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Local, natural and organic at Cali’s

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Buying local and organic produce doesn’t have to be a large investment of time, at least not with the help of stores like Cali’s Natural Foods. Owner and operator Ian Brandt opened the natural food store in November 2009, and he has used it as a way to help get the same high-quality produce he uses in his two organic restaurants, Sage’s Café and the Vertical Diner, to the general public in Utah.

“Because I order large quantities of product, I can provide the locally grown and seasonal produce at a cheaper price,” Brandt said. “The store only has the highest-quality produce and we focus on providing whatever is in season. We buy local produce for everything that is grown in the area.”

Cali’s Natural Foods is an alternative to big box corporations, and buying locally-grown produce helps keep the local economy stimulated instead of sending dollars overseas, Brandt said. In addition to local farm businesses, Cali’s also works with exchanges from people who have an excess of crops.

“If someone brings in 10 bushels of extra peaches, I can offer them some items in return, such as beans or other produce,” Brandt said.

Besides providing local and fresh produce and other items, Cali’s is committed to renewable energy and maintaining a small carbon footprint, Brandt said. All the energy is provided by Blue Sky Energy and is 100 percent renewable. Also, produce is composted and recycling is a must for all items available, he said.

“We’re truly a locally owned and operated store,” Brandt said. “We don’t focus on the image or the marketing as much as other natural food stores. We have more of a warehouse feel to the store, but it helps us provide the products at a lower price so everyone can afford to buy the best and healthiest items.”

Because all the produce is organic and tree-ripened fruit, it has a better color, better taste, and has more vitamins and minerals, Brandt said. Buying local helps support local economies, but it’s also the healthiest way of eating, he said.

Cali’s Natural Foods is a distributor to more than 30 local restaurants, other than his own. Cali’s also has pasta sauces, pates and salsas that are served in Sage’s Cafe and the Vertical Diner. Stopping by the store is always an experience because the merchandise is always changing with the seasons and what products are available. For all the produce, grain, flour, seeds and other natural foods, Cali’s is the local option.

Cali’s is open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Monday from 12 to 5 p.m. The store is located at 389 W. 1700 South in Salt Lake City. For up-to-date information about what products are in stock and available, find Cali’s Natural Foods on Facebook.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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