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Moving to the Twin Cities - where to buy affordable organic produce and meat?

My husband and I are moving from Europe to the Twin Cities and are very much looking forward. We will likely settle in St. Paul. It is very important to us to eat organic food. So I'm hoping to get some good advice where to buy organic without breaking the bank. We'll be on a single income and not a large one...

I'm specifically interested if it's possible to buy bulk produce directly from the producer? Also organic chickens, half pigs/cows/sheep/goat etc directly from the farmer? Other advice?

Thanks so much for your help!
Blauer Planet

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  1. Short answer: Co-ops, CSAs (including meat CSAs) and farmer's markets. Direct from farm programs are alive and well in the Twin CIties.

    No city in the US has more, and more organized, co-ops. The more I travel, the more acutely I become aware of how dedicated we are here to eating (and living) local. Welcome!

    I'll let others tackle the long answer.

    1 Reply
    1. St. Paul Farmers Market for starters. All produce must be from within X (I think 90) miles. Most of it is organic. There is also Mississippi Market and Whole Foods (which isn't cheap).

      Others will chime in regarding meat purveyors that can sell direct, I believe there are a number of them, as well as lots of butcher shops.

      1 Reply
      1. re: semanticantics

        There are meat purveyors at the farmers market who would probably be happy to discuss their methods with a customer - the Bar 5 and Callisters people are particular favorites of mine. I have read (wish I could remember where) that in some cases, farmers may be using organic/sustainable practices but forgoing the expense of getting certified organic, so I think it's best to talk to them when you have the opportunity and see whether what they're doing jives with what you want.

        The Mississippi Markets are the major co-op in St. Paul, I believe. Depending on where you are in St. Pau (Prospect Park, Marshall Ave areas), you might also want to look at the Seward Co-op which is right across the river. The Seward also sells meat "bundles" which might interest you.

      2. Oh, and I forgot: I'm also looking for bulk flour as I plan to home bake our bread. Wheat, whole wheat, rye and spelt.

        And bulk brown rice.

        Thanks so much already for the answers.

        1 Reply
        1. re: BlauerPlanet

          BlauerPlanet -
          I live in St Paul and most of what everyone else says is true. The St. Paul Farmer's Market (in DT) is very popular. There are two Mississippi Markets (Selby-Dale) and the larger one on 7th. They both carry bulk flour, bulgar, wheat germ and other items you are probably looking for.
          I'd google if you are interested in sourcing direct for your products. There are some farms here in MN that you will be able to get direct, and as well as our neighboring WI (not far away) that you can buy in bulk.
          If you are looking for dairy products-at some of the stores, there is a brand called GrassPoint Farms. They're from Thorpe, WI and personally better tasting and better sourcing than Horizon, etc. They are certified pasteurized, not certified organic and they come with the chart table on the back as to why certified pasteurized is actually better than certified organic.
          Hope this helps!

        2. Hmm... Organic is easy, but affordable? Well, it takes some work. Organic food is (usually) more expensive.

          What about Traditional Foods Warehouse? They are a "buying club" for direct-to-consumer food, mostly meat and dairy. Does anyone know if they're still around? Their website hasn't been updated since Jan '09. (Doesn't surprise me; my impression from their grand opening is that they're confusing and disorganized.)
          http://web.me.com/willwinter/traditio...

          In any case, check out their "Products" link for farms that'll sell directly to consumers.

          And you might be interested in this blog post on "sourcing" affordable organic food - it says that it's better to join a co-op than to buy organic food at a regular supermarket.
          http://www.startribune.com/yourvoices...

          Here's info on (most of) our local co-ops:
          http://www.themix.coop/?q=locations

          Anne

          P.S. Welcome to chowhound and (soon) to the Twin Cities!

          3 Replies
          1. re: AnneInMpls

            (disclosure: member of Mississippi Market here).

            There also is the Hampden Park Coop near Raymond & University; it's smaller than either MM location, but they do have some items MM does not and may be closer to where you end up living.

            Interestingly, the rules/application I downloaded for the St. Paul Farmer's Market (available from their Web site) does not seem to specify how close the producer must be. My understanding is that the food must be produced no more than 75 miles (up from 60 in recent years as development chewed up nearby farms). Maybe it's 100 miles. Suffice to say no one will be selling you limes and magnolia plants. :-)

            And there are producers who post on craigslist offering organic eggs, chicken, etc.; you'll be dealing directly with the producer in most of those cases.

            Welcome! Despite the winter weather, we eat pretty well here!

            1. re: steve_in_stpaul

              Unfortunately , Traditional Foods Warehouse is currently locked down, was raided by the FBI/FDA, and given some citations. If they can satisfy the requirements (licensing for some vendors, and some refrigeration thing) , they might reopen but no idea when. The raid was one of many across the country focused on operations selling raw milk among other things. I really really miss the sauerkraut I got there, now I'm trying to make my own...

              1. re: faith

                I'm so sick of the Raw Milk Crackdown...especially when the filthy eggs in my state just went uncontrolled for months. @@

                Anyway, I'm really, really happy I sprang for a Harsch crock. We're eating our first batch of fermented, unpasturized kraut and loving it...it was incredibly easy, as the Harsch crocks use water to create an air-tight seal, thus no mold or "skimming" required.

                And it will last forever and longer than me, if I don't drop it!

                http://www.canningpantry.com/sauerkra...

          2. Thanks everyone for the great advice! We are looking forward to exploring all the different possibilities. It's such a nice feeling to know we're moving somewhere where quite a few people care about their foods.

            One more week... :)

            1 Reply
            1. re: BlauerPlanet

              Find yourself a copy (they're free) of Minnesota Grown Directory., put out by the MN Dept of Agriculture. In fact, get a couple copies and keep one in the glovebox of your car. It lists almost 900 farms, markets and the like in MN. Not all are organic, of course, but there are many places where you can go directly to the farmer for your meat.

              The state is broken into 5 regiona, then alpha by counties in that region. So if you're camping up north, you can check your directory and see what's up there you may want/nrrd.

              Again, they're free and can be found at most co-ops and farmers' markets.

              Or have some sent to you: www.minnesotagrown.com

              I can't live without my copies.