Whether eating organic is actually safer, more nutritious or better for the environment is still up for debate. Still, if you prefer to chow down with a conscience, here are five organic supermarkets to consider the next time you take your jute tote out for a grocery run.
The Organic Grocer, nestled in a row of colonial-style shophouses on Mohamed Sultan Road, works with local and international brands (USA, UK, Canada and Australia included) and wholesalers to stock a wide range of produce, kitchen and pantry staples. The little one can also get an early start on this way of life with Little Duck Organics freeze-dried fruits and Happy Baby snacks. This grocer's produce arrives fresh every Wednesday and Thursday, so plan ahead, or order online to get the goods delivered to your door.
A haven for anyone who wants to shop well, Brown Rice Paradise is one of the first in the city to stock a wide range of natural and organic items. On the shelves are an extensive range of gluten- and wheat-free foods, by brands like Bob's Red Mill. The supermarket also stocks skin care label, Kiss My Face, and dedicates a section specially for baby products. You won't miss the many-flavoured Clif and LUNA energy bars on display at the door, and it'll be hard to leave without one or a few in hand.
Set up by Sebastian and Wendy Chia, this Binjai Park spot is named after their son, Ryan, who is gluten intolerant. Naturally, this GF gourmet and grocer caters to individuals with special dietary needs. Australian-trained butchers are on hand to advise on choice cuts of organically-reared, antibiotic-free and free-range meats, including those from Blackwood Valley Beef in Perth. Order on Ryan's website for home delivery.
Little Farm's chief executive Fred Moujalli previously worked at premium grocers Thomas Dux in Sydney, and he still keeps close ties with his Australian suppliers. The Valley Point store stocks a colourful display of organic, farm-fresh produce, as well as pastas, milk, and preservative-free meats from Down Under. Homegrown brand, The Whole Kitchen's gluten- and refined sugar-free snacks can also be found in their aisles, next to Soma Organics energy bars and Doodles Creek sauces. Little Farms plans to start its own delivery service soon; see their website for updates.
Set up to inspire more people to embrace a lifestyle free of harmful chemicals and pesticides, Four Seasons Organic Market stocks food for babies, household cleaning sprays, personal healthcare products, health supplements, and a small selection of fresh vegetables and fruits. Some unique products you can find include flavoured protein shakes from Svelte Organic, Super Sprout green powders and Dr Niedermaier's Regulat enzyme supplements. This store has another outlet at Parkway Parade.
Tips on shopping organic
Unless you nurture your own produce in your garden, most of us won't be able to tell an organic orange from one pumped with harmful pesticides and chemicals. Here's how to shop smart.
Take note of the seasons
A quick Google search will tell you whether or not the German asparagus you've got your eye on is in season right now. Buy in season whenever possible to ensure freshness, and produce bereft of nature-defying chemicals.
Read the label
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification program that regulates how food is grown, handled and processed. Check the packaging before you buy and don't be confused by other commonly seen words like 'all natural' or 'hormone-free' – the seal can only be pasted on foods that are grown and processed according to USDA organic standards, which include growing plants with natural fertilisers in a reduced pollution setting, and incorporating sustainable farming practices.
When in doubt, don't be afraid to ask the staff at the supermarket about whether products are certified organic or if they're produced locally. Ideally, they should be knowledgeable in the lingo to help you navigate your organic food shopping experience.