GreenTree Cooperative Grocery offers Mount Pleasant residents fresh, organic food options

The popularity of organic foods is constantly growing, and GreenTree Cooperative Grocery in Mount Pleasant is adding to the trend.

GreenTree, 214 N. Franklin St., offers all-natural, totally organic food choices. Wikipedia offers the definition of organic foods as “foods that are produced using methods of organic farming, which does not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic foods are also not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.”

As I stepped into the organic oasis, I was warmly greeted by an employee working the cash register. I began to look around and was pleasantly surprised by what this specialty food store had to offer.

Aside from a very large selection of spices and herbs, GreenTree boasted a variety of organic vegetables and organic baked goods that smelled as great as they looked.

But, being the skeptic I am, I needed to hear more about these organic items from a couple different sources who all had knowledge on the subject.

My first interviewee was with none other than the employee who first greeted me when I walked in, Laura Coffee, sales manager of GreenTree.

When asked what the big deal was about organic foods, Coffee smiled and explained that not only were organic foods great tasting, but they also offered significantly less amounts of pesticides in their products.

“There are very few pesticides that are allowed to be used on organic foods, and the ones that are are always significantly less toxic than the ones that are not approved for organic produce,” Coffee explained.

Aside from this, Coffee went on to say how organic farming is much better for the health of the people who are farming these crops.

“Organic farming produces less toxic farming than traditional farming methods,” she said. “There is a lot less oxygenation of the water, which is much better for the environment.”

My last question for Coffee was about the price of these organic foods. As I walked around the store, I noticed most of the items were at least $1 or more compared to conventional grocery stores.

GreenTree shoppers have many organic options available to them right in Mount Pleasant. (Photo by Paul Paonessa)
GreenTree shoppers have many organic options available to them right in Mount Pleasant. (Photo by Paul Paonessa)

Coffee acknowledged the difference in price between GreenTree and other grocery stores, but offered insight on particular deals for students counting costs.

“Every Friday, we give a student discount, which is 5 percent off of everything that’s not already on sale, and we always have lots of free samples those days so people can come out and try what we have,” Coffee said.

What do students think?

As I left GreenTree, I felt that this little-known downtown grocery store was a diamond in the rough.

But, before I made any more evaluations on organic foods, I turned to the opinion of a Central Michigan University student who regularly eats organic.

Brighton junior Erin Varcoe is a regular consumer of organic foods.

When asked why she chooses these above-market price items, she explained she feels it will pay off for her health later in life.

“Organic foods are just so much better for you than what you can get at regular grocery stores,” Varcoe commented. “There’s an issue of weight and bad health in this country, and my opinion is that it has something to do with the foods we eat. I chose organic because you either pay for how you treat your body now, or pay for it later.”

Varcoe went on to say the price does play a small factor in her grocery purchases, but she tries to buy organic whenever she can.

With hearing this, I was almost convinced that organic foods were soon to be making an immediate impact on my personal diet, but I wanted one more opinion.

Is organic worth it?


Robert Lee, CMU health professor, gave me the cold hard facts on these organic eats.

Surprisingly, Lee had some different insights than Coffee and Varcoe on organic foods.

“The research on the benefits of organic foods is limited,” Lee explained. “And, the results on what research has been done on the benefits of organic versus conventional foods is mixed.”

Elaborating, Lee explained to me though consuming organic foods isn’t harmful to your health, it might not be that much better for you, either.

“The differences are very slight between produce that is grown organically and conventionally, and it’s not known if the differences are clinically significant.” Lee said. “Whether the differences will translate to better health is still unknown.”

With this said, Dr. Lee added some positives to organic farming.

“I believe the people who are going to be benefit the most from organic agriculture are the agricultural workers who come into close contact with chemicals used in conventional farming,” he said. “Clearly, agricultural workers are going to stand to benefit from organic agriculture as a result of their reduced exposure from the chemicals used in traditional agriculture.”

Lee said he was a big proponent of fruits and vegetables, and feels that regardless if they are grown conventionally or organically, Americans need to implement more of these foods into their diets.

After hearing three very different opinions from people who all had some knowledge on the subject, I feel I now know some of the ins and outs of organic foods.

Though these organic foods might not be significantly better for your health, there is no harm in eating them.

Even more so, it’s nice to know that there is a store for those people with allergies to gluten, wheat, and other common ingredients so they have a variety in their diets, aside from the small selection at conventional grocery stores.