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The Middle-Of-Nowhere Health Food Store Dilemma

I have been doing almost all my grocery shopping at Whole Foods for the past twenty years. I have never been more than twenty minutes from a Whole Foods Market, and am now inwardly cringing to think that at one time, I complained that it took me such a long time to get to my favorite grocery store.


Now, we are two and a half hours away from a Whole Foods, because we are two and a half hours away from a big city in any direction. There are no mom-and-pop health food stores nearby.

So in the past year and a bit, we have been making a five-hour round trip drive to Tulsa once a month to stock up on organic groceries.

Five hours. For all practical purposes, a whole day wasted. A ridiculous amount of gas used, and pollution spat out into the environment. And of course, our son is dying of boredom most of the time, which leads him to behaving in a way that embarrasses and irritates us.

Stressful. That is what every single trip has been.

We have another option, that would be only two hours round trip once a month. We have actually availed of the option several times, because it turns out the local librarian is one of the very few people in this area who is aware that what kind of food you eat matters to your health, and she has picked up our order for us.

This option is Azure Standard.

A health food store on wheels

Azure Standard began as a farm in California several decades ago, and eventually bloomed into a health food store on wheels. If a group of people in an area of the continental United States is willing to make a collective monthly purchase of at least $500, the Azure Standard truck will drop organic food off in your locale.

You can buy pretty much anything that Whole Foods sells, at a somewhat lower price, paying something around nine percent for the delivery fee. Another appeal for those of us living in Oklahoma is that while we have to pay state tax on any food purchased in the state, we do not have to pay state tax on Azure Standard food (SHHH! Don’t tell anybody!)

Happily, there are enough people around a town an hour away who are into healthy eating to have been able to form an Azure drop-off. We’ve driven there only once. The other times, our friend picked up our order for us and we went to her home, about thirty minutes away, to retrieve the boxes of food.

Well then, you say, are you crazy? Why have you kept on going to Whole Foods?

Disadvantages of using Azure Standard (for me)

Two huge reasons. I believe in eating a high raw food, low-grain diet, and for some reason, although Azure Standard provides a variety of other fresh produce, they don’t provide fresh bananas (and they must be fair-trade). Bananas have become my carbohydrate staple, being the most inexpensive fruit on the market. Sure, you can get dehydrated bananas, but they are not raw. And the frozen bananas cost three times more than fresh organic bananas at Whole Foods.

The other reason is that with Azure Standard, you can’t always get what you ordered; or, in the case of fresh produce, it is sometimes spoiled by the time it gets to you if you’re halfway across the country (if you catch the spoilage before you go home, Azure Standard credits or refunds the cost of the item).

What do you do if you were counting on a certain kind of fresh produce (dry goods can be purchased through sunorganic.com, or azurestandard.com – but you pay through the nose in shipping)? It’s not like organic fresh produce is – excuse the metaphor – falling off every tree around here.

Our semi-final decision

We are going to try purchasing our food solely from Azure Standard for a few months. I may trade dates for bananas, if I can’t find a source of affordably-priced low-temperature dehydrated organic fair-trade bananas (I do not want to purchase bananas from one of the big companies, as they sometimes – often? – use slaves, and/or laborers who are not paid a living wage). To cushion the possibility of not receiving a particular much-wanted food, I will order extra dehydrated of something similar.

We will pay more for certain things, such as frozen berries, than we would pay at Whole Foods, but I believe the much lower stress factor of obtaining our food will be worth it. We are trying to become self-sufficient in fruit, and I think I can live with not having exactly everything I want for the next three or four years it takes to do so.

And anyway, we can’t grow bananas here, can we? 😉

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