HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >

Discussion

Big markets that feature organic food (besides Whole Foods)??

Looking for alternative markets to Whole Foods.

I live downtown, but am willing to travel (within reason).

Thank you, Hounds!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
    1. re: WHills

      Thanks, Hills. How do they compare to WF price-wise and selection-wise?

      1. re: Liquid Sky

        Possibly soon to become the same company. WF is looking to buy WO, but it would not be a good thing if they converted them. Prices are similar. Henry's an off shoot of WO is less expensive, but only slightly.

        1. re: justagthing

          There's some kind of legal wrangle which could block the takeover of WO by WF.

        2. re: Liquid Sky

          I think Wild Oats is pretty dam expensive. So is WF, but as I recall Wild Oats is higher in the produce area.
          Go there soon, as WF is in the process of buying WO.

      2. I've been seeing serveral "Organics" brand products at my local Vons

        Also - Trader Joe's will have a fair selection of organic products (produce, etc).

        15 Replies
        1. re: The Oracle

          I am so tired of this whole discussion of organic foods...Consumer Reports came out with an artice recently(forgive me, I don't have it in front of me right now) that explained that organic is really in the eye of the beholder and that standards vary from producer to producer. Whole Paycheck uses purveyors for "Organic" cheese that other chains will not touch, because it is not organic to the same degree as another purveyor. Bottm line for me is, look for foods that are produced with a minimum of preservatives and such and don't stress over organic, because the standards and practices vary somewhat widely from producer to producer

          1. re: nyfoodjoe

            I appreciate your comments, Joe. What are your favorite markets for fresh fruit, good-quality meat and good-quality seafood at "reasonable" prices?

            Would you recommend some of the ethnic markets or farmer's markets instead?

            I have been disappointed with Trader Joe's, Ralph's and Vons regarding overall quality. (Also the customer service is really lacking at times, too.)

            Cheers.

            1. re: Liquid Sky

              Try some of the ethnic markets for your produce. I frequent the various Mexican, Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese markets as well as the farmer's markets near me.

              1. re: justagthing

                Thanks, just. Have you ever gotten meat or seafood from Grand Central Market downtown?? The meat and fish are so INEXPENSIVE there... I was worried that maybe there was a reason for that. (I was tempted to buy porterhouse steaks there, red snapper. etc.) Please weigh in on Grand Central Market.

                1. re: Liquid Sky

                  Nope, can't help you with that last question. But with the sell through that place has, it would seem ok. Never hurts to try once (usually). I don't buy a lot of beef. When I do, it just depends on my mood.

              2. re: Liquid Sky

                I just don't think there's a one-stop shop.
                For me, fruit = farmers markets. I can't bear to spend any kind of money on that horrible stuff called fruit at the supermarkets.
                Seafood = Asian markets, and also produce and some fruits.
                I don't eat a lot of meats, except chicken, and lately I've been getting really bored with the tasteless foster farms chicken from the supermarkets.

                1. re: slacker

                  Try the fresh chickens sold by the lily's eggs guy at santa monica farmer's market.

                  1. re: budlit

                    Great to hear the good review! We buy her eggs... but only recently noticed the meat she was selling... I'll have to give it a shot! :)

                    --Dommy!

                2. re: Liquid Sky

                  truthfully, I try as much as possible to buy at farmers markets(that can be difficult depending on where you live) and selected ethnic markets. Muraki here in L.A. is a Japanese market(very nice, large, clean)for example that turns over a lot of product, so it is always fresh looking. There are some small independent produce stores opening here in the South Bay ...their produce is nice(I don't understan how they make a go of it)

                  1. re: nyfoodjoe

                    Thanks to all of you. I don't eat a lot of meat, but every so often I have that STEAK craving. Also, I enjoyed the chicken at VONS, but can't help thinking that many chickens are injected with hormones!

                    Yes, wouldn't it be fantastic if we could get everything all in the same place? (sigh)

                    1. re: Liquid Sky

                      Although I am by no means defending the mass chicken producing industry, most major brands proclaim "Hormone free" on their labels. Foster Farms, for instance, says "Our poultry is natural, containing no added hormones or steroids, artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring, chemical preservatives or any other synthetic ingredient."
                      I'm sure there are other reasons cheap, commercial chicken isn't great, but I don't think hormones are a major concern. Don't know about generic, super-cheap, supermarket brand chicken though.

