrocketed in the U.S., among adults and children alike. But did you know that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is also on the rise? And it is directly linked with obesity, which is linked with high sugar intake, especially high-fructose corn syrup.  NAFLD is fat accumulation in the liver, which can lead to inflammation and liver cell damage, and in the worst cases can progress to fi fibrosis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. According to the National Institutes of Health, up to 40 percent of adults in the U.S. have NAFLD.  Rates among children have also tripled since the late 1980s, affecting up to 38 percent of obese children. 

Maintaining a healthy weight, drastically reducing sugar intake, and staying active are lifestyle habits that are critical in preventing or reversing NAFLD, but you also have a friend in milk thistle. Compounds in milk thistle have been shown to protect the liver from NAFLD in a number of ways, including having antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antifibrotic (preventing thickening and scarring of liver tissue) properties, and stimulating liver regeneration.  

References available upon request.

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Are You a Savvy Non-GMO Shopper?


Even without mandatory labeling, there are surefire strategies you can follow to avoid buying unnatural and untested genetically modified foods.

A whopping 97 percent of consumers are now aware of GMOs in foods—a much higher figure than in previous years. Forty-six percent of American consumers in a recent survey say they avoid genetically modified foods (compared to only 15 percent in 2007), and sales of Non-GMO Project Verified products grew from $2 billion in sales in 2011 to more than $25 billion in 2017. But even while consumers are actively avoiding GMOs, there is still much confusion about them, including the awareness that certified organic foods are, by definition, free of GMOs.  

GMOs 101

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) look like traditionally grown foods but they are very different on the inside. Engineers insert genes from one living thing into the DNA of an unrelated living thing to create a GMO with different traits that would never occur in nature. The practice of inserting genes from one species into another unrelated species is a modern technology and is very different from traditional breeding methods that have been utilized for centuries.

The two most common types of GM crops on the market are those that have been engineered to have a little bit of insecticide inside every bite and those that resist (i.e., don’t die from) repeated applications of herbicides such as Roundup weed killer. Newer types of genetic engineering have emerged in recent years, such as the use of “gene silencing” to alter potatoes and apples so they don’t brown when sliced, and CRISPR and RNAi technologies, which involve turning genes on and off and creating new sequences of DNA.

Contrary to what many people think, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t conduct safety studies on GM foods; it leaves determining their safety up to the companies that make them. What’s more, animal research points to serious health risks from eating GM foods, including infertility, immune system problems, gastrointestinal problems, organ changes, and tumors.

A big focus of concern in recent years has been the herbicides used on GM crops. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup weed killer sprayed on the vast majority of GM crops, was declared a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for the Research on Cancer in 2015. In August of this year, a jury determined that Ranger Pro (Monsanto’s generic version of Roundup) caused a former groundskeeper’s terminal cancer and ruled that the maker of the weed killer, Monsanto, pay $289 million in damages. Thousands of similar lawsuits are pending against the company. Human exposure to glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, has increased approximately 500 percent since the introduction of GMOs. A 2014 study reported that chronically ill people have higher residues of glyphosate in their urine.

Pollen and seed from GM crops can easily spread in an open environment and contaminate both non-GMO and organic food. Also, the herbicides sprayed on GMOs pollute our land and water and harm vegetation that birds and animals use for food. One example: Roundup herbicide kills milkweed, a primary food source for Monarch butterflies.

Common Reasons for Avoiding GMOs

There is a growing desire among consumers for more natural foods. Even without a complete understanding of all the issues surrounding GMOs, shoppers generally have an aversion to GMOs because they are uncomfortable with the idea of something natural being changed into something that is unnatural.

The number one reason people avoid GMOs is because they worry about GMO’s impact on health, according to the Hartman Group’s Organic & Natural 2018 survey and report. Seventy percent of those who avoid GMOs say they do so because they are concerned about the consequences or risks to health from eating GMOs.

Avoiding or limiting exposure to pesticides is another top reason to steer clear of GMOs.

Other reasons people give for avoiding GMOs include wanting to know exactly what goes into the food they eat, being concerned about negative impacts on the environment and farm workers from GMOs and the pesticides that go with them, and not wanting to support companies that use GMOs.

One of the main takeaways from the 2018 report is that trust in food companies and transparency of the ingredients in food products are very important to consumers, according to Helen Lundell, senior consultant at the Hartman Group, which conducted the study. Overall, consumers lack trust in big business, which they believe should have more humility, she says.

