Yesterday, I attended a special media and marketing presentation at the new Natural Grocers
on 1216 W. Baptist Road, in Monument. This location replaces the now-closed, nearby shop at 655 W. Highway 105.
A store manager said the old staff plus new-hires compose the new store's work force, and that the space is twice the size of the former.
Inside the presentation, company director of nutrition education Karen Falbo
lectured on everything from the company's lengthy history — since 1955, opening its 100th store soon in Scottsdale, Arizona, still majority family owned though it went public in 2012 — to modern food politics and health-and-wellness principles.
Karen Falbo lectures from a new in-store kitchen and conference room.
I'll say with transparency that I've been a regular Natural Grocers shopper for many years now, because on the whole I've found their prices to be much better than competitors like Whole Foods and even King Soopers and Safeway for many products. And on the whole, I choose to pay the premium for organic and truly sustainably-raised products at-home. (Though when I'm out food-reviewing for the Indy
, I'm at the marketplace's mercy, where factory-farmed proteins
and chemical-laden veggies
are the norm).
Anyway, Falbo pointed out some cool aspects to the company, such as living wage with full benefits for employees: for example $12 and hour for cashiers, which includes an extra $30 in-house shopping stipend weekly and store discounts.
Also: She says Natural Grocers works closely with its suppliers to ensure ingredient integrity, going so far as to drop companies who don't meet their rigid standards, and work with those willing to switch to substitute inputs. In fact our guest packet included an 8-page handout titled "Things Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Does NOT Carry and Why."
The new location is just a little south from the former, just off I-25 at Baptist Road.
The company offers free monthly classes
at each location, and each location also hosts a nutritional coach on staff that's available to the public for tours, consultation, community outreach and more.
"This is about changing our food system" Falbo said at one point, amidst a litany of health topics that included encouraging talk of holistic land management practices; concern over organophophates
in our bodies and the environment; proper omega-6 and omega-3 ratios
and inflammatory foods; desertification
and carbon cycles
"But a food revolution is happening," she argues, urging that "it's time for us to become food citizens — to know who we're supporting when we buy food."
Which gets back to Natural Grocers of course. The simplified message would be when you shop with them, you don't have to worry about any of the products you buy in-store, because their staff has already vetted them and vouched for the authenticity of ingredients and farming and ranching practices.
By voting with your dollar here, you support these same agriculture people and help direct the marketplace toward better standards across the board.
Now, it may sound like I've totally drank the Kool-Aid here, but bear in mind that Natural Grocers wouldn't serve that because of the artificial food coloring, for one. ... Besides, they served us green tea-coconut water-lemonade sweetened with stevia.