Organics Big Bear

Big Bear Produce Club

Finding organic food in Big Bear, California has always been a challenge even though there has always been a small core group of health food enthusiasts who have supported efforts to bring good, healthy choices to the area.

One of the earlier options was over in the village area of Big Bear Lake where a Mexican restaurant now operates, but when I first moved to the Big Bear Valley, this place was long gone.

When I arrived in the valley, Marie operated Bare Necessities and not only offered a small grocery but also a healthy option for meals onsite. Most recently, Sol Food Market, once a store located on the boulevard, was embraced by a small, loyal following and although the storefront has closed, the Produce Buying Club is going strong.

Big Bear has taken longer than normal to embrace a healthier food lifestyle but the concern over the quality of food and the safety of it has grown.

The good news is that there are some options available to valley residents. The bad news is that you might not be aware of them–which is why I thought this would be a good topic to tackle.

Now there are a few who purchase items in the major grocery stores but these selections are limited and pricey. These other options help support small local growers, farmers and businesses.

GG thinks that doing business with people who care both about health and the earth makes good sense.

Big Bear Organic Produce Club

Mountain Top Buying Club

The mountain top co-op is a buying club that has been around for at least 25 years or so. It has been under the helm of notable locals such as Janette Tabor, Chris Pennington, and Steve Boggio but Husband and wife team Jim and Peggy Otterstorm took over stewardship of the co-op back in 2001.

Although Jim passed away in early 2011, Peggy continues to manage the club and has a core group of about 24 members that enjoy the benefits of purchasing a variety of goods. The club is a member of the United Natural Foods network and so the items that can be purchased by members are overwhelming.

Some of the categories available include beverages, bulk (baking ingredients, coffee and tea, grains and beans, herbs and species, nuts and seeds), dairy, non-dairy (vegan alternatives), meats, breads, desserts, snack foods, and sauces. However you can also purchase nutritional aids, health & beauty items, and a variety of non-food items and pet related goods.

Most items must be purchased in bulk (or case minimums) and so partnering with another member is common. Orders are submitted to Peggy every four weeks and members fill out an order form after perusing the extensive online catalog.

Then, a week later, the goods are delivered. Pick ups and payments are made by club members the same day.

Costs are amazingly competitive and each member pays for their own goods along with any local taxes on non-food items (or bottle fees) plus a 2% associated management and handling fee.

All club members are required to chip in to cover the fuel surcharges. Although prices are subject to change between ordering and delivery, Peggy says this is rare.

The next ordering cycle is in March so if you would like to get into the Mountain Top Buying Club, call Peggy Otterstrom at (909) 585-6435.

Big Bear Organic Produce Club

Organic Food Produce Club

The Organic Food Produce Club was a popular option when the market of the same name had a storefront but today it is just a popular–the only difference is that orders for the fresh local produce are collected on Friday and members pickup and pay for their goods between 1:30pm-4:00pm on Tuesday of the following week.

The club is also made up of a core group of between 24-36 members who are invested in supporting their health and quality foods. There are different options available to members since each can choose to make up an order or utilize an easy produce box option where the selection done for them.

Another nice option is that, on the first Friday of every month, members may chose to order good quality all natural meat. The main suppliers says that all natural means no antibiotics, no added hormones, organic and free range.

Joining is simple, just sign a Terms & Agreement Form and pay the monthly membership fee that covers operating costs which ranges between $12 to $15 depending on the size of the household. Visit the Organic Food Produce Club website or email [email protected].

Health Food Markets

Many mountain residents support off the mountain health food markets. Two of the most popular include Clarks Nutrition and Loma Linda Market. Both of these grocery style markets offer a wide selection of natural and organic foods. Each also offer quick options for lunch or snacks on the run.

Clark’s Nutrition & Natural Foods Markets have been family owned and operated since 1972 when Jim Clark founded the first store in Riverside. The Loma Linda location is known by locals for being a good source of information since their employees are knowledgeable about the wide range of nutritional products carried within the the store and participate in five levels of accredited continuing education.

Loma Linda Market

Loma Linda Market serves the students, faculty, staff, and departments of Loma Linda University and Medical Center since it is sits onsite. The store is known for promoting vegetarian meat substitutes and other healthful alternatives since it is supports the lacto-ovo vegetarian practices of the Adventist Church. Those who are looking for these options will also enjoy the small cafe contained with the same area.

Inland Empire Organic Produce Buying Club

Another active buying club for those of you reading from surrounding locations is the the Inland Empire Organic Produce Buying Club MeetUp or IEOPBC. This group pools their money to for fresh, certified organic produce from an organic wholesaler or local farms.

Offers vary and it is first come first served. Although it says it says “produce” this last week they were collecting orders for meat and eggs. Each week the group sends out emails to its 1400 or so members. Completely volunteer, produce shares are divided among members. These orders are prepaid and all money collected is used exclusively for produce and expenses.

The nearest location is in Redlands at the Farm Artisan Foods restaurant on State Street.

Mail Order Options

At one time I searched for a variety of different ordering options online but Eat Wild has a good extensive listing of California ranches that will ship directly to you.

GG also tends to order a lot of things through Vitacost since they have a good selection of organics as well and ship directly to Fawnskin. If you use my link GG will also benefit!

That is all I have for today but if you have some favorites or hidden gems you need to share, be sure to add them in the comments.


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 and is filed under High Altitude Living, Recommended.

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2 Responses to “Organics Big Bear

  • 1
    Peggy Otterstrom
    February 21st, 2012 11:47

    Nice to have options!!!
    Steve’s last name is Boggio…..
    I probably did not pronounce it correctly.
    I’m enjoying your site, you are providing a great service to your community.
    Thank you from all of us!!
    Peggy O’

  • 2
    GG (Gossip Girl)
    February 21st, 2012 12:17

    Thanks, just corrected it. Usually I check spellings so it is funny that this slipped by. Thanks so much for your time and hard work.