According to the Organic Trade Association, U.S. sales of organic food and beverages have risen from $1 billion in 1990 to nearly $27 billion in 2010. The benefits of organics can't be overstated: From flavor and quality to free of pesticides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers and genetically modified ingredients, there's no question that organic is here to stay. But despite the booming industry, access to organic food is not always the easiest. So perhaps you might consider moving closer to one of these top nine cities for the organic lifestyle.
- San Francisco, CA: Swing into the Rainbow Grocery Food Co-op in San Fran's Mission District and you'll not only see some of the freshest and most vibrant organic produce, but it's extremely affordable too because it's all grown locally, cutting down on transport and storage costs.
- Los Angeles, CA: The massive sprawl that is Los Angeles can often feel like an overwhelming and stifling place. But look deeper at the city's hundreds of farmers markets and organic growers, and another picture unfolds. From fruits and veggies to the fine organic coffee at Cafecito, Los Angeles is indeed the place to be for organic foodies.
- Seattle, WA: Seattle's making its own mark as a leading hotspot for organic food. From PCC Markets to the Tilth restaurant, organic food is to modern Seattle what flannel shirts and Nirvana was 20 years ago.
- Portland, OR: Credit Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein's Portlandia for both mocking and highlighting the absurdity of Portland, including its fixation with organic food. Whether trekking through the local co-op, New Season's Market or an organic beer on tap at Laurelwood Brewing Co, Portland makes organic not just delicious, but hip, too.
- New York City, NY: While the grime of the subways may make you think of anything but wholesome organic food, New York City is actually growing quite a bit of it in urban gardens. And, the city's green markets and restaurants like Angelica's Kitchen, Candle 79 or Pure Food and Wine showcase regional growers, local, seasonal and organic fare.
- Minneapolis, MN: And a little ice and snow hasn't stopped the progression of organic food in Minnesota. Swing on by the booming co-op, The Wedge, or sign up for a CSA from a local organic farm for a year-long bounty of organic goodness.
- San Diego, CA: Since California grows more organic crops than any other state, it's no wonder that three of its largest cities top this list. San Diego's warm weather makes it an ideal setting for year-round access to the freshest organic food.
- Denver, CO: Even though Boulder has the reputation of being the most progressive city in Colorado, Denver is putting itself on the map with a thriving organic community. That extra mile closer to the sun provides plenty of great growing days for regional organic fruits and vegetables.
- Austin, TX: Whether Whole Foods corporate headquarters came before the organic farmers or vice versa doesn't really matter these days. What does matter is that Austin is a booming organic lovers oasis.
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Image: Salim Virji