                      1. re: Liquid Sky

                        It is my understanding that the use of hormones is PROHIBITED in chickens. Anitbiotics, I think are okay. Also, regarding chicken, since you live downtown, have you tried the live-kill chicken places? You have a CHOICE of chickens, including the wonderful black stewing chicken. Or, even a rooster for authentic coq au vin. They also have other poultry to choose from such as quail, squab, and ducks. Some of them even have rabbits!

                  2. re: nyfoodjoe

                    That's interesting. Isn't there "certified organic" though, which offers more regulation and consistency? I'm not very knowledgable about the issue, but I would think that at least for produce there are more standards that one could expect under this label ?

                    I like getting my produce at Gelsons. Whether I've gotten it organic or not, I've always been extremely happy with Gelsons produce.

                    1. re: LisaStitch

                      I think their fish and meat departments are good too. They carry organic beef and chicken.

                    2. re: nyfoodjoe

                      I know, especially since the FDA is possibly going to allow some 36+ ingredients which are not certified organic to be included in "organic" foods. I've tried to go the organic route but if it is a lie, why pay the big $$$? Farmers market produce grown w/o pesticides is one solution, plus trying to seek out other locally, humanely grown foods.

                      (Edit: I thought I was replying to nyfoodjoe but my comments wound up further on down).

                  3. My preferred place to shop for organic/natural/high-quality food is the Sunday farmers' market in Hollywood on Ivar. I also like the Sunday farmers' market in Beverly Hills, which boasts an excellent, reasonably-priced fishmonger. (Not sure if fish qualifies as "organic" or if it even needs to, but it's good and fresh.)

                    Otherwise, I'll head to Bristol Farms -- expensive, but worth it in terms of both convenience and quality for meat, poultry, fish, cheese, and some produce.

                    www.infinitefress.blogspot.com

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: hungrygirl106

                      Okay, I will try Bristol Farms... thanks! Are they similar price-wise to Whole Foods? I think I have a love-hate relationship with Whole Foods.

                      Also I've actually had luch at the Fairfax farmer's market for meats and fruit. Never tried their seafood yet.

                      1. re: Liquid Sky

                        Bristol Farms can be more expensive than Whole Foods, but the quality is great. For basic grocery items, you're better off getting stuff elsewhere (in other words, buy your cereal at Trader Joe's), but for meat, fish, cheese, produce, etc., it's worth it.

                      2. re: hungrygirl106

                        WIld caught fish is NOT organic. Obviously there are no controls over the water or what the fishes' diet is. There are a FEW fish farms that market their fish as organic and it is VERY EXPENSIVE. I was as SM seafood the other day and WIld King Salmon is 28.99 a pound, while organic fresh frozen farmed salmon from Ireland was over 30.00 a pound. That being said, there are a couple of place the fish is being brought in from that are very clean. There is a farmed hamachi coming in from Hawaii that while it is "farmed," it is more like a free range product. They constructed 2 -200ft pilons into the oean floor, then hung nets off of them like a tent. The water in that area is really clean and the fish is excellent. The other fish worth mentioning is Tazmanian Trout which is more like a salmon. It comes from, you guessed it, the waters of Tazmania which are supposedly extremely pristine.

                        1. re: markethej

                          market: Thank you for the info! Does that mean you refuse to eat wild fish, only farmed?

                      3. The best place for organic produce is Co-opportunity in Santa Monica. You can shop there, even if you aren't a member. Right behind the "Co-op" is Erewhon on Beverly near The Grove.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Frank_Santa_Monica

                          erewhon is hit or miss. their pricing is random...some things are so much more expensive than whole foods while others are a relative steal. they do have a huge selection of vegan & raw offerings [in comparison to other l.a. markets], but the produce often looks pretty beat up.

                          they do have a really good prepare foods & deli counter though.

                        2. also in the expensive store category for organic produce is Erewhon and the natural food store in Los Feliz (name=Natureway I think???)

