Small City, USA

I am currently off gallivanting in Chicago with my friend Seth. I didn’t want to leave you guys hanging though, so I decided to answer a readers question instead! See ya tomorrow for a Monday & Chicago recap!

Josie asked how I manage to eat healthy foods in the same city that I live in so I thought I could make it into a fun post. Below are my tips for healthy eating in small towns/cities.

Iowa City is far from a ‘small’ town by Midwest standards but it is considerably smaller than some of the other areas that many of the bloggers live in (hello NYC!). Iowa City is actually unique in the sense that we have a bustling eat local movement, a wonderful food co-op, and tons of people who are concentrated on natural, healthy living but there still are no Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, GreenWise, or Great Harvests in Iowa.  Of course, there are still ways to get healthy, wholesome, and even trendy blog foods in Small City, USA. Here’s how I make it work.

Stalk Em

When I am traveling to different places I always stalk the Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s websites to see if there is a location in the area where I’ll be visiting. By now I am an expert on the ones around Iowa and I am lucky that I’m able to average a visit once every couple of months.

Stock Up

When I am able to visit stores like Trader Joe’s I stock up on some of my favorite things that I can only get there like Almond Butter. I do the same thing when I find certain items at my local grocery store like specific kinds of Larabars.


I certainly am not shy and that characteristic definitely serves me well in the grocery store. I regularly inquire about things that are and are not on the shelves. Things like Oikos and Barney Butter can be hard to come by if you live in a small city or town, so speak up. Most grocery stores (especially specialty, health markets, or co-op) will be happy to at least listen to your suggestions. If it sells, they will carry it.

Specialty Stores

I make regular pit stops at our local co-op which specializes in whole and healthy foods. Unfortunately my budget doesn’t allow me to solely shop there, but it is almost better that way. I am able to find some new and special items but it also forces me to shop around.

Shop Around

Shopping around may be the most important tip I have. It is amazing the variety that each store offers. I constantly switch up the stores that I shop at (even if they are still the same grocery chain) because I constantly find new items.

Farmer’s Markets

One of the major downsides of living in the Midwest is that farmer’s markets only really surface once the weather gets nice – but, don’t be a stranger once they do! You can get incredible deals at farmer’s markets and be exposed to produce that is hard to find in small town grocery stores otherwise (obviously this depends on what part of the states you are from).

Foodie Friends

I am lucky in the sense that some of my best friends are foodies. My sister lives in Omaha so she regularly grabs coupons for Whole Foods or grabs something I am able to sample when I visit. My friend Kristen lives in Des Moines and is sometimes able to get brands that haven’t peaked yet in the smaller city where I live (like Chobani for a while) and we constantly trade different bars to try out. Even if you don’t have real life foodie friends there are tons in blog land you could trade with!

Small citiers & towners what are your tips for keeping it natural and healthy? All you Iowa City-ians where are your favorite places to eat & shop in IC?



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15 responses to “Small City, USA

  1. Oh this is great! Thank you so much. I’m surrounded by awesome food choices right now but my sister lives in Boise and she is not. This will help her.

    Great post!

  2. GREAT POST!!! I am a firm believer in where there is a will there is a way! If you want to eat healthy you can! Rock on girl! And have fun!

  3. I like shopping at the Bread Garden Market. There are usually not very many people and their produce is pretty cheap.

  4. Josie

    Thanks for the post!! So helpful 🙂 Enjoy Chicago-while it is not the healthiest, I always have to stop at Portillo’s for a hot dog…a vice, but so worth it!

  5. I agree on stocking up!!! I definitely do that.

  6. I live in the midwest too (waaaayyyy up north) and a lot of goodies are hard to come by. I know there are good co-ops a few hours to the west and to the east, so if I take a shopping trip or I’m going to visit friends, I stock up big time!
    You can also order a lot of things online (although I can’t do that right now because it can be expensive).
    I try to find the healthiest things I can at the regular supermarket and Farmer’s Markets in the summer.

  7. Great post Kate! Love that you are happy in Iowa City, even though you are not from here. Can’t wait for our lunch date at the Red Avocado next month!

    Also – I’ve heard there is a winter farmer’s market in Mt. Vernon (small town by Cedar Rapids)…but I don’t have much information on it…just heard about it.

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