Access to Healthy and Affordable Food and Groceries

Environmental Health Action Guide - compiled and maintained by the Sustainable Cleveland Partnership and NeighborhoodLink





Natasha's mother opens the Sunday newspaper's Health Section over her morning cup of coffee. "Organic foods and vegetables are those grown without the use of pesticides and harmful chemicals, thereby ensuring food safety for consumers specially children. Most natural food stores like the Food-Coop, Natural Sellery, and Seed for Life sell organic products. Check out your local store today," she reads. She is now concerned about what her three-year old daughter Natasha will eat that night.

Find out what you can do to provide more healthy and safe food for your family.



Food is considered by many people to be our closest connection to the environment. Pollution of the air, ground, or water can effect the quality of the food we eat and our health. At the same time, the production of different kinds of food we choose to eat, whether vegetables or meat products, has different impacts on the quality of the environment. Many Americans, especially those in low-income, urban communities don’t have access to healthy food and affordable groceries.


How Food Impacts Your Health and the Environment:

Americans eat more meat and other high fat, salty foods than people in most other countries and thus have higher rates of such dietary health problems as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity.


 Well Balanced, Daily Diet:

Americans need to eat a more well balanced diet to reduce the risk of diet related health problems. A well-balanced diet includes:




People who eat only vegetables and grains -- no meat -- are called vegetarians. While some recommend that people, especially children, eat moderate amounts of lean meat and poultry, others believe that eating no meat is the key to good health. 



Most of the fruits and vegetables we eat are grown using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Traces of these potentially dangerous pesticides and chemical fertilizers can be found in the food we buy from the supermarket and can cause long term health problems when eaten. These dangerous pesticides can also cause environmental problems, contaminating the soil, water, and wildlife near agricultural areas.


 Organic Foods:

Organic fruits, vegetables, and even meats and dairy products are those grown without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Eating organic foods grown without the use of dangerous pesticides or chemical fertilizers will help keep America’s soil, water, and wildlife clean and healthy and may help you avoid the long-term health problems associated with these substances.  


Food Security: Access to Healthy and Affordable Food in Low Income Communities

In many communities, low-income households have less access to healthy and affordable grocery stores and food supplies than do people in upper-income areas and often spend more of their income on food. This is because:





Contact the US Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program Homepage at 202/720-2791 for information on the Federal government’s organic food program. 

Contact the Community Food Security Coalition at 310/822-5410 for general information on food security issues and organizations around the country. 

Access the 5 A Day for Better Health Homepage for information on the national campaign to get people to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day for better health. 

Contact the Food and Nutrition Information Center at 301/504-5719 for more information on proper nutrition and nutritious food. 

Access In Season, an online journal covering issues important to small farmers and fans of farmers markets. 

Contact the Organic Trade Association at 413/774-7511 for general information on organic farmers in Cuyahoga County and the organic food industry. 

Contact the Pesticide Action Network at 415/541-9140 for information on the local and national efforts to reduce the use of dangerous pesticides. 

Contact the Vegetarian Resource Group at 410/366-1463 for general information on vegetarianism and vegetarian issues.

Full mailing addresses and phone numbers of organizations listed on this factsheet are available in this Guide's Directory of Organizations.




Eat Less Meat and Dairy / Eat More Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains: Improving your diet will improve your health by reducing your risks of heart disease and cancer. For information on how to eat a more healthy, well-balanced diet, access The Food Guide Pyramid. For vegetarian recipes and eating suggestions, access Yahoo’s vegetarian recipe links , or check your local bookstore for vegetarian cookbooks.


Buy Organic Produce: Many people eat only food that is organic -- food that is produced without dangerous pesticides and chemical fertilizers. However, it can sometimes be hard to find organic foods because many of the largest supermarkets in our community do not carry them. Organic foods often are more expensive than non-organic foods because of the higher cost of production. However, farmers markets, farm stands, and food co-ops often offer organic food at affordable prices. Eating organic foods that are in season and grown locally will help you save money. Some supermarkets, including Finast, Dave’s, and Westside Market carry a small selection of organic foods along with their non-organic foods. Ask the store manager about what organic foods these markets carry.


Rinse All Fruits And Vegetables Thoroughly: Rinsing all fruits and vegetables with clear water will remove some pesticide and dirt residues.


Ask Your Supermarket to Carry Organic Foods: More and more large chain supermarkets are beginning to carry a selection of organic foods. If your supermarket does not, talk to the manager and ask them to begin stocking these items. The Cleveland-area has several markets that sell healthy and affordable organic food and produce. These include:


Food Co-op

11702 Euclid Avenue


Feel Right Health Foods

13107 Shaker Square




415 Euclid Avenue



Health Nut

8920 Mentor Avenue

Mentor, OH 44060



Marshall’s Health Foods

5168 Warrensville Center Road

Maple Heights



Naturally Good For You

35 S. Main Street

Chagrin Falls



Nature’s Bin

18120 Sloane Avenue



2255 Lee Road

Cleveland Heights



Vita Connection

5900 SOM Center Road




American Harvest

13379 Smith Road

Middleburg Heights




34250 Aurora Road




Calvary Co-Op

16305 Hilliard Road




Doc Heben’s Natural Foods

11841 Detroit Avenue




Support Farmers Markets: Outdoor farmers markets are also good sources of locally grown, fresh, and affordable organic food. These are usually outdoor, temporary markets where farmers sell their products to the customer directly, rather than through a supermarket. Cleveland has four farmers markets:


Coit Road Farmers Market

Coit and Woodworth Avenues

Call Steve Bottorff at 216/382-1777 for hours and information


Woodland Market

Woodland Avenue and East 37th Street

Call Fred Epples at 216/322-8096 for hours and information.


Westside Market

1995 West 25th Street

Call 216/781-3663


Eastside Market

105th Street and St. Clair

Call 216/268-6767.


WIC Families and Farmers Markets: The US Department of Agriculture’s Farmers Market Nutrition Program offers families receiving WIC benefits vouchers and coupons good for buying produce from farmers markets. Contact Susan Conover, of the WIC program, at 216/961-2233 for information.


Support Strong Organic Safety Standards: The Federal government had proposed uniform quality standards for organic produce that threaten the quality and safety of organic foods by allowing food grown with toxic sewage sludge and synthetic antibiotics to be labeled "organic." Due to overwhelming public outcry, however, the government will change the proposed rule. Contact The Campaign to Keep "Organic" Organic to find out how you can get help make sure the government adopts safe organic food policies.


Plant an Organic Garden at Home: If you have a yard you can grow your own fruits and vegetables organically. Access the US Department of Agriculture’s Organic Vegetable Gardening Homepage for tips on starting an organic vegetable garden at home.


Join a Community Garden: Community gardens are public gardens set up in vacant lots, city parks, or empty fields. Community gardens work to improve the quality of life in urban communities by beautifying neighborhoods, providing recreational opportunities and open space, and providing opportunities for residents to grow their own food. There are 185 community gardens in Cleveland. To find out about community gardens in your neighborhood, contact Kathleen O’Neill of Ohio State University Extension’s Urban Gardening Program at 216/397-6000.


Avoid Unsafe Restaurants: Many restaurants in Cleveland have been cited by the Cleveland’s Department of Public Health for violations of health code laws. Call the Department of Public Health’s restaurant health code violation hotline at 216/664-TOPP to find out which restaurants in your community have violated health codes.


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