Chances are, not too many League City residents know about the tucked-away treasure nestled in their own backyard. Natural Living, a GMO-free co-op that's quietly operated since January of 2011, is next door to League Park in downtown League City. Walk in either the front or the back door of this former home and grab a ready-to-go organic lunch, a nutritious smoothie, an organic tea or an herbal remedy for your allergies. The co-op is also 95 percent organic, so whether you're looking to eat more locally grown foods or adapting to a new food allergy, Natural Living’s staff can help.
A co-op or co-operative is an organization that focuses on reconnecting the community and is run cooperatively by owners and members, all working toward the same goals. Goals include supporting local farmers and growers, knowing the direct food source and getting to know the community. Natural Living, like most co-ops, does not have room in its budget for advertising, so business is built by word of mouth. This friendly market knows all its members by name, making the experience more intimate.
This co-op offers produce shares and
Order a freshly blended graham cracker smoothie made with almond milk, gluten-free oats, local raw honey, chia seeds, almonds, cacao nibs, vanilla
The cafe will soon be a full-service restaurant with a menu featuring set items and floating weekly specials made with fruits and vegetables in season.
Seven years ago, owner Lisa Piper started her organic share and pick-up co-op out of her living room and then moved it to her garage. After outgrowing her home, she moved Natural Living to its current location two years ago.
So, what exactly is a share and how much is it? According to Natural Living’s website, “Veggie shares have a balanced amount of leafy greens, hardy veggies, flavorings & fruit and are all Organic. Produce varies week to week and season to season. You must be a member to participate in the produce shares.” A small share is $24 and a large share is $36. For a share with organic fruit only, the price is $16.
Members are not obligated to purchase a share every week, but only as desired. Members reply to the emailed weekly newsletter and list the items they would like for that week. Produce shares, dry goods and baked goods can all be ordered this way and picked up or delivered. Delivery is $5 within a five-mile range and $10 within a 15-mile range. Shares are picked up Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m. or Saturdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. During those hours, the store hosts a farmers’ market open to the public where farmers sell excess produce and locals sell homemade products.
Piper’s urban garden in Dickinson supplies shares with produce. She grows collards, lettuce, chard, kale, zucchini, cucumbers and, as seasons permit, okra, peppers, eggplant and various other vegetables. Additional suppliers are local farmers and growers out of Alvin, Manvel and Santa Fe.
Purple okra and purple green beans are just a couple of the unique surprises the farmers might have in their weekly supply, depending on the season. Piper stays in close contact with farmers to ensure that their practices are in alignment with the co-op’s non-GMO, organic production.
Piper is a certified raw food chef and has been experimenting with raw vegan recipes for years. She has created incredible recipes for Natural Living. Fettuccine Alfredo is made with zucchini noodles. Raw burgers are made with nuts and seeds and wrapped in a collard leaf. People looking to avoid soy, grains, dairy and gluten are able to safely enjoy
Natural Living is not entirely vegan. Farm fresh eggs, farm-raised meat, and other items are also sold in limited quantities.
Lining the walls of one of the back rooms is a beautiful display of large glass jars filled with organic dry goods and herbs. On one wall is a charming tea nook with organic teas and local honey. Because the glass jars seal shut, they're more sustainable for food storage. Cross contamination is less likely, which in some cases can be tragic for people with food allergies. Natural Living takes special precautions to make sure that customers are getting a pure product.
Vitamins and supplements are not sold, but as
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Probiotic fruit leather candies are made from
Natural Living has a newsletter that is emailed every Monday. Basic annual membership in the co-op is $42. Find out more information at shopnaturalliving.com.
Please visit their GoFundMe page and help support your local co-op.
Natural Living, 219 North Michigan Avenue, League City
Hours: Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Sunday.