Good Morning everyone,
Last Saturday I was walking around the store with Matt (General Manager at our Baymeadows store) and we were discussing our standards for each department. Matt informed me that he is approached by customers who say how much they appreciate all the research that we do, but can he define our standards to them. Whenever they ask us about the quality of a particular product, they are happy with all the research we do in looking at whether or not to carry that specific item, but want clarification on what we are looking for overall.
The easiest answer I can give everyone starts by looking around our stores. We have posters up in each department defining our overall department standards. There is definitely more to it than these statements, but it is the ground work on where we begin. Today, I will outline our across the board standards and point out some standards unique to individual departments.
We NEVER carry products with:
Genetically Modified Ingredients (GMOs)
Hydrogenated Oils (except for Tofutti Slices requested for children with Autism)
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Artificial Flavors, Colors, and/or Dyes
Antibiotics in Dairy & Meat Products
Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (RBGH)
Products from Cloned Animals
The hardest and most important standard Native Sun has that makes our store unique is that we are relentless about our quest to avoid any products with GMOs. With every other standard, we know to avoid “this” or be sure to have “that”, but with GMOs the honest answer is we try our best to avoid them. I believe GMO ingredients have no place in the grocery yet they lurk in almost 100% of grocery stores across our country. I believe that you should know where your food comes from and with GMOs our government does not ask this. People are getting sick and the doctor’s don’t know what is wrong. If you cannot find out what a person has consumed then how can you look at all aspects of healing? I will discuss the issue of GMOs further in another blog entry at a later date.
The fact is, GMOs aren’t labeled anywhere on the package and manufacturers don’t know what ingredients are GMO and therefore cannot look out for them. We at Native Sun are constantly reviewing where possible GMO foods are coming from and ask all of our manufacturers to get in writing where their products are sourced. We do not bring in products with GMO contamination. If an ingredient changes in a product and it is now GMO, we search for a replacement product and discontinue the affected product.
Below, I’ve listed a few more of Native Sun’s standards by department:
• Our Produce is always 100% organic – You will never have to worry about organic produce commingling with its chemical counterpart.
• Our produce bags are made from biodegradable plastic – One time use plastic is not good, but this is a step in the right direction.
• We use only reverse osmosis water to spray our produce – Why spray chemically treated city water on organic produce?
• We use only Certified Organic produce farmers and distributors – This leaves no chance of cross contamination in the warehouse or farm.
• We do not have a non-organic floral department near our produce – Too many times, I’ve see customers walk through and track pesticide residue from a non-organic floral department that warms you over as you enter the store and then into the produce department.
• We use only 100% organic fruit and vegetables – Most stores only use organic fruits and vegetables when available, but at Native Sun it is always available!
• We do not soak our fruits in sugar water – Yes it tastes good, but doesn’t make a healthy drink with all the added white sugar.
• We use agave nectar as our additional sweetener, if needed – Agave is low on the glycemic scale but tastes great!
• All milks, soy milks, and other additions are either organic or GMO-free depending on what the healthiest choice is in-store.
• All of our juice bar cups and lids are biodegradable.
• We use only reverse osmosis water
Meat and Seafood:
• We only carry wild ocean fish – Farmed fish have too many issues.
• The only farmed fish we carry is fresh water tilapia – This fish is only available farmed and we have sourced ours to be free of growth hormones and antibiotics. There is also no carbon monoxide used while packaging.
• All rubs, marinades, and sauces sold in our Meat & Seafood Department are organic and the sauces are made in house using only organic ingredients.
• All of our chicken is hormone free and antibiotic free – While customers often choose natural due to the cost, we always offer organic chicken as well.
• We offer grass-fed, organic beef -We believe grass fed beef is better for you as majority of the cow’s diet is grass, giving proper nutrition to the meats.
*Commercial fish farming practices vary from farm to farm but may include the following: antibiotics, pesticides, concentrated fish pellets that are high in mercury, and GMOs.
• We only use 100% organic fruits and vegetables from our own produce department.
• All ingredients such as oils, spices, herbs, & condiments are organic.
• Our meats and fish come from our own Meat & Seafood Department, thus having the same standards as mentioned above.
• Our wraps and the Vegenaise we use are both GMO free – While we’d like to use organic wraps, we’ve found over the years that most of them have food coloring added, but we do use grape seed oil-based Vegenaise which is a more heart healthy product than its soy based counterpart.
• We check for GMOs in supplements – Yes, this includes the capsules made from corn.
• We decided what to carry by talking to the experts – Customer testimonials are great but they are too subjective.
• We do not sell multi-level marketing products – There are some good ones out there, but their cost model is too inflated for our customers.
• We scrutinize raw materials to insure that you get the most natural and effective products out there – I will write further on this subject in the future discussing our tours of the manufacturer’s facilities.
• We read the hype, but look for science in what we carry.
• We believe in ongoing education for our customers and staff.
As you can see, even when I try and abbreviate our standards for you, this process is lengthy, but I feel it is important. After 13 years of running Native Sun this way, I assumed that you knew we always banned artificial flavors and colors, synthetic preservatives, and the other more obvious unnatural food ingredients, but forget that food in the “real” world is loaded with these nasty ingredients and so often go unnoticed.
Our standards have only become stricter over the years as new food ingredients have been called into question. This keeps us on our toes. I don’t think our process is perfect, but who else is trying to do all this? I see this as our duty to our customers and the community and hope you find this service valuable.
Have a great day,