                          Good in a pinch. I buy a mix of organic and non-organic (from Jon's, AI or other asian market and local farmers markets)

                          The organic stuff is all about the FLAVOR not the VIRTUE of the purchase. The guy with the most organic stuff at the Sat Silverlake farmer's market had the ugliest damn cucumbers last weekend but once I cut it up I knew why I bought them. That flavor of crispness and clean bite and no bitterness. I think they were about dollar/lb or less

                          1. The obvious have already been mentioned including the equally pricy Bristol Farms and Wild Oats.

                            Gelson's is another, albeit equally priced for most things, option.

                            Vicente Foods is good as well, though not cheaper per se, but I always love their additional selection of local and/or lessert known and/or gourmet venders.

                            1. *never mind* wrong geography...

                              1. Gelson's is my go-to place.

                                Belive it or not, it's often less expensive than Whole foods, Bristol Farms, heck, even Ralph's

                                1. My overall suggestion for you is Trader Joe's, but read on...

                                  I shop oddly, if "normal" is going to a big chain market and filling up a basket with what you need. If I spend $20 a month at Albertsons (or its equivalent) it's a lot.

                                  Produce comes from farmers' markets. Many of the farmers' markets are mostly-organic or organic-only. And in California, you can't call it organic unless it complies with the CA Organic Foods Act of 1990, and you go through the time and cost of certification... so while the federal government may be allowing more weird ingredients in organic food, the CA statute trumps the federal statute. There are farmers' markets every day in the LA area, year-round.

                                  Meat comes from a butcher shop -- mine is Gem Meats in Placentia, but there are plenty of good places in LA, including Marconda Meats in the permanent Farmers' Market. Some places may have organic meat, too -- I know TJ's carries it.

                                  Fish comes either from a fishmonger (Dry Dock for me, unless I've driven to work in which case I stop at Fish King in Glendale) or from an Asian market. I have bought fish and meat at the Grand Central Market and it's fine, as long as you inspect it before you buy it -- sniff the fish and the meat for "off" flavours. Also, any Japanese market will have fish (though it may be expensive if for sushi) -- try Mitsuwa in Little Tokyo.

                                  Dairy, when we have it, usually comes from Trader Joe's, since it's next to my usual farmers' market, and their organic milk costs about what a gallon of conventional milk costs at Vons. (I usually buy grains here too, because they're very cheap.)

                                  Anything I can't get at those places I try to buy at ethnic markets because they're much cheaper. For example, when there's no farmers' market open and I need cilantro, it's $0.99 a bunch at Albertsons but usually 7 bunches for $1.00 at Northgate Gonzalez. Coconut milk is $1.89 a can at Stater Bros. but $0.59 a can at any Chinese market. Limes (real limes, not green lemons) are usually $4 a pound at Ralphs but $0.89 a pound at Gigante. Are they organic? I don't know. But the quality is always excellent, because otherwise they'd have the abuelitas and lao tai tai all up in their faces yelling about "no tienes verguenza?" or "你羞不羞!"

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    Das: Thank you for sucha detailed reply I'm happy I started this thread.

                                    Yes, I remember hunting all over downtown, looking for a bunch of ROSEMARY... and being unsuccessful.

                                    1. re: Liquid Sky

                                      Try looking in people's yards. I'm amazed at how much rosemary I find just growing all over.

                                      1. re: Diana

                                        hee, hee. We were able to do that when we lived in WeHo.

                                        Downtown is a little tougher with the yard thing...

                                  2. this is a great thread! for organic staples/non-perishables, i do my shopping online at www.shopnatural.com. i can shop while i'm at work, have it delivered to my house, and spend my running around shopping time at farmers markets, etc. i do like trader joe's for their dairy and frozen foods - i'm not much of a meat eater... gee, with a name like thevegegirl could you have guessed.. so i have no recommendations about places to get organic meats.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: thevegegirl

                                      Downtown LA next to California Plaza and it is open all day 7 days a week!

                                      1. re: barcelona

                                        You mean... a place to get meats is next to Cal Plaza? Is that another farmer's market?