Buying groceries is a familiar ritual. The overhead lighting in a too-cool air-conditioned warehouse casts the aisles in an unreal light. A zombie-like shuffle among fellow customers is polite yet disavowing, an implicit acknowledgement of estrangement even in a common struggle for the same primal purpose, food gathering. Customers turn produce over and over, looking at the individual product without recognition of how the eggplant came to be just here, in front of them, or what organic beef from Uruguay is doing in Colorado. Standing in line, the urge to eavesdrop contends with imminency: Where next? How long will this take? Should I buy high-percentage chocolate and the current issue of The Shambala Sun? The tired checkout clerks try their best to smile after long, minimum-wage hours.
Boulder, slimmest city in America, is the Fertile Crescent of organic and natural food businesses, estimated by the Boulder Economic Council’s website to have the highest per capita consumption of organic foods in the vast populations of North America. Though scientific consensus is still out as to whether or not organics have more nutritional benefits than their nonorganic counterparts, one thing that’s certain is that they contain far less pesticides and other chemicals. As a result, Boulder County has decidedly fallen in love with organic.
The USDA’s organic label, which requires products to be at least 70 percent organic, saw a 7.4 percent growth in 2012. In natural supermarkets, more than 63 percent of packaged produce was certified organic.
For organic-crazed customers with too many groceries to walk or ride, driving has been the obvious third option. But still another resource has become available in the digital age for customers with limited time or mobility: organic online groceries.
Boulder residents are in a privileged locale for organic delivery, with two locally based companies that focus on delivering organic produce to your door.
Door-to-Door Organics is a Boulder company that now operates in nine states, and offers members CSA-like produce boxes, as well as regular grocery selections.
Mile High Organics, which offers more than 3,500 products, has worked closely with the USDA to become a certified online organic retail grocer.
For customers who want to make their organic lifestyle even more sustainable, founder and owner of Mile High Organics, Michael Joseph, believes his business model actually contributes to such sustainability.
“Our model really does take cars off the road,” Joseph says, citing a study published by the University of Washington that found that online grocery delivery significantly reduces carbon emissions.
Patrons from all along the Front Range who are now using Mile High Organics range in their demographic reach “from people living paycheck to paycheck, to these grand estates in Vail,” Joseph says.
The company reuses produce containers (after, of course, cleaning and sanitizing with organic cleaning products), uses high-efficiency light bulbs in the warehouse and screens air-freight times for its products.
Mile High Organics tracks food from its point of origin to your doorstep, and has about 20 percent local products, says Joseph.