Grocery stores in the Chicago area stock a variety of fresh and healthy options, but not many tout the best in nutritious and least in processed shopping.
We visited grocers, specialty shops, health food stores and fresh markets searching for nutritious stock. Judged specifically on produce, low-fat options, fresh meats, gluten-free products, bulk foods such as nuts and spices being offered, availablity and variety of supplements, and an overall offering of fresh, frozen and canned foods, here's our list for Chicago's best grocery stores and markets.
Chicago French Market - Fish, Meat and Olive Oil
A year-round, indoor marketplace, the Chicago French Market makes shopping for fresh goods from local purveyors possible, even during a frigid Midwest winter. Two vendors stood out for healthy shopping. City Fresh Market for fresh fish and meat and Oh, Olive for their wide variety of healthy extra virgin olive oils. If you are looking to boost your protein and omega-3 consumption, Chicago French Market is the perfect destination for hearty and healthy options.
Offering fresh poultry, fish and grass-fed beef raised without antibiotics or hormones, City Fresh Market gives you the option of having your beef or fish prepared (grilled or steamed) while you wait. Each day, fish are bought whole, then cut into fillets by the City Fresh Market fishmonger. Requests for specific meat can usually be delivered within 24 hours. The full service market is located at 3201 W. Devon Ave.
Other Chicago French Market favorite, Oh, Olive crushes the freshest and best quality olives to produce oil that contains abundant flavor and a high concentration of polyphenols (antioxidants) which reduce inflammation and nurture your body at a cellular level. Not sure what kind of oil works best for your dish? Customers can sample the oil to discover the perfect pairing for cooking or topping your favorite salad.
A fervent supporter of small businesses around the country, Oh Olive features pasta products from Rossi Pasta in Ohio (made with extra virgin olive oil, spring water, and wheat), hand made chocolates (which are dairy and gluten free, organic and 66 percent to 80 percent dark chocolate) by Ethereal Confections in Woodstock, hand blended spices from the Galena Garlic Company in Galena and teas from Tiesta Tea in Chicago.
In addition to the store’s Chicago French Market location, you can also find Oh, Olives in Libertyville and Glenview, as well as Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.
Trader Joe’s - Best Overall for Healthy Groceries: Frozen, Canned and Fresh Combined
Trader Joe's commitment to eliminate added trans fats, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and GMO ingredients from all the company’s private label products, combined with a plethora of gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options makes this grocer the best overall market in Chicago for healthy shopping. Symbols like “no gluten,” “fat free,” “sodium” and “kosher” on all Trader Joe brand packaging makes identifying foods specific to your dietary requirements easy.
If you are a meat eater, don’t be put off by the abundance of unique specialty products such as Triangulated Wasabi Trek Mix and Edamame Rangoons. Spiral half hams and prime rib roast certainly abound.
Trader Joe’s has 19 locations in the area including the suburbs Algonquin, Batavia, Orland Park, Glen Ellyn and Lake Zurich in addition to Chicago locations such as Lincoln Park and South Loop.
Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets - Produce
Staying true to the neighborhood fresh fruit and vegetable market opened in 1958 Angelo Caputo’s in Elmwood Park continues to stock produce basics like bananas, squash, loose beets, fresh and dry figs, and parsnips. Customers can also find a wide variety of specialty vegetables such as antiemetic sweet peppers, daikon, boniato and tomatillo.
In addition to a solid selection of gluten free options, Caputo’s has an immense deli stocked with Italian specialty meats and cheeses and pays a premium to provide fish deemed safe by Safe Harbor, which tests for food-borne impurities found in seafood.
Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Market has several locations in Addison, Elmwood Park, Hanover, Elmwood Park, Naperville and South Elgin suburbs.
Fruitful Yield - Best Variety of Gluten Free Products and Supplements
For those following a gluten-free diet, Fruitful Yield gathers a medley of dishes, snacks, cake, brownie and baking mixes for the pantry. Wanting to provide customers with supplements, Fruitful Yield also created the NOW brand (standing for Natural, Organic and Wholesome) which offers more than 1,800 types of supplements like minerals, vegetarian supplements, multivitamins and antioxidants. Other brands include: Purely Elizabeth, POPchips, The Jolly Llama, Gluten free Vegeniase, Hail Merry’s Chocolate Raw Almond Butter Tarts and So Delicious Dairy Free Coconut Milk Frozen Desserts.
Locations for the store include Aurora, Batavia, Berwyn, Bloomingdale, Darien, Elmhurst, Joliet, Lombard, Schaumburg, South Elgin and Oswego.
Soup to Nuts – Best in bulk nuts and spices, supporting local vendors
This alternative grocer, located in Geneva, displays a variety of bulk products from spices such as turmeric root and chickweed to honey fig bars and raw pumpkin seeds. To help support local farmers with all organic produce, Soup to Nuts stocks local offerings year round, including frozen turkeys from Undesser Turkey Farm and locally harvested honey. All products at Soup to Nuts are free of artificial ingredients, preservatives, coloring, flavoring and sweeteners. Customers will also find products like Eden Organic, which uses a BPA free lining on all of their cans, and Nordic Naturals, an omega oil supplier that catches and processes fish from Norway to create award-winning purity levels.
Looking for tomatoes, homeopathic services and a fresh smoothie all under one roof? Wellness options like ear candling, Reiki and a collection of educational resources for customers is conveniently located in the market. The Sweet Grass Café, also located inside Soup to Nuts, serves nutritious lunch options including fresh juice, smoothies, wraps, salads and soup. All items on the menu are created from the fresh organic produce stocked in-store.
Educating yourself about ingredients and nutrition was a common theme among the markets researched, and each establishment visited appeared vested in customer service. While each grocery store presented consumers with healthy options, they each excelled in providing at least one product or dietary option with gusto.