Thursday, December 8, 2011

Buying Organic Food in Kingsport, Tennessee

One of the wonderful articles that really need to be online, that are no longer available from Yahoo...

If you're looking for organic food in Kingsport, Tennessee, the telephone directory may be discouraging. (There is no category for organic foods in the local phone book.) It's still true that the best way to get organic foods in this area is to be very, very nice to local small farmers...or depend on the organically grown, but processed, pre-packaged products in big-chain stores like Kroger's and Food City. However, the demand for organic foods is growing, and a few locally owned stores are responding. Here are four good options plus one to avoid...
Organic Food Resource in Kingsport #1. Good Food Grocery
Good Food Grocery Natural Foods
1425 East Center Street, Kingsport
This small downtown grocery store offers "a few selections of organic foods." They don't have fresh produce or a full line of bulk foods. They do have organically grown, pre-packaged products like oil, cereal, grains and flours, cereals, rice, dried fruit, peanut and almond butter, and fruit juice. When asked about their sales of organic foods, a store employee said that currently "Organic cherry juice is a big seller because of the 'Dr. Oz' show." They also sell "health and beauty" products made from organically grown materials.
The Good Food Grocery stocks many products from your favorite suppliers of organically grown food, such as Arrowhead Mills and Bob's Red Mill flour and meal, Bragg's apple cider vinegar, Eden Foods, Kashi cereals, Ener-G gluten-free vegan products, and so on. If you don't see what you're looking for on the shelf, they'll order it for you. They have lots of gluten-free and dairy-free foods.
Although it's not classified as organic, regular readers may be interested in knowing that I've tried the gluten-free cake mix this store sells. It bakes up like a wheat-based cake mix and can take a little extra flavoring if you're a gluten-free person who eats cake often enough to get bored with white cake.
Organic Food Resource Near Kingsport #2. Health Barn
Health Barn
3116 E Oakland Avenue, Johnson City
Web site:
This store and the next one are less than half an hour away from Kingsport, and some people from Kingsport think they're worth the trip. The Health Barn is what comes to my mind when I think of "a local health food store."
I didn't drive down there while checking the information for this article. I called, and talked to a chatty member of the management team who gave me a long list of organic foods you can buy at The Health Barn...
Fresh fruits and vegetables, mostly shipped from Glad Heart Farms in North Carolina although some of them were grown elsewhere: Apples, bananas, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, tangerines, pineapples, pomegranates; avocados, broccoli, beets, carrots, celery, garlic, ginger, onions, potatoes, romaine lettuce, and tomatoes.
Hamburger meat from Graceburg Hill Farms.
Free-range eggs and chicken from local suppliers--not necessarily certified organic, though.
Frozen fruit and vegetables from Welsh Family Farms, Woodstock Farms, and Tree of Life.
Organic cheese and milk from Organic Valley.
Organic soups from Pacific, Amy's, and Health Valley.
Organic cereals from Nature's Path.
Organic salsa from Drew's and Rising Moon.
Organic coffee from Cafe Altura.
Organic pickles from Tree of Life, and organic sauerkraut.
Salad dressings from Organic Villa and Seeds of Change.
Sunflower, safflower, sesame, canola, and coconut oils.
Organic molasses from "Wholesome" (in Texas).
Organic flours and meals from Arrowhead Mills and Bob's Red Mill.
Organic canned beans from Westbrae.
Organic coconut milk from Thai and Native Forest.
Organic pasta, including some DeBoles gluten-free rice pastas.
Organic spaghetti sauce.
Organic banana chips.
Organic fresh-ground peanut butter.
Organic cocoa and chocolate syrups.
The store also sells spices and whole grains and beans in bulk, and has some herbs. There's a selection of gluten-free and/or dairy-free products, including Ener-G.
Organic Food Resource Near Kingsport #3. Natural Foods Market
Natural Foods Market
3211 Peoples Street, Johnson City
Web site:
Googling this store made me chuckle. Someone had posted that "the prices are high, but there is not a lot of choice in Johnson City for natural foods." See above. However, this store tends to promote things that the other natural foods store in Johnson City may not have. Asked about current produce choices, a store employee said, "Baby greens...pears, on occasions...alfalfa sprouts...sweet potatoes...we even have strawberries right now, from Florida."
The store carries popular brands of pre-packaged organically grown foods like Horizons, Arrowhead Mills, Bob's Red Mill, and Bragg's. Local eggs are "not certified organic, but free-range." There's also a selection of gluten-free foods, some classified as organic and some not, including tofu-based noodles and sometimes corn-based pasta. A store employee wanted to mention that the store guarantees all its products.
This store tries to provide the community with services and information as well as food. Recipes and nutrition news can be found on the web site or in the store. (Actually, some recipes and nutrition information can be found at the Good Food Grocery and Health Barn stores, too.) There's a book section in the store and online. This is a place to look for books by Patricia Bragg (of Bragg's Liquid Aminos fame), Dr. Michael Murray, the late Dr. John Lee (What Your Doctor Didn't Tell You About Menopause), western Tennessee's own Sandor Katz (Wild Fermentation), and the Hallelujah Acres enterprise.
"What is Hallelujah Acres?" Fifteen or twenty years ago, my mother's church hosted a lecture by an elderly cancer survivor who wanted to try living on the land and eating natural, mostly raw foods. Why Christians Get Sick is even a Book You Can Buy From Me, although AC hasn't published a review of it yet. I hadn't heard any more from the Malkmus family, or seen any listing for their farm in Eidson, Tennessee, and had assumed that Mr. Malkmus would have retired, if not died, by now. When I talked to a clerk at this store, I found out otherwise. "He's in his late eighties, if not nineties, but he's still active--even expanding--they've bought more land and are doing some sort of cooperative farms now." Check out what the family have to say about themselves here.
Organic Food Resource in Kingsport #4. Wednesday Market
This is at the back of the library parking lot, between Sullivan and Center Streets, when weather and local food supplies permit. Not all of the farm produce available on any given day is organic--as far as I could tell when I've been there, most of it was not--but it is local, and there can be a good selection of fresh fruit and veg if you get there early in the morning during the season. This is an open-air flea market limited to Tennessee farm produce only, and absolutely no guarantees can be made about what you'll find on any given day...but it's worth checking out if you're in downtown Kingsport.
Regretful Thumbs Down on The Shouting Sprout
The Shouting Sprout Natural & Organic Food Store
3170 Linden Drive, Bristol, Virginia
There is, or at least used to be, an actual store by this name. They even used to stock Grandma Bonnie's Veggie Burgers. However, when I tried to verify the contact information and find out whether produce was available, the phone wasn't working. The local phone company said they didn't currently have a phone number for this business, but had current listings for other businesses in the same building. Those phones weren't working either. So I looked up their web site. It links to one of those free hosting sites, and when the page opened it showed absolutely nothing about The Shouting Sprout store.

That was last winter, when I wrote an earlier version of this article for Yahoo. In the updating process, I tried the web site again. Now it links to a page saying that the site's not available. Now my phone's not working, and I still exist; and Grandma Bonnie Peters' "store" page, which also linked to one of those free hosting sites, blinked in and out of existence and never really worked for all the years when she was producing and selling Veggie Burgers. So it's possible that the store existed last winter, and exists now...but I can't confirm anything about that from here.

If anybody out there has any more information about The Shouting Sprout, will you please share it so I can either remove or improve this write-up.