Details of the proposed new U.S. GMO labeling law (called The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard) were not finalized at the time of publication of this article. But consumer advocates see the controversial new law as convoluted and fraught with problems for shoppers, including that the law is not likely to offer the clear on-package labeling that consumers want. But even without mandatory GMO labeling in the United States, you can still successfully avoid GM foods when you use the right strategies.

Are you non GMO savvy

4 Ways to Avoid GMOs

  1. Buy organic. By law, products that have the USDA Organic seal cannot contain any GM ingredients.
  2. Look for Non-GMO Project Verified seals. Products that carry the seal with the butterfly on it are independently verified to be in compliance with North America’s only third party standard for GMO avoidance, including testing of at-risk ingredients.
  3. Avoid the indirect sources of GMOs. Gradually upgrade the animal protein sources that you eat, switching from conventional meats and dairy products from animals or farmed fish fed GM feed to organic poultry, organic grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish, and pastured dairy products.
  4. Learn and avoid the at-risk crops and products. GM crops that are now in our foods and should be avoided unless certified organic or labeled as non-GMO are:
  • Corn (sweet corn, corn oil, cornmeal, cornstarch, high fructose corn syrup, hominy, polenta, and other corn-based ingredients)
  • Canola (canola oil)
  • Cottonseed (cottonseed oil)
  • Sugar Beets (when you see “sugar” listed as an ingredient, it is almost certainly a combination of sugar from both sugar cane and GM sugar beets)
  • Soybeans (soybean oil, soy protein, soy lecithin, soy milk, tofu, and other soy-based ingredients)
  • Alfalfa (fed to livestock)
  • Apples
  • Papaya (from Hawaii and China)
  • Potatoes
  • Yellow Squash and Zucchini
  • Aspartame (in diet soft drinks and NutraSweet artificial sweetener)
  • Dairy from cows given rBGH (Recombinant bovine growth hormone, also known as bovine somatotropin, or bST, was developed from genetically engineered E. coli bacteria and is injected into some cows to increase milk production. Look for dairy products labeled rBGH-free, or better yet, buy pastured and/or certified organic dairy products. Note: Natural Grocers does not carry dairy products made with milk from cows injected with rBGH.)

Understand Non-GMO Verified vs. USDA Organic

To make the most informed shopping decisions for you and your family, it’s important to understand the difference between products labeled Non-GMO Project Verified and USDA Organic. Products that carry the Non-GMO Project Verified label are independently verified to be in compliance with North America’s only third party standard for GMO avoidance, including testing of at-risk ingredients. They are verified to be free of GMOs but they still could have been sprayed with synthetic pesticides and grown with synthetic fertilizers.

In contrast, products that have the USDA Organic seal cannot, by law, contain any GM ingredients. They also must be produced without irradiation, sewage sludge, antibiotics, and growth hormones, and without synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides, including glyphosate.

For the best protection against GMOs, choose products with the USDA Organic label. Additionally, look for the Non-GMO Project Verified label or other third-party certifiers such as NSF International, A Greener World, or SGS—or avoid foods made with, or derived from, GM ingredients, like corn, canola, cottonseed, soy, and sugar from sugar beets. Opt instead for foods that have not been genetically modified, such as nuts, most vegetables, and most fruits.

Take note: In many stores, corn, potatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, apples, and papaya are produce items that could be GM if they are not labeled organic. However, bear in mind that Natural Grocers only sells organic produce. Organic foods by definition cannot contain GMOs. Natural Grocers also has a policy in place requiring all new products it brings into its stores to be non-GMO.

What You Should Know About GM Salmon

In late 2015, against widespread consumer and business opposition, the FDA approved AquaBounty’s genetically modified salmon—the first genetically engineered animal—for sale in the United States.[i] Commercialization of the fish was delayed while the FDA sorted out the question of labeling it. But sales of the controversial farmed GM salmon have started in Canada and it is not labeled.

The fish, which grows much faster and larger than conventional salmon, is made by inserting a fragment of DNA from the ocean pout fish (a type of eel), along with a growth hormone gene from Chinook Pacific salmon, into a fertilized Atlantic salmon egg. The FDA’s food safety evaluation of GM salmon was widely criticized as grossly inadequate. For example, the FDA treats the salmon as if it were an animal drug, not a food for human consumption. The agency didn’t conduct its own safety studies. It also dismissed data showing elevated levels of IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) that may significantly increase the risk of colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer. Data also suggests potentially increased allergenicity and higher levels of antibiotics in the fish. Most people say they do not want to eat the fish and take unintended risks with their health.

