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Be the Food

Two organic markets help you eat well



Douglas Foulke

The market for real organic food has matured—no longer delegated to the fringe. Two Ridgefield organic markets—Nature’s Temptations and Ridgefield Organics—have experienced the ups and downs of the past decade and are working to bring customers fresh, organic food at a reasonable price.

Nature’s Temptations owner Jeff Konchalski admits that his store’s success has not always come easy. “People know the importance of eating organic,” Konchalski explains, “but the question is, can they afford to eat organic?” To ease the financial impact on customers, Konchalski endeavors to buy smarter, stocking his shelves with in-season produce from local growers as much as he can, which keeps transportation costs low and food fresh. 

Lisa Schmidt, co-owner of Ridgefield Organics, takes a similar approach to buying. From spring to fall, she stocks her shelves primarily with locally grown produce and in the colder months, extends her search farther north through New England and even to Canada, where greenhouse farming produces yields year round. Both owners agree that knowing who you are buying from, how they grow, and exactly what you are getting is important to keep costs low and ensure excellence.

“My partner visits markets twice a week and looks at what we’re buying,” says Schmidt of co-owner Sal Sabatino’s commitment to quality. This kind of attention to detail cannot be matched by larger markets and has earned these smaller markets a devoted following.

At both stores, there is a concern for each shopper. Of his store, Konchalski says, “Not only is it a market, it is a resource for combating people’s allergies and ailments.” He is referring to the store’s nutrition center, featuring vitamins, herbs, dietary supplements, and an on-staff holistic health counselor who can address the dietary needs of individual customers. The market’s juice bar offers all-natural fruit and veggie smoothies.

Ridgefield Organics owners draw on their Italian-American background to provide a great selection of greens. “Nobody’s gonna match our greens,” says Schmidt in her Queens accent.

In spite of their success, both stores fight to stay relevant in the shadow of larger providers like Whole Foods. “We try to ensure that people understand the importance of eating clean and organic,” says Konchalski. “Our concern is to present the best produce at the best price,” adds Schmidt.

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