Ah, Arizona! The land of rich soil, green grass, and rivers of flowing crystal clear water!
…and by that I mean lots of scorpions, scorching dry heat, and the occasional sprinkling of rain.
I was born n’ raised here in Arizona, and to us native-raised folks, the desert is our home. Sure scorpions aren’t fun (even though I have a natural remedy for that) and by mid-August temps of 120 we are all making plans to relocate, but other than that, there are some great perks to living in Arizona! The availability of real food just happens to be a great perk of living here. Today I’ve decided to share some of my favorite sources of real food. From raw dairy, to grass-fed meats, to fresh local produce and local raw honey, I’ve got some good sources up my sleeve just for you!
Finding Real Food Sources in Arizona
I’m going to divide my real food sources into food categories, which will make it easier for everyone! In each category, I’ll list the real food sources in order of most favorite to least favorite. All of these are my favorite, but the one’s listed at the top are my FAVORITE-FAVORITE. Got it? I’ll also update this list as I find more and more sources and vendors who give me free stuff. Just kidding. I actually never get free stuff from local sources and I wasn’t paid to write this article or link to anyone. I personally like to support local farmers and people who are striving to provide real food in a time when it’s pretty scarce! GO LOCAL FARMERS!
***Word of Caution*** Remember that you can’t be perfect. Find the best food you can find and make peace with the fact that you aren’t Sacajawea. Read my Good-Better-Best Principle Infographic to find the best food without going crazy!
Raw Milk Sources in Arizona:
We actually raise our own goats from which we freshly squeeze raw milk each morning and night. I make mozzarella, ricotta, & chevre (also known as goat cheese), as well as yogurt with our goat’s milk. Here are some sources I recommend if you can’t milk your own animal.
Q. Isn’t raw milk illegal in Arizona?
A. Yes and no. It’s illegal to sell raw milk if you are not certified by the State to do so. You are free to own a goat or cow and drink your its milk, the problem lies when you try to sell it for human consumption without becoming certified first. Many farms are now becoming certified to sell raw milk so you don’t have to ride the underground raw dairy railroad to find high quality raw milk. (Some people do still sell raw milk without being certified and will get around this by stating on their packaging “not for human consumption”)
Q. How do people “grass-feed” in the desert?
A. Because we don’t have rolling hill of green grass, in Arizona we feed alfalfa as our green foliage. Technically, alfalfa is a bush and not grass, but it’s the best we can do here. Alfalfa is rich in minerals and has high protein content. Many farmers will supplement with Bermuda or Timothy grass as well as some Barley grain to supplement their nutritional needs.
- Fon du Lac Farms – NOW SELLING AT SPROUTS! – The reason Fon du Lac Farms are my favorite-favorite is because they not only own Brown Swiss cows (which is an heirloom breed), they also only raise A2 cows. A2 refers to the beta casein in cow’s milk that makes cows milk much easier to digest. The A2 line was bred out of cows and now many farmers are trying to breed the A2 line back in because A2 is the casein that is most desired. In fact, A2 is the beta casein in goat’s milk, which is one of the reasons why goat’s milk is the best. (wink, wink) Short story = If you’re going to drink cow’s milk, then A2 raw grass-fed the best of the best. Of the best. Fon du Lac qualifies in all those three areas and even sells at local Sprouts now in Arizona, so win-win!
- Save Your Dairy – Queen Creek, AZ. – Save Your Dairy is another certified raw dairy in Arizona. They feed their cows organic alfalfa as well, but they raise primarily Holsteins, which most likely contain the A1 beta casein. Now, this isn’t a HUGE deal, but those that have trouble digesting cow’s milk, may want to steer clear of cows with the A1 line. They provide drop offs around the valley so customers don’t have to drive all the way to Queen Creek to buy their raw milk!
- Crow’s Dairy – Phoenix, AZ. – Crow’s Dairy is a goat farm located in Phoenix that provides great-tasting goat’s milk! They understand that it’s important to follow certain guidelines to make sure the goat’s milk doesn’t taste, well…goaty. They also provide drop offs around the valley.
- Other local sources of Raw Dairy in Arizona – You can visit this page to find all raw milk sources in Arizona
Cheese, Butter, Yogurt, & Kefir Sources in Arizona
We make our own mozzarella cheese, yogurt & kefir, but purchase things like cheddar cheese & butter. With homemade products, you will need to purchase cultures and supplies from online stores before you begin.
- Kefir, Kombucha and Sourdough Staters – Real Food In the East Valley. Join this group and ask for what you need!
- Raw Cheese – SPROUTS or AZURE STANDARD – I purchase raw milk cheddar cheese straight from sprouts. Since most of our cheese is from our homemade mozzarella, we don’t purchase a lot, but when we do, we love the raw milk selection at Sprouts. The main things I look for in cheese is that it’s rBST-free, which means it’s hormone-free, and that it comes from organic or grass-fed sources (both is a plus). Finally, the raw factor is something we value, so we’re happy to find raw milk cheese at our local Sprouts! Azure Standard is a once-a-month bulk ordering system a lot like Costco.
- Butter – COSTCO – Because cream is seasonal, and it’s hard to find a local dairy here that will sell pure cream, I purchase our grass-fed butter from Costco because I specifically like the Kerrygold Brand. Costco has the best price I’ve been able to find, at around $7 for 3 lbs. Kerrygold is sold at Sprouts, but it’s really expensive! I only buy it there if I’m in a pinch. Kerrygold butter isn’t raw, but it’s low-temp pasteurized, which is the next best thing. You also have the option to buy ghee instead of butter (see below.)