To avoid GM salmon when traveling in Canada, either don’t eat salmon or buy only wild caught.

If and when GM salmon is commercialized in the United States, know that there is a commercial boycott of it in place with restaurants, chefs, and grocery retailers pledging to keep GM salmon out of their establishments. More than 80 grocery store chains across the United States have made firm commitments to not sell GM salmon. Rest assured that Natural Grocers is a chain that has made that commitment.

References available upon request.

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We’re Raising the Bar (Again!) With Our Natural Grocers Brand Products

Natural Grocers Brand Products

At Natural Grocers we pride ourselves on our standards. In fact, I think it is safe to say we have the highest standards of any major grocery chain out there. We only sell USDA certified organic produce, never conventional. All of the dairy products we sell come from pasture-raised animals, never confinement dairies. And eggs? Our eggs have come from cage-free chickens since 1955, and we recently took our egg standards up a notch and now sell eggs only from free-range chickens. Our standards extend to the pricing of our products too, because we believe healthy food should be affordable. Now with the introduction of our new Natural Grocers brand products, we’re upping the ante again. You won’t find better house brand products at a better price anywhere else.

We’re pretty excited about these new products and we’re pretty sure you will be too.



Browse all of the Natural Grocers Brand Products


Of all the reasons to love our new line, these are my favorites:


  1. Non-GMO and organic! Every one of our Natural Grocers brand products is non-GMO certified and most are certified USDA organic. Of course, this means no GMOs (ever!), but it also means fewer pesticides in our environment and a more sustainable, healthy, and earth-friendly way to grow food.
  2. Price! Price! Price! In keeping with our Founding Principles, we’ve always put a priority on making good4u food affordable, and Natural Grocers brand products are no exception. Comparing organic apples to organic apples you won’t find better prices.
  3. It’s not just about the end product. Each product is not only delicious and good4u, but is also produced in an environmentally sustainable manner. That means all packaging materials are recyclable whenever possible and we’ve partnered with (which by the way, is an awesome resource for all recycling questions) to create a standardized labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to empower people to recycle more and recycle right. It also means we’ve specifically chosen companies to produce our products that are using solar energy and cleaner fuel sources, and companies that are coming up with innovative ways to conserve water and reduce their environmental footprints.
  4. It’s also about the people. Natural Grocers has always felt a strong commitment to the people we serve and our new products extend that commitment to the people who serve us. We’ve carefully sourced each product so you can trust that your food is coming from people who were paid a fair wage in good working conditions, and in many cases, we’re supporting organic farms here in the United States. For example, all of the apples that go into our Natural Grocers Brand Organic Apple Cider Vinegar and all of the tomatoes in our Natural Grocers Brand Premium Organic Pasta Sauce and Natural Grocers Brand Organic Tomato Products are grown on small farms right here in the U.S.
  5. We’re making healthy eating even easier. Stocking your pantry and (and soon) freezer with Natural Grocers brand products means a wholesome, balanced meal can come together in minutes. Looking for a healthy recipe in a rush? How about throwing this Loaded Elk and Beef Chili in the slow cooker in the morning using our Natural Grocers Brand Organic Pinto Beans, Natural Grocers Brand Organic Tomato Paste, and Natural Grocers Brand Organic Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes. You could even leave out the carrots, bell peppers, and zucchini and instead add a couple bags of frozen vegetables when you get home to really simplify things. Or try our Natural Grocers Premium Organic Pasta Sauce over baked spaghetti squash, zoodles, or Natural Grocers Brand Gluten-Free Brown Rice Pasta and a simple side salad for a quick vegetarian meal. Make this super easy vinaigrette using Natural Grocers Brand Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and our Natural Grocers Brand Organic Apple Cider Vinegar to top a salad. Or whip up a batch of this Powerhouse Chocolate Pudding with Natural Grocers Brand Organic Pumpkin. The possibilities are endless.

There you have it. Five great reasons to love our new products, and I didn’t even get started on the taste (the pasta sauce, made with heirloom tomatoes, will knock your socks off!). Natural Grocers brand products are the natural evolution of our 63-year commitment to delivering the highest quality products at affordable prices and we’re excited for you to try them. I think you’ll love them as much as we do!


