Want a different selection of food? Try Natural Grocers
If you do, and even if you don’t, eat a special diet — vegetarian, only organic, gluten free — Natural Grocers at Vitamin Cottage is an interesting place to visit.
A foray through the inventory of the store is bound to turn up some fun things you won’t find at any other grocery in the Grand Valley.
The company was founded in 1955 by Margaret and Philip Isely, parents of the current owners, who started by selling whole-grain bread in the Front Range town of Golden. The regional chain operates in eight states west of the Mississippi.
The grocer’s goal is simple: To sell only natural and organic products. Weeding out non-natural and non-organic items is a little difficult. To stick to the credo, Vitamin Cottage has a list of things that it will not sell including irradiated food, anything with hydrogenated oils, NutraSweet, Splenda, Olestra, growth hormones, artificial flavors or artificial colors.
Vitamin Cottage’s website extensively details scientific studies that led to the decision not to sell these items.
Having listed the don’ts, I’ll run down some of the interesting items Vitamin Cottage does carry.
BULK FOOD: Nuts, rice, flours, beans and grains are sold by the pound from a bin or by special order in 10- to 50-pound containers that are sold at a 10 percent case discount.
GRAINS: The grocery sells a variety of breads and grains that do not use the ubiquitous wheat or corn that pervade the normal mass-produced offerings.
If you’re gluten intolerant or want to avoid the calories of bleached corn meal, you have many options.
It used to be difficult to buy a loaf of bread without wheat, or dog food without corn, but Vitamin Cottage sells bread, pasta and grains made from tapioca, brown rice, teff, millet, potato, garbanzo beans, amaranth and quinoa.
Quinoa, truly a seed rather than a grain, was cultivated by the Incas and has a higher nutritional and protein content as compared to wheat.
PRODUCE: On the shelf are many of the fruits and vegetables you’d encounter at a big-box supermarket, but they had a few items of note, including golden beets, celery root, coconuts and fresh figs.
I looked all over Denver for figs one Thanksgiving. My mother-in-law, pining for the food she grew up with in Italy, wanted fresh figs.
I found nothing.
I finally went online and bought her a fig tree, which I’m certain doesn’t survive today.
MEAT AND CHEESE CASE: The inventory is limited but selective, and includes naturally raised ostrich, buffalo, sausage, lamb, tuna and salmon.
The raw, unpasteurized cheese comes from Organic Valley co-op in many flavors.
HOLIDAY FOOD: If you’ve never had a turkey that wasn’t a frozen rock-solid Butterball, here’s your chance. Organic, free-range turkeys are available if you order ahead of time.
OTHER STUFF OF LIFE: Dog food brands are AvoDerm, Solid Gold and Earth’s Best Organic.
Coffee is from DazBog.
The store brand, Natural Grocers, produces many of the baby food choices.
And you’ll find many other usual items, such as, bonito flakes, naanwiches, free-trade crafts from Nepal, wasabi popcorn and root beer honey sticks.
If you’re looking for something in particular, go to http://www.vitamincottage.com, which allows you to search inventory.
Bring a reusable bag, because Vitamin Cottage does not provide plastic or paper sacks.
Oh, and they have vitamins, too.
QUOTE: “Corn is an efficient way to get energy calories off the land and soybeans are an efficient way to get protein off the land, so we’ve designed a food system that produces a lot of cheap corn and soybeans, resulting in a lot of cheap fast food.” — Michael Pollan
Send tips and ideas to Tess.Furey@ gjsentinel.com.