- Yogurt – I highly recommend making yogurt homemade. It’s really easy to do! All you need is a culture and you’re good to go. If you must buy, the best once I’ve found is Nancy’s Brand. You can purchase it at SPROUTS or AZURE STANDARD.
- Kefir – Kefir is another one I highly recommend making at home. It’s even easier than yogurt my friend! The same rules apply; you just need a culture (often called kefir grains) to make it. If you must buy, Sprouts does sell a kefir brand, but I can’t vouch for any of the other ingredients in it, so be sure to check the label before you buy to make sure there aren’t any other fillers or additives.
Egg Sources in Arizona
Eggs are an easy one! There are many, many people who sell high quality eggs in Arizona. Since we raise our own chickens, I don’t have to worry about this food source either. My tips on finding high quality eggs is that you make sure the chickens are fed an organic feed. On top of that, a lot of chicken owners (myself included) strive to feed our chickens a non-soy feed. We all purchase from a bulk order co-op in Phoenix to get the best chicken feed available. When making decision between cage-free, free-range, or pasture-raised, check out this video here first to understand the difference. When searching for a source, I’d recommend something as simple as your local ads. As long as somebody has a nice pasture for them to forage in and they feed a high-quality feed, I’d be happy to purchase eggs from them!
Meat Sources in Arizona
We provide our own chicken & lamb, but purchase beef & pork because we don’t have enough land to raise our own. Here are my top sources for high-quality meat:
- Chicken, Turkey, & Duck – Davis Family Organic Farm or SPROUTS (They carry organic, free-range chicken, and a cheaper chicken that is labeled natural/antibiotic-free). Adams Natural Meats also has these, as well as grass fed local beef and bison sides.
- Beef – Rockin’ R Farms
- Pork – Davis Family Organic Farm – It’s extremely hard to find high quality pork, so I really try to purchase in bulk from here. The only exception is when I purchase Applegate bacon or pepperoni from SPROUTS.
- Lamb – Double Check Ranch
Wildcaught Seafood Sources in Arizona
Seafood is probably the toughest one to find in Arizona. Since we’re in the desert, it’s tough to get a good fresh, source, although you can get what you need from the choices below!
- Kenny the Fishhugger
- Whole Foods
- AJ’s Fine Foods
- Local Farmer’s Markets (see below)
- Local Asian Markets – Click here for full listings
Fruit & Vegetable Sources in Arizona
We try to grow as much of our own food as possible, but in the fruits & vegetable area, it’s hard to grow everything ourselves. The benefit of Arizona is that you can pretty much grow year round here! If you’re looking to just purchase organic fruits & veggies, WHOLE FOODS & SPROUTS carry plenty of that.
If you’re looking to purchase local grown fruits & veggies, I’d suggest attending one of the following farmer’s markets to get some great, local produce! Also, be aware of the fruit growing seasons here in Arizona. From About November to March, we have plenty of gorgeous citrus. Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Grapefruit, Pomelos, Tangerines, you name it, we got it. There are a lot of local orchards that offer a U-PICK option. Almost all of it is pesticide & herbicide-free, but be sure to check first with the owner. Around May-June we have Peaches & Nectarines in season.
FAVORITE FARMERS MARKETS & DELIVERY SERVICES
- Ahwatukee Farmer’s Market
- Gilbert Farmer’s Market
- Nature’s Garden Delivered
- Tonopah Rob’s Vegetable Farm
- Full list of Arizona Farmer’s Markets
Grains, Beans, Nuts, & Seeds Sources in Arizona
Most of the grains and beans are best sourced from local bulk co-ops such as Azure Standard. Azure Standard has a HUGE catalog (when I say ‘huge’, I mean huge) of organic & natural products. Your best option is going to be to purchase in bulk through them. You can also purchase nuts or seeds through Azure Standard, but there are a few pecan farmers here as well (here), as pecan trees grow well in the desert. We have a small pecan tree in our backyard that supplies enough nuts to feed our family for a full year.
You can definitely find grains, beans, nuts or seeds at your local Whole Foods or Sprouts, it just may cost a little more per pound.
Healthy Fat Sources in Arizona
Mmm, fat. We’re big supporters of healthy, traditional fats like lard, tallow, butter, olive oil, & coconut oil. In the fat arena, it can be kind of confusing as to which fat is healthy and which is not. Canola & margarine are touted as ‘healthy fats’. Even the Earth Balance brand (which a lot of people consider a healthier option) is full of margarine and canola oils.
The reason why we feel safe eating traditional fats is because traditional fats have been around for centuries. No, it does not clog arteries and it does not contribute to heart disease. Saturated fats are necessary for a healthy brain, healthy digestive system, healthy nervous & circulatory systems, and healthy hormones & fertility. Our main rule over here is that we don’t eat any fat that we couldn’t make at home. Lard, tallow, and butter are all stable fats that could traditionally be made in the home. The same goes with olive or coconut oil. Other safe oils are walnut or avocado oil. You can read more about why we eat traditional fats here & here.
So, where are the best places to buy all of these healthy fats in Arizona?
- Coconut Oil – I buy from COSTCO, it’s the best price around.
- Olive Oil – I really like Queek Creek Olive Mill (locally grown) or Gilbert Olive Oil Company (imported from Italy)
- Lard – When I purchase a whole pig , I also can use the fat to render it into lard. Seriously easier than it sounds! I also purchase lard from here online.
- Tallow – When I purchase beef, I ask for the fat around the kidneys to render into tallow. I also will do the same for our goat or lamb butcherings:)
Raw Honey Sources in Arizona
- There are a LOT of honey sources in Arizona, check out this site find one close to you!