Browse all of the Natural Grocers Brand Products

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Letter From The Isely Family: November


This time of year is comfortably predictable, so you probably already know what we’re going to say, but we’ll say it anyway. We are SO grateful for the piles of dishes we’re about to encounter on November 22nd, because it means we’ve done Thanksgiving right once again. We’ve gained five pounds each—of delicious memories—and spent quality family time to banter through the cleanup, which is everything we’re hoping for this time of year…

In all seriousness, we do have a lot to be grateful for as the holiday season approaches, starting with each of you—our friends and neighbors. Thank you! 

We’re grateful that Natural Grocers is grounded in the founding principles established by our parents and grandparents 63 years ago, empowering us to carry on our family’s mission of providing nutrition education and affordable healthy food to our neighbors. We have so much gratitude for our extended family of good4u Crew, who make this mission possible every single day, and for our wonderful communities who make it worth pursuing. We’re also thankful for our partnerships with farmers and producers who supply the highest quality, most delicious choices that we can pass along to all of your holiday tables.

We’re mouthwateringly grateful that we have Mary’s turkeys again this year, and we can almost smell them roasting now. Mary’s turkeys represent how we believe food should be produced: animals raised the way nature intended, with care for the animals and the planet and strong family values as guidance. Every turkey that we carry is Non-GMO Project Verified, free-range and deep chilled—never frozen. We’re grateful that ranchers, like Mary’s family, the Pitman’s, are helping to preserve heritage breeds that are in danger of vanishing. 

We’re thankful that we carry only organic potatoes, considering that conventionally grown potatoes have landed a spot on the EWG’s 2018 Dirty Dozen list of pesticide-heavy produce. Dreaming of mashed potatoes, we’re reminded how happy we are that the only kind of butter we have is pasture-based, so our holiday indulgences come with respect to animals, the planet and an extra helping of CLA—a healthy fat. We’re stoked that we stock every ingredient we need to deliver our favorite non-GMO, organic, artificial-free holiday dishes; from vegan roasts to grandma’s pumpkin cheesecake, we’ve got the party covered. 

At the end of the day, we’re excited for the holidays because they give us the chance to share time with the people we love. We can’t think of anything better than gathering around a table surrounded by the faces who give our lives meaning. We also read that gratefulness may help with willpower, so in the interest of gaining only five pounds instead of 10, we’re going to be proactive about gratitude as we countdown toward the holidays. We hope that every single one of you enjoys a table filled with love and a season filled with laughter, winning football teams and plenty of pie.

P.S. It is important to us that all families and friends get to spend the holidays together; this is why we give all of our good4u Crew a paid day off on Thanksgiving.  

The Isely Family

Letter From The Iselys


For the Love of Organics: Sweet Bell Peppers


Festive Veggies, Vibrant Skin

Roasting the turkey, stuffing the stockings, crunching through the snow… ‘tis the season of holidays with all of our favorite traditions and flavors, and it reminds us of the most festive veggie in the produce basket. We’re thinking of the one that can be stuffed to the max, roasted to perfection, and crunched on whenever you need a healthy snack. It comes in red, yellow, orange, and green, and it’s shaped for all sorts of fun. Ring a BELL anyone?

Sweet bell peppers will add a festive touch to any spread, whether you stuff them for a colorful Thanksgiving side, or use their crinkly shapes to build a holiday veggie platter. They also happen to be one of the best dietary sources of vitamin C, with one medium red bell pepper packing 152 mg of vitamin C—double the amount of a medium orange! When it comes to keeping our skin holiday party ready, we can all benefi t from extra vitamin C. It’s necessary for making collagen, and collagen is key to healthy, smooth and glowing skin. Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant that our bodies cannot make, which means consuming whole food sources of it on the daily should be on everyone’s holiday to-do list. 

Ring A Bell - Pepper - For Organic

Organic is the kind of bell pepper that we feature on our party menus. These beauties aren’t just grown without synthetic pesticides, they are also a richer source of antioxidants than conventionally grown ones. A Polish study discovered that organic sweet bell peppers had “significantly” more vitamin C and carotenoids than conventional,  and this isn’t the first time that organic produce has scored higher in antioxidants than conventional. Do we smell organic, roasted sweet peppers in your future?

