Isador’s Fruit and Deli
By Steev Riccardo
The Daily Green, a consumer’s guide to a green lifestyle from goodhousekeeping.com, recently listed the twelve fruits and vegetables that are produced using the most pesticides. The list is alarming: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, kale, and collard greens. These are common and important fruits and vegetables that most people eat.
There are many others not on this list, but they are still grown with pesticides. To avoid putting dangerous pesticides into your system, eating organic is your best and cleanest bet.
There is a great local option for organic eating and shopping: Isador’s Fruit and Deli in Oxford. The store sells organic produce and also prepares meals daily, using only organic ingredients.
Isador’s owner/operator Justin Szostakowski wanted to start a restaurant but also wanted a market when he opened his doors in 2006 “because those were two different ways we could move our product. Everything would be fresh and moving fast.”
“We started really small and have been growing ever since,” said Szostakowski, who grew up in Oxford and went to Oxford High School before taking business courses at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester.
He also took some food enthusiast courses at the Culinary Institute of America, but found that hands-on training served him best. “I could never really afford to go to school for cooking. (So instead) I took jobs in restaurants that I liked and I learned from chefs there. If you want to learn to be a chef you can learn just by watching people.”
Isador’s, which has the makeup of a small grocery store and deli, opened its doors as a conventional fruit market and made the move to organics about two years ago when “I realized that I needed to be different than the Market Baskets and the big super stores in order to survive. It was a really difficult decision to make because this stuff is twice as much money; it was a tough decision, but we did it, and I think it was a good one.”
“This is different than any restaurant I have worked in because we get really oddball produce” which Szostakowski refers to as “lost varietal produce.”
“If you are in a restaurant, you have iceberg lettuce and you get tomatoes, maybe carrots, you get the basics. Here we carry a gamut of things, we try all kinds of things.”
Being around all this healthy food even helped Szostakowski change his own eating habits. “It’s easy for me to maintain an organic diet because I am always around it and now it’s just food to me.” His advice for newcomers who are looking into transitioning to an organic diet is simple, “Try it for a couple of weeks and see what you think and see how you feel.”
Isador’s is also a proponent of working with local farmers on a seasonal basis. “There are quite a few organic farmers in this area; they might not be certified but they don’t spray (pesticides), and there are a few that are certified on the Western side of the state. It’s moving in that direction. Farmers realize that they have to be different, too, in order to stay ahead of the game of factory farms. They need to carve out a new niche for themselves,” Szostakowski said.
During the local growing season, employees go out and pick up from farms, and the store continues to carry local vegetables such as potatoes, kale, and beets during the winter.
The third tier of Isador’s business, and perhaps its most interesting, is its delivery service, which brings healthy food right to your doorstep. “We deliver directly to people’s houses. We do this so that we don’t throw away a lot of product. We go 25 miles out in every direction every week, and deliver to about 50 households.”
You can order from Isador’s either online or by telephone. Szostakowski said that you can order “anything you want” and they will make it for you.
Recently Isador’s also introduced its customers to a new concept called “zero package” grocery shopping. “You can come in with your own food-safe containers and we will fill them up. You can leave here without any trash. We have a lot of things in bulk, like rice, grains, beans, spices, and even vegetables and meats, which makes them cheaper to buy.”
The made-to-order meals, such as healthy burritos, salads, and soups, are also an exciting alternative. “They prepare awesome meals here that you can’t find anywhere nearby. I like to cook using my own natural organic products but it’s also good to have a place like this not that far away,” said Anthony Leoni of Charlton.
Michelle P. from Oxford, who had been a regular customer at Trader Joe’s in Shrewsbury, is happy that there is an organic food store like Isador’s nearby. It is nice to have something here in town. I just started eating clean in the last year to get healthier and this place is a great alternative.”
Isador’s also has a wide variety of vitamins and supplements to go along with all its healthy foods.
There are many other factors in farming and eating organically that are not only good for the body, but also good for the environment. It’s good to see a local business, like Isador’s, thinking outside the box.
Isador’s Deli and Fruit is located at 250r Main Street (Rear Lot), Oxford, MA 01540 and online here: http://myorganicdelivery.com/
- Wednesday, 11 January 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News