Organic Oydessy

Organic Odyssey

Where an organic bite is easy to come by

Believe it or not, there was a time when organic produce and meats were hard to find.  Specialty stores were rare, farmer’s markets were quaint and organic farmers were virtually unknown.  These days, organic and local produce and meats can be found in many mainstream grocery stores, and the stories of organic producers are all part of marketing efforts.  Granted, their selection may be smallish, but there’s no denying that times have changed.

Still…let’s be frank.  Some cities do better than others. Check out any Best Of list for organic shoppers and food lovers, and you’ll see the same cities over and over again.  We love them all: Austin, New York, Denver, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego.

But we do have our favorites. Here’s why: 

 San Francisco

The City by the Bay tops many “Best Of” lists for organic eating and shopping. It has a solid reputation for being one of the few large cities where health conscious is cool. Locals take it for granted.  Go ahead, text anyone you know who lives in San Francisco, and ask them to recommend an organic restaurant.  We guarantee  the response will read something like: “Can you be more specific? Almost all the good restaurants here use organic and sustainably raised ingredients.”

The City by the Bay tops many “Best Of” lists for organic eating and shopping.

Nopa sits at the top of our list of restaurants committed to organic, local, and sustainable cuisine.  For brunch, try their smoked trout on a sea salt bagel with dill farmer’s cheese, or their wood-grilled sausage and poached eggs.  For dinner, you’ll swoon over the urban rustic and organic wood-fired offerings. If you don’t have a reservation, you can try to get on their walk-in waitlist every day at 5 p.m. for dinner or Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. for brunch.

For organic shopping, you can’t beat Rainbow Grocery in the Mission. It offers everything from organic produce and cheeses to herbs, spices, teas, as well as bath and body and pet products.  But for a destination experience, Saturday at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market will knock your socks off. You’ll be up-close and personal with other organic food lovers (as well as farmers, chefs, jam-makers, and educators) in The City by the Bay.

 Portland, Oregon

It’s no surprise that the North American Organic Brewers Festival takes place in Portland.  Seriously, where else would it be? Not only is Portland an organic food and drink mecca, anything that can be done organically and sustainably will find a home in this city.  Organic spas, organic clothing, and, yup, organic spray tan.

You can find a farmers market everywhere you turn in Portland, and that’s great, but occasionally, don’t you want the produce to come to you?  Organics to You will deliver local, organic produce to your home, and they also offer gift baskets and gift certificates to spread the love.

And then there’s Bamboo Sushi, the first certified sustainable sushi restaurant in. the. world. It’s also the first sushi restaurant in the United States with a “Certified Green Restaurant” Designation. Sashimi, ngiri, or sea urchin crème brulee, anyone?


We vote Minneapolis one of the most underrated cities in the country.  It has everything.  Snow, yes.  But this Twin City also offers an abundance of art, culture, music, food and options for those seeking to eat and shop organic.

The Minneapolis Farmers Market actually consists of several markets, but our favorite is the one on Lyndale Avenue because it’s open seven days a week, May through October.  There’s  no need to keep track of which market falls on which day – just in case we need arugula and strawberries ASAP.

For the more adventurous who are willing to sign on to a get-what-you-get plan, Minneapolis offers many Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) programs that deliver local, seasonal produce year round.

In 2002, The Wedge Community Co-op became the first Certified Organic retailer in Minnesota.  In addition to the 15,000-member grocery store, they run an organic deli, an organic farm, greenhouses that offer organic starter seedlings and a not-for-profit educational arm for the organic farming community.

The French Meadow Bakery was the first certified organic bakery in the United States. Their cafés offer everything from organic eggs and organic sprouted bagels for breakfast, to farm-to-table produce and hormone-free meats for dinner. Try the North Star Bison Burger on an organic brioche bun.  Oh yeah, and their happy hours feature local, sustainable, seasonal draft beers. Need we say more?

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Elizabeth Salaam
Along with her work as Senior Contributing Writer for Girl's Guide, Elizabeth Salaam writes for the San Diego Reader. Her work has also been published in Elle Magazine. | Most inspired by: Contradictions. | Favorite room in my home: The Master suite. The windows have views for days! | Best design idea I may never do: Adorn my enclosed toilet room with library book wallpaper and a chandelier. | Will never: Bungee jump. | Have always been: Rebellious. | Dying to: Live in a Paris flat with herringbone wood floors.
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