There's Nothing Festive About Pesticides

When the theme is “synthetic pesticides,” conventional bell peppers will always show up for the party. They placed number 12 on the Environmental Working Group’s 2018 Dirty Dozen List, with almost 90 percent testing positive for pesticide residues. It’s not the first time they’ve been featured on the Dirty Dozen; in fact, they’ve ranked on the list every year of the last fi ve. Even less festive is the sheer variety of pesticides used on conventional bell peppers: 53 different residues showed up in tests performed by the USDA Pesticide Data Program.  An extra helping of toxins on our party plates isn’t good for any of us, but pesticides pose greater hazards to the developing bodies of kids. Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine isn’t alone in his assessment that “even low levels of pesticide exposure can be harmful to infants, babies, and young children…” We want to keep our kids’ health as vibrant as the holiday festivities they love, which means conventional bell peppers will never be in our party plans.

References available upon request

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Soothe the Burn: Healthy Alternatives To Acid Blocking Drugs


’Tis the season! For overindulging, that is (one more serving of stuffing and gravy won’t hurt, or will it?). If you have ever suffered from heartburn, you know the symptoms well, and you want to be rid of them ASAP. It’s why so many people turn to over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription acid blockers like proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers because they know they work. They may work, but they are only meant for short-term use (as one package insert from a popular PPI says, “…indicated for the treatment of heartburn … for up to 4 weeks.”) Unfortunately, doctors are prescribing these short-term symptomfixers for long-term use, and most patients aren’t aware of the serious damage that can ensue.

Short-Term Relief = Long-Term Damage

Stomach acid is required for healthy digestion and to effectively absorb vitamins and minerals, so the longterm use of acid blockers, which work by reducing acid production in the stomach, can severely decrease nutrient absorption, leading to nutrient deficiencies. Studies have found PPI users to have significantly lower levels of vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and magnesium. One study found that 75 percent of long-term PPIs users were deficient in vitamin B12, compared to only 11 percent of non-users.  And in 2011, the FDA issued a warning that long-term use (more than one year) of acid-blocking medications can result in low magnesium levels.  Likely related to the decrease in absorption of the important bone nutrients calcium and magnesium, long-term users of acid blockers also have a significantly higher risk of bone fractures, especially those of the hip and spine. Acid blockers can also lead to dangerous bacterial overgrowth in the gut, which can increase susceptibility to foodborne illnesses and infection.  Finally, evidence has emerged showing that these drugs can also increase cardiovascular risk, in part by decreasing the body’s natural production of nitric oxide, which is crucial for cardiovascular health.

Healthy Alternatives 

Heartburn hurts. When you’re suffering, you only want relief. The good news is that there are plenty of (effective!) alternatives to acid blockers—that don’t come with harmful side effects, even with long-term use.

Herbs such as slippery elm, marshmallow root, aloe vera, and deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) help soothe irritation and reduce inflammation in the esophagus and stomach caused by acid reflux by coating and protecting these sensitive tissues. These herbs soothe and encourage healing without reducing stomach acid production.

While melatonin is most known for its role in supporting a normal circadian rhythm, research is finding that it also does an excellent job at relieving symptoms of acid reflux; not surprising, considering there is up to 400 times more melatonin in the gut than in the brain!  Studies have found that melatonin is as effective, or more effective, in reducing symptoms of acid reflux than omeprazole, a common PPI. Melatonin reduces stomach acid secretion while also improving lower esophageal sphincter function, helping to keep it closed, thus preventing acid reflux. Additionally, animal studies have shown that melatonin can protect the esophagus from the damage caused by stomach acid. Studies have used 3-6 mg of melatonin with efficacy.

D-limonene, extracted from the rinds of citrus fruit, has also been shown to significantly reduce heartburn symptoms. It is thought that it coats the lining of the esophagus and stomach, protecting them from stomach acid exposure, and promotes peristalsis, which helps keep the esophagus clear of stomach contents. Studies have used 1,000 mg of d-limonene daily, with signifi cant results seen in two weeks.

Often acid reflux is a result of eating too much and/or poor digestion. Taking a quality digestive enzyme such as bromelain or papaya with meals support healthy digestion and can reduce digestive discomfort after meals. And while acid reflux is thought to be caused by too much stomach acid, sometimes the problem is that there is not enough stomach acid for proper digestion, especially as the natural production of stomach acid declines as we age. A bitters supplement (usually taken in liquid form) gently stimulates digestive secretions to promote good digestion.

For general support consider a probiotic supplement and L-glutamine. While these supplements won’t help while you’re in the throes of heartburn pain, they are vital for supporting digestion and overall gut health long term. Probiotics are critical to support a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, especially if you’ve been taking PPIs or H2 blockers since these drugs can encourage an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria. L-glutamine is an amino acid that supports overall gastrointestinal healthy by acting as fuel for intestinal cells, maintaining a healthy mucosal lining in the gut, and reducing intestinal inflammation. And using these supplements long term only comes with healthy side effects!

