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How Do We Decide What to Sell In Our Stores?

We get this question a lot! 

We’re known for having high standards when it comes to what goes on the shelves in our stores and cafés.

But what exactly do we look for in a product? How do we decide what to stock? 

Our criteria have evolved over the years, and we don’t conform to any particular food philosophy other than nutrient density and finding food as close to its natural state as possible. We’re constantly working to improve and stay on top of the science to ensure that our products are the best choices for our customers.

Here’s a closer look at how we decide what we carry and serve in our stores, Truck, and cafés.

Our Criteria: How We Vet Our Products

When we find a product we’re interested in, the first thing we do is check the ingredients. 

If we don’t know what something is, we research it before we say “yay” or “nay” because terms for ingredients frequently change and disguise themselves. (For example, did you know that soy lecithin often goes by “soya lecithin” on labels these days? Sneaky!)

When it comes to ingredients, we have a few non-negotiables that we stand by:


No Surprises

This means that our products don’t contain any ingredients that you wouldn’t expect to find in that product, especially ingredients derived from major allergens like gluten, corn, soy, dairy, tree nuts, eggs, peanuts, or shellfish. 

There’s no random gluten in a sauce, no soy or corn in potato chips, no dairy in a coconut macaroon, and no shellfish in…anything that isn’t shellfish (because that’s weird).

We’ve all had the experience of finding an interesting-looking product, then reading the ingredients and thinking “What the heck is that doing in there?” 

We want to eliminate that confusion as much as possible and give you ONLY products with ingredients that make sense.

Nothing Fake

This means we don’t stock products with ingredients like artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. If you can’t find it in nature, you probably shouldn’t be eating it, right?

Nutrient Density

This one is a little less straightforward because it’s about what IS in the product rather than what ISN’T. Nutritional density is the core of everything we do!

A lot of health food stores out there are mindful of excluding harmful ingredients, but few are mindful of including good ones.

We seek products with the best nutritional content. One way we determine this is by asking if the vendor uses high-quality ingredients that were produced or raised in such a way as to preserve the nutrients it naturally contains.

Often, this means the ingredients are whole foods, organic, and/or pastured. They’re high-quality oils and fats, whole grains, nutritious sweeteners, and other things that support good health. If they’ve been processed in a way that increases the bioavailability even better! (Quick note: bioavailability means that the nutrients are in a form that your body can actually absorb. Some natural processes like fermenting and sprouting can help with this!)

We want to ensure that the products will have the nutritional content you expect. Your orange smoothie should have lots of vitamin C. Your almond trail mix should have plenty of minerals and healthy fats. Your raw milk should have plenty of enzymes and fat-soluble vitamins your body can easily digest and absorb.

In a world where so much of our food is denatured due to poor farming and production practices, we want to deliver the value and nutrition you expect from your food and personal care products.

Does It Make Sense To Carry This Product?

Our criteria don’t stop at ingredients. Once we’ve determined that the ingredients meet our standards, we zoom out to see how the product fits in our store.

Here are some questions we consider: 

Does this product seem in line with what we’re doing? Does the brand care deeply about what they’re doing? 

We only carry products from companies whose missions resonate with us and are in line with our values of sustainability, nutrient density, and animal welfare.

We carry brands that are intentional about their entire process, from what they’re creating to how they’re presenting it.

We look for products that are truly high-quality. We want to work with brands that share the same mission as us. This requires getting to know their story and the people behind the label, often visiting their kitchen or farm to see how they do things. 

Does it fill a gap? Do we already carry something like this? Is this the best type of this product we can find?

It doesn’t make sense for us to carry 27 different brands of salad dressing, even if they are all amazing. We’re not a big store, so we have to make choices and look for the best we can find of that particular product. 

Is it exceptional enough to justify the time, effort, and shelf space? 

Can our customers easily find this product elsewhere? If you can get it at any grocery store, we’d rather reserve our shelf space for amazing products you might not know about yet.

Q and A

Why don’t you carry ______ anymore?

If you’ve been a customer for a while, you’ve probably noticed that our product set has shifted over time.

We don’t set our standards in stone because we believe in flexibility, staying on top of the science, and doing what makes sense. 

We might discontinue or phase out products for a few different reasons: 

One of these reasons is that our standards change based on scientific research. We stay on top of the science to know which ingredients to stock and which to discontinue. For example, we no longer carry agave because it was found to have a very high glycemic index, which can negatively impact blood sugar. 

This doesn’t mean we just follow trends. We don’t nix an ingredient the second an article comes out that suggests that it might not be great for you. We carefully read and vet the actual studies (not just articles other people have written about the stories) and make decisions when the evidence is strong 

We strive to stay aware and keep up with the research without being fickle. We stay aware, but we don’t just go wherever the wind blows us. 

Sometimes, companies change their ingredients. If the new ingredients no longer align with our standards, we phase out that product. For example, one product we’ve carried for years has started including soy lecithin instead of sunflower lecithin. So, we’ve stopped carrying it.

Eventually, many companies outgrow us. We primarily support small companies whose products might be hard to find elsewhere. In many cases, we’ve been the first in the state (or ever) to stock products that are now widespread and easy to find. When a company reaches that level, we clear that space for other incredible, emerging companies who share our mission so our customers can discover them. 

Why do you carry products that contain [insert controversial ingredient here]?

We don’t subscribe to any particular food philosophy or program other than nutritional density. 

Though we have our roots in the work of Weston Price, not everything we carry is in line with those suggestions. We also aren’t keto, paleo, low-carb, sugar-free, raw, plant-based, etc. (But you’ll still find plenty of good stuff in our stores if that’s what you’re looking for!)

Not all of our grains are sprouted and fermented. We do use flour. Some of our products are sweetened. We sell organic miso (as of now) because we believe organic, fermented soy products can be good for you.

We also don’t cut out any food groups like grains (including those containing gluten), meat, natural sugars, or dairy. (If you haven’t noticed, we’re big fans of raw dairy!) 

Our goal is to provide the very best we can find of a given food and allow our customers to decide what’s best for them.

Why isn’t everything in your store organic?

The label isn’t the whole story.

We don’t worry about labels, and we work to avoid greenwashed products. Organic certification is expensive and financially out of reach of many of our partners even if their methods meet (or in many cases, exceed) the requirements. After all, we aren’t certified organic either!

Instead, we get to know the vendors and learn about their production practices to determine whether they align with our values and are the best products we can provide to our customers.

We Choose Every Product Carefully

image of Sugarhouse store.

This may have cleared things up for you, or it may not have. 

When it comes right down to it, our mission is simply to provide the most nutritious food we can find or raise, and we seek companies who do the same.

We put care into every buying decision we make because we want to do what’s best for our customers. You don’t have to read a million labels because each product in your basket or on your café plate has been thoroughly vetted and is there for a good reason. 

We’re intentional about what we offer and how we offer it because we believe food is life-giving, and shopping for good food shouldn’t be hard!

The bottom line is, you can trust the products you discover here. If we carry it, you know it’s special.

We’re always happy to answer questions. We’re also always on the lookout for amazing new products. 

If you have a product or brand you think would be a good fit for our stores or cafés, you’re welcome to reach out to [email protected].

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