League City's Natural Living Co-op: Something We All Need in Our Backyard

Lining the walls are beautiful glass jars full of dried goods.EXPAND
Lining the walls are beautiful glass jars full of dried goods.
Photo by Jennifer Fuller
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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.

Choose from a variety of freshly made organic smoothies.EXPAND
Choose from a variety of freshly made organic smoothies.
Photo by Jennifer Fuller

This co-op offers produce shares and is also a storefront open to the public. Inside this enchanting little shop, there's a small kitchen where raw vegan entrées are made and packaged for quick sell. Smoothies, teas and coffees are also sold.

Order a freshly blended graham cracker smoothie made with almond milk, gluten-free oats, local raw honey, chia seeds, almonds, cacao nibs, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Or sip on a Joyful Orange Tea made with honeybush, orange peel, lime peel and vanilla bean. For lunch, try one of the pre-made meals like enchiladas or portabella fajita wraps, all raw vegan, and grab a seat in the cafe's dining area.

Grab a veggie burger when you want a tasty treat without the guilt!EXPAND
Grab a veggie burger when you want a tasty treat without the guilt!
Photo by Jennifer Fuller

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.

Enjoy a fully raw vegan fettuccine alfredo.EXPAND
Enjoy a fully raw vegan fettuccine alfredo.
Photo by Jennifer Fuller

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 raw vegan food. Organic chocolate chip cookies, blond brownies and other baked sweets made by a local baker are also available.

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.

Infused vinegars are made in house and loaded with health benefits.EXPAND
Infused vinegars are made in house and loaded with health benefits.
Photo by Jennifer Fuller

Vitamins and supplements are not sold, but as an herbalist with 30 years of experience, Piper creates medicinal tinctures. Tinctures are liquid extracts made from herbs. Single-herb tinctures made with nettles can help with allergies, or a licorice root tincture can help with imbalanced hormones. Tincture blends made with a combination of herbs can be purchased to also help with anxiety, sleep or hormones. These drops are pre-made and readily available for sale. Piper also makes infused vinegars like honey raspberry and turmeric root — splashed on a salad or taken as a shot, turmeric root helps fight inflammation.

Probiotic fruit leather candies are made from scoby, which is a mushroom-like probiotic grown similarly to yeast and used in the creation of kombucha. These scoby candies are sugar-free, using dates and fruit for sweetness. Bulk dried herbs, teas and dry goods are weighed out and packaged per order.

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.

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