So as you’re enjoying that second helping of stuffing and gravy (or that third piece of pumpkin pie), remember to keep your natural heartburn remedies close at hand! It is possible to control the painful symptoms of acid reflux without the prescription or OTC meds, and without the negative side effects.

References available upon request

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Four Self-Care Strategies To Turn Holiday Stress Into Holiday Bliss

Four Self-Care Strategies To Turn Holiday Stress Into Holiday Bliss

The holiday season is a time of gathering, celebrating, and eating delicious food. That’s the plus side. On the downside, it’s also a time of hectic schedules, unhealthy eating, and overeating (cue the weight gain), digestive troubles, and generally feeling stressed out. The good news is, you don’t have to let the holidays wreak havoc on your health. A little self-care goes a long way—and doesn’t have to involve fancy spa getaways or expensive massages. Gifting yourself with nourishing meals, planned downtime, and supportive supplements can turn holiday stress into holiday bliss. 

1. Give Yourself (and Your Adrenals) A "Time Out" From Stress

Nourish your adrenals with supportive supplements. Adaptogens such as ashwagandha, holy basil, and rhodiola help the body adapt to stress and support the adrenals. Magnesium plays a key role in regulating the body’s stress response and can suppress the release of stress hormones; it may also prevent the stress hormone cortisol from entering and causing damage to the brain.  Vitamin C is required for normal adrenal function and our bodies need more of this essential nutrient when we are stressed out. Supplementing with a high potency B-complex is important during the holidays because the B vitamins are necessary for the production of neurotransmitters that help us feel happy and relaxed. Additionally, stress quickly depletes B vitamin levels so it’s important to top them up daily. If you’re experiencing major mental stress, try phosphatidylserine (PS), a phospholipid that protects brain cells from the negative effects of stress and can lower cortisol levels.

Feed your adrenal glands stressbusting foods. Some of the best stressbusting foods include ones high in B vitamins like grass-fed beef and cage-free eggs; calcium- and magnesium-rich leafy green vegetables and cultured dairy products; and healthy omega-3 fatty acids like those found in salmon (make sure it is wild-caught) and sardines. While you fi ll up on nutrient-dense foods, avoid sugar, processed foods, carb-heavy foods, and minimize caffeine (keep your intake to a minimum and aim to indulge before noon).

Have a meal plan for the week. A meal plan helps to minimize desperately (and often unhealthy) last-minute food decisions. is a great place to find simple, healthy, and well-balanced recipes. Stock the fridge with healthy offerings for meals and snacks to make life easier, and give yourself time to sit down and actually enjoy the act of eating, rather than rushing through a meal without even noticing what you’re putting in your mouth. 

There will be plenty of time-intensive meal prep for big holiday meals and celebrations— take the stress out of meal planning and keep your other meals simple! 

Keep blood sugar balanced to support adrenal function. This may seem like a challenge during the holidays when healthy eating habits can be upended but including healthy fats and protein and antioxidant-rich vegetables in each meal is key. 

Carve out some “me time” to support physical and mental wellbeing. During the holidays, we tend to focus on everyone else, while we move our own needs to the back burner, but this only serves to drain our stores and make us more susceptible to the ill effects of stress. It looks different for everyone—maybe it’s a cat nap, a hot bath, a yoga class, a trip to the gym, sitting quietly with a cup of hot tea, or turning down an invitation when you just don’t want to go— but these “time outs” are crucial for your physical and mental wellbeing.

2. Make Sleep Non-Negotiable

Use essential oils to help relax and drift off to sleep. If excitement and/or stress have you feeling like you just can’t sleep, try diffusing relaxing essential oils like lavender, chamomile, jasmine, and/or vanilla in your bedroom or soak in an essential oil-laced Epsom salt bath just before bedtime. 

Support healthy sleep with supplements like melatonin, magnesium, and valerian. Melatonin helps normalize a disrupted circadian rhythm and improves quality of sleep (it can also help relieve stress and anxiousness). Magnesium can calm your mind, making it easier to fall asleep, and increase your sleep time. Valerian root is a sedative herb that helps improve sleep quality by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a calming neurotransmitter, in your brain. 

Practice good sleep hygiene. Practices such as limiting your caffeine and alcohol intake, especially just before bedtime, removing technology from your bedroom and limiting screen time before bed, and keeping your bedroom cool and dark promote healthy sleep. As part of a nightly unwinding ritual, try sipping on relaxing herbal tea, such as chamomile or tulsi. 

