Yes, you read that right. Muncie, in east-central Indiana, is probably better known for its past—Ball™ canning jars from a company that moved to Colorado, shuttered auto manufacturing plants, a history of racism—which may invite the raised eyebrows and muttered comments that have surely accompanied the reading of this post’s title. But folks, it is true. Muncie is indeed home to a downtown grocery store that sells ONLYorganic goods. That makes Muncie home to a more forward-looking population than many other communities. And this store just celebrated its 8th anniversary, a real milestone for small businesses. People, perhaps it’s time to rethink your stereotypes and old perceptions of Muncie—there truly is a customer base that has not only permitted The Downtown Farm Stand to remain in business, but to actually GROW and THRIVE!
Since opening, they’ve added a deli and a home delivery service (convenient for those who want to eat well, but have time commitments that preclude them from shopping there as often as they would like).
Please note that this is an all organic grocery store. Not a natural grocery. You see, as of this post, there is no definition of “natural”. Goods labeled “Organic”, on the other hand, have to meet certain criteria. That is, the word has a higher bar. “Natural” really doesn’t mean anything; in fact, it’s a pretty misleading term. One could argue that, at the molecular level, everything is natural. Your Cheesy Jalapeno Ketchup Flavored Potato Poufs, made from dehydrated, freeze-dried, overly genetically modified ingredients with a questionable provenance that likely stems from a chemistry lab could, theoretically, be labeled “natural”. So, an all-organic store is a Pretty. Big. Deal. If you shop at Whole Foods or Earth Fare, those bastions of organic shopping, you’ll find that they sell conventional foods along with organic foods. Actually, they sell a LOT of conventionally grown produce and the like. I’m sure that, for them, it’s a business decision. But for Dave and Sara Ring, owners of The Downtown Farm Stand, the decision to sell only organic goods (much of it locally sourced) is one based on values. For them, it was an ethical decision, one that has paid off for them, in terms of establishing a loyal customer base. People KNOW that if you got it at The Farm Stand, it’s truly free of industrial pesticides and herbicides.
But the Rings’ decision has also paid off for the local community. Dave and Sara have made locally produced, organic foods accessible to all of Delaware (IN) County. No need to ponder the limited variety at the supermarket or make the trek to Indianapolis. No wonder their customers are so loyal to them! Dave and Sara also support local growers and producers, assuming that they’ve passed the Rings’ standards. Eggs come from Pinehurst Farm, for example, milk and yogurt from Traders Point Creamery, etc. For a local food system to develop and grow, local producers need access to markets. Farmers markets are one avenue, but they often operate only on weekends, which may make it difficult for those who have outside commitments to attend. So, having a store like The Downtown Farm Stand is a way of connecting farmers to customers (as well as ensuring that growers receive a fair price, something that a traditional supermarket won’t commit to). And when the goods aren’t necessarily locally sourced (we do have some tough winters here), the Rings make sure that their values aren’t compromised. That’s why you’ll see Organic Valley half-and-half here, but not Horizon.
So, you might expect to find an all-organic grocery store in New York. Or Los Angeles. Or San Francisco. Or Seattle. Or Chicago. But Muncie? Muncie, Indiana??? Yet there it is—The Downtown Farm Stand, truly a Flyover Find!
The Downtown Farm Stand is located at 125 E. Main St. in downtown Muncie, Indiana.