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Recently, we highlighted the best 35 Supermarkets in America for 2016. In an effort to provide readers with the ability to find the healthiest food, we’ve decided to create a new subset of this list. Thus, we present to you The Top 11 Health Food Stores in the United States.
While all favorites lists are subjective, we can tell you that all 11 stores featured on this list provide some of the healthiest edibles (and drinkables) out there. Offering things like sustainable wild-caught fish from top companies, every variety of organic salad green you could ever want, a slew of health-promoting dark chocolates, and more, a health food store is defined as any store that offers nutritionally sound, environmentally conscious products and does its best to reduce humankind's footprint. If you’ve ever been to a supermarket that just feels hip (perhaps one that doesn’t provide plastic bags but does offer freshly made juices), you’ve probably been to a health food store as defined by us.
You’ll certainly recognize some of the large, national chains on this list, but many of the healthiest stores in our country are smaller chains with just a handful of locations. We’ve compiled this list using various other lists on the internet as well as information from sources like the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association, filtering the information for what we believe to be the best of the best based on sustainable practices, customer and community integration and education, allergy-related mindfulness, and, of course, availability of the healthiest types of food. Say goodbye to GMOs and hello to health.
The 25 Best and Worst Snacks at Trader Joe’s aren’t necessarily all foods made from purely healthy ingredients. With locations across the entire country and food styles from around the globe, however, Trader Joe’s has made a name for itself. Nearly 80 percent of its offerings have a TJs (as the chain is lovingly called by many) logo, and it claims that every Trader Joe’s product is GMO-free. Just because your food comes from Trade Joe’s certainly doesn’t mean it is healthy, but the nutritionally sound offerings are some of the best out there.
Sprouts Farmers Market/Yelp
Sprouts Farmers Market’s website has a saying on it: “It’s healthy living for less!” Sprouts offers organic Sprouts Brand products, each example coming with a 100 percent money back guarantee. The store is committed to operating as a socially and environmentally responsible business, always striving to improve on both fronts.
Big Bear Natural Foods has three locations in New Jersey and two in Pennsylvania. Each of Big Bear’s stores believes in bringing healthy, natural, and organic food to its community at affordable prices. Big Bear discounts nearly everything in its stores daily, and it truly believes in the healing power of vitamins, herbs, and aromatherapy. Each store carries only certified organic produce so you never have to question the integrity of the fruits and vegetables you’re buying.
Fairway Market started in 1933 as a simple fruit and vegetable stand. Today, Fairway Market has achieved excellence and recognition as an industry leader; it was listed as Inc.’s top 5,000 fastest private growing companies for 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Recently, however, the grocery chain filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Fairway expects no interruption in service for its 15 groceries and four wine and spirits stores during this process. Fairway offers an immense variety of organic and natural foods and products in every category (more details on why going organic can be beneficial here), so be sure to check them out the next time you’re in Manhattan, northern New Jersey, Brooklyn, Long Island, or Stamford, Connecticut.
Organic foods can be incredibly expensive, but Wild Oats Marketplace believes in making human- and planet-friendly organics more affordable. Wild Oats’ own products adhere to the strictest standards of quality, following USDA guidelines for organic certification, following global food safety standards, and banning 125 unwanted ingredients (you might want to pass on foods with these nine ingredients in particular) from all of its organic products. Similarly, non-organic Wild Oats product sources ban the same 125 unwanted ingredients and follow global food safety standards.
You can’t have a list of healthy grocers without including Whole Foods. From a wide array of clean snacks under 200 calories to its own 365 products (our Whole Foods 365 taste test can be found here), Whole Foods has everything necessary to make it the nationally dominating large-scale health food store. As stated on its website, “At Whole Foods Market, ‘healthy’ means a whole lot more. It goes beyond good for you, to also encompass the greater good. Whether you're hungry for better, or simply food-curious, we offer a place for you to shop where value is inseparable from values.”
Good Harvest Market is the smallest health food store on this list. With one location in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, Good Harvest is able to provide the utmost care and attention to its natural products, its impact, and its community. The store was built using recycled materials and with as many energy-efficient components as possible. The heat from the refrigeration units, for instance, is used to heat the store, reducing carbon emissions. In fact, Good Harvest pays for 100 percent renewable energy through the We Energies Energy for Tomorrow program. No plastic bags have ever been used for packing groceries; instead, paper or reusable canvas bags are always used. When it comes to the steadily growing sustainability movement, Good Harvest Market is at the forefront.
San Francisco’s two Bi-Rite Market locations use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. By doing so, they’ve become a Certified B Corporation (comparable to what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk). Bi-Rite believes in impeccable, trustworthy social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency, an issue that’s becoming more and more prevalent in our country each day. Offering sustainable meats and responsible, local produce, Bi-Rite is constantly evaluating how its practices impact its employees, its community, the environment, and its guests, and it advocates a positive impact on the food systems of America.
Chicago’s premier locally sourced food hub, Local Foods, is more than a market. The 17,000-square-foot space houses a public market, a meat mecca called The Butcher & Larder (Chicago’s first sustainable whole-animal butcher shop), a seasonal staple Stock café, and a lineup of cooking classes and workshops. Partnering with hundreds of Midwestern farmers and food artisans to bring you the freshest produce, breads, cheeses, dry goods, and more, it’s clear that Local Foods is passionate about good food.
Kimberton Whole Foods - Melvern/Yelp
Each Kimberton Whole Foods (not to be confused with Whole Foods Markets) feels like the mom-and-pop grocery store you’ve always dreamed of visiting, with locally grown, harvested, raised, roasted, baked, and brewed products taking places of pride on each shelf. Its five stores, all in the greater Philadelphia area, care for the earth by promoting organic and biodynamic farming methods. Kimberton Whole Foods stores also conduct business in a respectful and ethical manner while building strong cooperative ties within the larger community. Supporting each individual’s quest to learn more about conscious choices and healthy living, this Pennsylvania gem is a top influencer in the world of healthy eating.
LifeSource Natural Foods/Yelp
LifeSource Natural Foods is the only independent and locally owned all-organic and -natural food store in Salem, Oregon. If you’re wondering how a single store can top this list, we’ll help you understand why:
Since 1994, it has been providing the Salem community with healthy foods, natural products, nutritional supplements, and all of the information one needs to live a healthy, productive life. LifeSource tops our list because of its dedication to providing an abundant variety of organics, locally grown and produced foods, and chemical- and preservative-free options, as well as safe and natural body care and beauty products.
It promotes fairly traded foods and products that come from sources where there’s no known child labor and a reasonable quality of life for workers and animals, and it stays far away from animal-tested products. The store only produces goods free of artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors, and preservatives, and none of its products have hydrogenated oils or trans fats.
Suffer from anything on our list of The Most Common Food Allergies (And Their Warning Signs)? LifeSource caters to gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and sugar-free foods as well as low- and no-sodium and raw food requirements. Still wondering how a store with one location can top the list?