3. Treat Yourself... With The Right Foods

Indulge with healthier sweeteners and grain-free fl ours. It’s not about denying yourself during the holidays, but rather about finding a healthy balance. When making desserts, opt for natural sweeteners that have some health benefi ts such as dates, raw honey, or maple syrup instead of refi ned white sugar, and experiment with grain-free fl our options ( is a great place to begin your search for healthy dessert ideas). Have some fun with it and plan a healthy cookie exchange with a small group of friends or coworkers. If you’re hosting a get-together, skip the processed chips and dips and fi ll your appetizer spread with healthier yet satisfying options like olives, fermented veggies, fresh veggies with a healthy homemade dip, and raw cheeses. Fill up before the party. If you know you’ll be at a gathering with unhealthy food options, fi ll up with a healthy meal or snack before you go so you won’t be tempted to graze. And if you do treat yourself to a slice of pie or a cookie, eat it mindfully, savoring every bite, and don’t stress out over it! 

4. Show Your Digestive System Some Love

Drink bone broth to boost gut health and improve digestive issues. One of bone broth’s top beneficial components is gelatin and, according to a report published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, gelatin effectively supports intestinal health and integrity.  You can make bone broth at home or you can purchase a high-quality pre-made bone broth or a powdered bone broth supplement. Bonus: Sitting quietly with a cup of warm bone broth is a great way to take a mental “time out” while also nourishing your adrenals.

Eat probiotic-rich foods daily to prevent and tackle digestive woes. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria our bodies require for optimal digestion and overall health. Foods rich in probiotics include raw dairy products, miso, kombucha, kefi r, and fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi. 

Create a digestion first aid kit. This can come in handy when you do overindulge, or just eat the wrong thing, and are struggling with common holiday-time digestive issues like acid reflux, indigestion, or bloating. Stock your kit with digestive enzymes, papaya, and bromelain to support healthy digestion and avoid bloating and gas; deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) for unexpected bouts of acid reflux and indigestion; peppermint capsules to ease gas; and digestive bitters to gently stimulate your body’s own production of digestive enzymes so your body can effectively break down food and properly absorb nutrients.

References available upon request.

Family Values



It’s a New Year, full of old clichés about change, but what if changing just one thing could matter in a big way? What if committing to one simple concept opened up possibilities you never imagined, because you felt better than you’ve ever felt before? What if it all starts with your grocery list and ends at your dinner table?

Our parents’ own personal journey to better health by way of better food showed us firsthand how changing your diet can change your life. It’s the reason we’re here after all.

The evidence sits on the shelves of our stores, in the quality products that have made a difference for so many people, and in our customers that have stories to tell about the impact a high-quality diet has had on their lives. The beauty of it is in its simplicity. You don’t need fancy gadgets or tools to commit to changing your diet; it only takes a few tweaks to your grocery list and making sure that where you shop has your best interests at heart.

We think these are good places to make those first tweaks:

Nix the sugar

It’s bad for your heart, your brain, your gut, not to mention your teeth. Sugar doesn’t contain a single essential nutrient, but the damage this empty calorie can do over time takes a lot more than a single nutrient to reverse. Sugar needs to go.

Buy organic

Studies have shown that organic produce contains higher levels of antioxidants and lower levels of heavy metals. It is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, which studies indicate results in no residues on your produce and a healthier ecosystem. Organic agriculture regenerates and nourishes the soil, resulting in healthier plants that are more nutrient dense, which translates into richer nutrient density at the dinner table.

If meat and dairy are your thing, go clean

Choose naturally raised meat and pasture-based dairy to keep hormones and antibiotics out of your food, choose it for the humane treatment of animals, and choose it to support environmentally sustainable farming methods.

Our family passionately believes that diet is the most important aspect of nutrition. We’re committed to having the highest product standards so that you won’t find anything on our shelves that shouldn’t be on your table. We have Nutritional Health Coaches on staff at every store, available for free health-coaching sessions to help guide you along the way to creating your own best grocery list. We also have Always Affordable Prices because our New Year’s resolution has always been to make sure that healthy food is accessible to everyone.

Family Values

P.S. Some of our family favorites when we need a tasty snack are organic roasted and salted pistachios, opal apples, smoked canned oysters, Kalamata olive snack packs, and for a sweet treat without the added sugar, our own bulk unsweetened dried mango. Delicious and nutritious!

