« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Published May 21 2010

From the ‘Organic Cupboard’

ENDERLIN, ND – Chiropractor Maggie Peterson gives her patients the kind of nutrition pointers that helped her lose 50 pounds and boost her energy.

The key themes: Cut out processed food and artificial ingredients; add organic, locally grown food. But her patients grumbled they had to journey an hour to shop in Fargo or Jamestown.

So about a year and a half ago, she came up with a solution: “Organic Cupboard,” a grocery that taps a dozen local producers to offer the kind of food Peterson champions.

The store might seem like a risky venture in a North Dakota town of 1,000 where local, organic food doesn’t have much of a track record. But Peterson says business had been good.

“People think that’s something folks in Minneapolis would be interested in, but it really isn’t,” Peterson says. “People are looking for these products right here.”

It all started with a personal transformation. In 2005, Peterson began pursuing a wellness chiropractor certification. She learned about the powerful effects of a balanced, natural diet, and she used the lessons to overhaul her own eating habits.

It meant Peterson, who weighed 230 pounds at her high school graduation, didn’t have to count calories. She just reached for wholesome foods. Effortlessly, she slimmed down and saw her energy level shoot up.

“I hadn’t even planned to lose weight,” recalls the mom of a 4-year-old. “I’d planned to live a lifestyle that made sense.”

These days, her chiropractor business website features before and after photos of her. To patients, she extols the nutritional virtues of vine-ripened veggies and warns against the “Dirty Dozen,” produce such as strawberries and lettuce that tend to have the most pesticide residue.

“The food you put in is the performance you get out,” she likes to say.

But she understood her patients’ reluctance to trek to Fargo for day-to-day shopping. That’s how Organic Cupboard was conceived, under the motto: “From Our Cupboard to Yours.” Peterson lined up a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to install energy-efficient geothermal heating and other green features in the store.

The store offers locally grown pork, grass-fed beef and lamb and fresh organic produce as well as a variety of dairy- and gluten-free products. Peterson says it already has a loyal following in town and the surrounding areas. She paid off the initial inventory loan in the first year.

Last year, Tamra Kriedeman supplied dill, broccoli, green beans, squash and zucchini from her organic farm just outside Enderlin.

She says local, organic food is catching on in the heart of North Dakota: A farmer’s market she cofounded in town doubled in size last summer over the previous year.

“I think a lot of people are becoming more interested in knowing where their food comes from,” Kriedeman says. “They want clean food.”

Peterson hopes her business will encourage more area farmers to explore organic and sustainable ways of growing food. She has many ideas for new offerings. Since she can’t seem to find time to offer cooking classes, she might post videos on her Web site, familychironmassage.com.

Says Peterson, “We’re always expanding our line of products and trying new things.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mila Koumpilova at (701) 241-5529