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The 5 Best Grocery Stores for Earth-Friendly Products

Looking for Earth-Friendly Products at Your Grocery Store?

Grocery shopping and preparing meals are two necessary tasks that we must undertake at least several times a week (or less if we have lots of leftovers).

For those of us that are trying to minimize our carbon footprint and have a more eco-friendly existence, this is where consumerism meets necessity. Reducing our impact on the environment can also help save money.

Locating the best grocery stores for earth-friendly products can help us do both.

As an environmental blogger since 2008, I can tell you that there has been a significant increase in the number of consumers that are demanding earth-friendly products, which reduces the price of such items overall. It also encourages both mainstream and specialty stores to stock items that:

  • do not pollute,
  • are not tested on animals,
  • incorporate recycled materials,
  • and/or use organic products.

Considering the danger of "greenwashing"—companies that promote merchandise as "eco-friendly" when it is not—here are the five best grocery stores for earth-friendly products. You can shop with confidence at these locations, knowing that you are purchasing high-quality, environmentally friendly items.

Top 5 Eco-Friendly Grocery Stores

  1. Whole Foods Market
  2. Trader Joe's
  3. Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage
  4. Amazon Green
  5. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Fresh organic produce at Whole Foods Market

Fresh organic produce at Whole Foods Market

1. Whole Foods Market

I love Whole Foods Market. This green grocery store has one of the largest selections of fresh, organic produce, milk and eggs, bulk products, whole-grain bread, grass-fed meat, extensive vegetarian selections, natural/homeopathic health remedies, and eco-friendly cleaning items in North America and the United Kingdom.

Pick up fresh flowers (organically grown, of course), enjoy one of the product samples, grab a cup of coffee, or even have a quick lunch. You can even purchase organic dog food!

The stores are bright and clean, the salespersons are helpful, and the earth-friendly products are top quality. That said, Whole Foods Market has been criticized for the higher cost of some of its merchandise. One of my friends jokingly refers to it as "Whole Paycheck" because she claims that it seems that's where it all goes.

Many health experts advise that organic products are worth any extra cost from a health standpoint. Our family has found that organically grown/raised items taste much better, as well.

For people who live relatively near a Whole Foods Market, you can order online. Just check the website and enter your zip code or postal code to find out if the option is available for you.

Fast Facts About Whole Foods Market

  • The store has locations in the United States, Canada, and the UK.
  • Recipes, blog posts, health advice, and more are offered on its website, Twitter, and Facebook feed
  • Some stores offer cooking classes.
  • Whole Foods Market offers catering.
  • Founded in Austin, Texas, the original store opened in 1980 when "four local businesspeople decided the natural foods industry was ready for a supermarket format."
  • Whole Foods Market was ranked No. 28 in FORTUNE magazine’s “Most Admired Companies” list.
  • It has been recognized on the Ethisphere Institute’s “World’s Most Ethical Companies” list numerous times.
  • Find a Whole Foods Market Store

2. Trader Joe's

As much as I love Whole Foods Market, grocery shopping at Trader Joe's makes the chore very enjoyable! Each visit offers the opportunity for new items on the shelves, and I love receiving the "Fearless Flyer" every few weeks. The newsletter (printed on recycled paper and also available online) advertises new, popular products and specials.

Trader Joe's has a large selection of organic produce, cheese, and milk. Fresh flowers greet shoppers at the door, and unique canned, packaged, and frozen items offer tastes you would not believe! Wonderful varieties of organic, healthy cereal, juices, and even cookies can be found. Baked goods and dried fruits and nuts are top quality. Eco-friendly cleaning products are available, as well.

You can find unique, quality beers and wines at Trader Joe's, including the famous "Two Buck Chuck." Charles Shaw wine (which actually now costs about $3 per bottle) is available in varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Shiraz, and is unbelievably tasty for the price.

Fast Facts About Trader Joe's

  • All products sold are sourced from non-GMO (genetically modified) ingredients.
  • In 2010, Trader Joe's donated more than 102,000 gift baskets to community-sponsored events.
  • Through Trader Joe's Food Donation Program, in 2010, the company donated more than 25 million pounds of food—the equivalent of almost 656 truckloads of food or 20 million meals.
  • Employees wear brightly colored Hawaiian shirts.
  • The store was founded in the 1950s, and the name was changed to Trader Joe's in 1967.
  • Located along the West Coast of the U.S. in Washington, Oregon, and California.
  • It's also found in the Southwest, East Coast, and Southeast areas of the United States.
  • Home delivery is available in NYC.
  • You cannot order items online from this so-called "old-fashioned" green grocery store.

3. Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage

Natural Grocers is another excellent grocery store for earth-friendly products.

Its brick-and-mortar stores are located in the United States (in Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming), but shoppers can also browse and purchase items online.

Among its many earth-friendly products are vitamins, body care, bulk items, organic foods, herbs and spices, and much more! You can find dietary supplements and quality pet food, and other products here, too.

The store only carries certified organic produce and naturally raised meats and keeps its customers apprised about current issues with a Food Safety Blog and Natural Products Blog. The website also has recipes, nutrition, and health articles. If you subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter, you can get access to deals and coupons!

Fast Facts About Natural Grocers

  • Natural Grocers sells its earth-friendly products at EveryDay Affordable Pricing (EDAP).
  • Every natural or organic product sold at Natural Grocers is guaranteed to be safe and of the highest quality.
  • The company offers education seminars conducted by experts in microbiology, ecology, agriculture, homeopathy, nutrition science, and more.
  • Natural Grocers has outreach programs, charity support, community rooms, and other programs.
  • It's open nearly every day, with some holiday exceptions, from 9–8 (Sundays 10–6).

4. Amazon Green

That's right—the world's largest online retailer,, sells organic groceries and other earth-friendly products at Amazon Green.

While it's not a traditional grocery store, you can still shop via your computer, which may be a greener way to pick up your necessities without having to drive there (gas, traffic, congestion, etc.)

In addition to the over 2,500 organic food products available at the site, you can browse and purchase green lifestyle books, home and garden products, renewable energy items, supplements, eco-friendly toys, and much more.

Amazon green includes information to help customers learn how to compost, be more environmentally responsible drivers (saving gas and money), plan a green wedding, and become educated on Energy Star ratings and USDA-certified organic products.

Salad bar at Whole Foods Market

Salad bar at Whole Foods Market

5. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

If you have not tried CSA (community-supported agriculture), then you are missing out on one of the best-tasting produce available.

OK, I admit, (1) it's not a grocery store, and (2) you cannot get CSA food year-round. But, while there are many local green grocery outlets spread far and wide across the globe, when it comes to the five best grocery stores that are environmentally friendly, larger companies with a broader geological presence generally come to mind.

That means we need to narrow the focus, yet a discussion on CSA is broad enough to encompass most regions in North America and in Europe (known as community farming agriculture). Those that are looking for reliable sources of earth-friendly products can turn to CSA/CFA with confidence.

To take part in a CSA program, you will need to research whether local farmers have joined together to offer a number of "shares" to the public via membership or subscription. In general, this will consist of a box of fruits and vegetables delivered or picked up during the growing season.

According to the official CSA website, the advantages of signing up include the following:

  • Eat ultra-fresh food with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
  • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
  • Usually, get to visit the farm at least once a season
  • Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm—even veggies they've never been known to eat
  • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learns more about how food is grown

Many thousands of people have joined CSAs, which is a convenient, fresh way to experience healthy, earth-friendly products. hosts the most comprehensive directory of CSA farms in North America, with over 4,000 listed.

© 2012 Stephanie Marshall