Happy New Year from our family to yours!

The Isely Family

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Avocado Awesomeness



Just One More Excuse to Eat Guacamole

If I ever find myself wondering about what to bring as a snack for a party or get together, I fall back on the time-tested party favorite—guacamole. Guacamole is without a doubt one of the easiest party snacks to make, yet one of the most absolutely people-pleasing dishes out there. And the best part? Avocados are incredibly good4u.

The avocado (Persea americana) is a berry fruit (yep, it’s a fruit!) with a dark green leathery skin and a very large seed. The first English-language mention of avocado was in 1696. In 1871, avocados were first introduced to the United States in Santa Barbara, California, with trees from Mexico. Compared to other fruits, avocados contain very little sugar1. One-half an avocado contains only about 0.2 g sugar (e.g., sucrose, glucose, and fructose). The primary sugar found in avocados is a unique and uncommon seven-carbon sugar called D-mannoheptulose which, studies suggest is capable of supporting healthy blood sugar balance and healthy body weight2. The glycemic index and load of an avocado is about zero.

Once ripened, avocados have an amazing creamy texture provided by the type of fats found within. Much of the fat found in an avocado is the same fat that gives olive oil its reputation as being incredibly healthy, and it’s because of these healthy fats that avocados have a reputation as being incredibly nutritious. Oleic acid, the primary monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, actually increases in concentration as avocados ripen! However, it’s not just the fats in avocados that make it so amazing; avocados supply nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and other beneficial plant compounds to the diet3 . Also beneficial is the fact that avocados have a unique unsaturated fat and water matrix that is perfectly designed to enhance fat-soluble nutrient absorption. Clinical research has demonstrated that adding an avocado to a salad or simply serving avocados with salsa, mixed into guacamole, increases the bioavailability of many fat-soluble compounds by 2–5 times4 .

Some of the beneficial nutrients found in avocado include antioxidants like vitamin E, carotenoids like lutein, a variety of B vitamins, which are important for cellular energy production and gene expression, and much more.

Taken together, studies show that different components of avocado can
  1. Support a healthy microbial balance in the stomach5

  2. Support digestive health

  3. Modulate inflammation

  4. Support heart health and healthy cholesterol levels

  5. Support the health of our knees, hips, and bones,6

  6. Support eye and brain health7

Furthermore, avocado eaters just seem to be healthier people in general. Studies show that avocado consumers tend to consume significantly more of key shortfall nutrients—dietary fiber, vitamins K, and E, potassium, and magnesium—in their diet than non-avocado consumers. An analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 2001–2006 suggests that avocado consumers have higher HDL-cholesterol, better cardiovascular health, and a healthier body weight than non-consumers8 .

So, you might ask, what are a few good dishes that I can make using avocados

Well, if you are hosting a party, maybe for the upcoming Big Game, I recommend this great guacamole or this sensational spicy salmon dip.

    Meet the Blogger

    Jonathan Clinthorne’s love for nutritional sciences stems from his work in a nutritional immunology laboratory at Michigan State University, where he studied the effects of various diets on immune function.  While earning his PhD in Human Nutrition, Jonathan had the opportunity to study various other nutritional interventions, such as probiotics, mushroom extracts, and omega-3 fatty acids.  He is excited to keep you updated on current research that influences the way that we think about nutrition and food.


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    [1]USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) Avocado, almond, pistachio and walnut Composition. Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture; 2011.
    [2]Roth G. Mannoheptulose glycolytic inhibitor and novel calorie restriction mimetic. 2009. Experimental Biology. Abstract # 553.1. New Orleans, LA.
    [3]Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013; 53(7): 738-750
    [4]Unlu N, Bohn T, Clinton SK, Schwartz SJ. Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado or avocado oil. J. Nutr. 2005;135:431–436.
    [5]Castillo-Juárez I, González V, Jaime-Aguilar H, Martínez G, Linares E, Bye R, Romero I. Anti-Helicobacter pylori activity of plants used in Mexican traditional medicine for gastrointestinal disorders. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009; 122(2):402-5.
    [6]Ernst E. Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) for osteoarthritis - a systematic review. Clin Rheumatol. 2003 Oct; 22(4-5):285-8.
    [7]Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013; 53(7): 738-750
    [8]Fulgoni V. L., Dreher M. L., Davenport A. J. Avocado consumption associated with better nutrient intake and better health indices in US adults: NHANES 2011-2006. Experimental Biology. 2010b. Abstract #8514. Anaheim, CA.
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