MOM’s Organic Market, Baltimore, MD & Washington, DC

10 stores in Baltimore, MD and Washington DC area
Store Logo
Website: http://momsorganicmarket.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/momsorganicmarket
Owner: Scott Nash
General Manager:
Founded in: 1987
Organic Sales: About two thirds of overall store sales are organic. Produce sales are 100% organic.
Annual Sales: More than $10 million a year.
store image, store image

GMO Practices

Manufacturer Communication
In July 2012, MOM's began informing suppliers that they would no longer accept foods with high-risk GMO ingredients, and that products with ingredients that may contain GMOs had to be either certified organic or Non-GMO Project verified. They provide this policy to all vendors. MOM's Organic Market is dedicated to supporting organic agriculture. When store staff review new products, higher priority is given to items that are made with organic ingredients. When organic products are not available, MOM's will give preference to GMO-free products. This especially applies to products that contain ingredients, sub-ingredients, or additives that are sourced or derived, wholly or in part, from common high-risk GMO crops. When possible, non-organic items are discontinued in favor of certified organic or verified GMO-free products.
Product Removal Process
MOM’s is continually striving to increase its selection of organic and, if organic is not available, non-GMO products. Throughout the year, staff review product categories and work towards replacing non-organic items that may contain GMO's with organic or non-GMO verified alternatives.
Labeling

The store is a supporting retailer of the Non-GMO Project. MOM’s contributed $10,000 to the Proposition 37, California's GMO labeling ballot initiative, and $5,000 to Yes on 522, a GMO labeling ballot initiative in Washington State.

Spotlight on MOM’s Organic Market

Selected by OCA as one of the 2013 ‘Diligent Dozen” Right to Know Grocers

The mission statement on the MOM’s Organic Market website says it all: “Our purpose: to protect and restore the environment.” And what better way to protect the environment, than to support organic agriculture?

“We are Environmentalists. We believe that the destruction of our environment and climate change are the biggest problems facing humankind today. We believe that through leading by example we can have the biggest impact to protect and restore the environment. By instituting best practices to reduce our impact on the environment, and by educating staff and customers, we are influencing customers, employees, and many other businesses.”

MOM’s, which operates 10 stores in Maryland and Virginia, was one of the most passionately endorsed nominees for our Top 10 Right to Know Grocer’s Contest. And no wonder. The company chooses organic products whenever possible, stocking an overall higher percentage of organic items than any other major grocery chain, and selling only 100-percent USDA Certified Organic Produce.

“We buy local whenever possible. This helps reduce the amount of fuel used to transport products, supports small businesses, and boosts our local economy.”

MOM’s commitment to the environment and reducing the company’s carbon footprint is reflected in many of its policies, including operating 100-percent wind-powered stores, providing a green benefits program for employees, eliminating plastic bags at check-out counters as part of the company’s plastic surgery program, and bringing the company’s recycling rate to 85 percent of total waste.

A full 100 percent of MOM’s produce sales are certified organic, and roughly two-thirds of store sales are organic – an amazing feat for a grocery chain of 10 large stores. In July 2012, MOM’s informed suppliers that the company would no longer accept foods with high-risk GMO ingredients, and that products with containing suspect ingredients had to be either certified organic or Non-GMO Project verified.

On GMOs…

Q. When did you take action to protect your customers from GMOs?

A. We had an unspoken stance for a while. As of July 2012, we began a more thorough investigation for approving new products with high-risk GMO ingredients such as corn, canola, soy, beets and cotton.

Q. How did your store’s GMO education, labeling and purchasing policies and practices come about?

A. As Prop 37 gained momentum last fall, we amped up our efforts to reformulate our purchasing policies to reflect our position on GMOs. We continue to emphasize the importance of protecting organics, which has always been part of our mission. Working with The Non-GMO Project has facilitated our leverage when working with vendors and reviewing product lines. The non-GMO project offers third-party certification and labeling, which eliminates additional questioning on our end. Very helpful!

Q. What has been the most difficult aspect of keeping GMOs out of your store?

A. The most difficult part is paying attention to not just corn in a product for instance, but also paying attention to derivatives like maltodextrin, ascorbic acid, etc. It’s also been enlightening to work with manufacturers and retailers who aren’t aware about what ingredients might be genetically modified, and educating them on how to avoid such ingredients or get the ingredients tested.

Education is incidental, and happens as we discuss our GMO concerns with vendors. If GMOs are not on their radar, our concerns bring GMOs to the forefront. Vendors learn that retailers such as MOM’s have GMO policies and that it affects what products we will and will not sell.

Q. Please share a few stories about your success in persuading manufacturers to remove or replace GMO ingredients in their products.

A. Most of our success has been with local vendors. Ester’s Granola, for example, was using canola oil in the granola. When we explained that we wouldn’t accept it with the non-organic, GMO-risk canola they began testing coconut oil and have now transitioned the entire line into coconut oil. We they switched, we began to carry the brand. Our Regional Grocery Coordinator is currently working with a chip vendor to change from canola/corn oil to sunflower/safflower oil. It’s still in the works! With larger companies it’s been tougher to effect change. But by standing firm in demanding organic or third-party certification we are ‘voting’ with our dollars.

Q. What customer feedback have you received about your GMO policies and practices?

A. Positive and negative. Many customers are thrilled we are making efforts and feel all the more confident shopping at MOM’s as a result. Other customers are frustrated that manufacturers do not label GMOs already (and we share that frustration). Some customers are disappointed when they can’t find an item in our stores that they like. But they typically understand and appreciate when we explain our reasons for not carrying it. Our leadership team is discussing ideas for how to communicate GMO-based product changes with customers.

Q. What tools could OCA or the natural foods industry provide that would help you and other grocers keep GMOs out of the food supply?

A. Keep pushing organics. We see a trend that brands are considering non-GMO more important than organic and we thinking that’s the wrong message. Organic means that it can’t be GMO or GE, which alleviates the need of having verified non-GMO. Organic is much better for the environment. We’re seeing brands that are organic and don’t have high potential GMOs going through verification because that’s what they believe the customer wants. If something is USDA organic then by definition it cannot be genetically engineered. This tells us that we need to do more educating of both customers and manufacturers. Anecdotally, brands used to come in and the first thing they would say is, “look, it’s organic!” Now they come in and the first thing they mention is, “look, it’s non-GMO.” It would also be helpful to have a standard, across-the-board definition of “natural,” and whether a product labeled “natural” does or does not allow GMOs.

Q. What would you like to tell other grocers thinking about taking products with GMO ingredients off their shelves?

A. That it’s a daunting task! We’ve been able to eliminate non-organic potential GMOs when we have an organic alternative. For instance removing non-organic canola oil in favor of just carrying organic, and also regular milk yogurt. But by no means are we close to eliminating all, and we know of no grocery store in the country that can say any different. Still, overall customer response has been positive, and we see vendors trying to adjust to stay relevant.

On Mission and Values . . .

Q. What makes your store special in the competitive natural foods marketplace?

A. Our purpose: to protect and restore the environment. We make our decisions based on that purpose, a purpose our customers value and trust. We only offer 100-percent USDA certified organic produce. We are 100-percent wind powered as of 2005. We offer free electric car charging at many of our stores. We have in-store recycling for customers and free tire inflation before winter. Our customers often tell us that our customer service is extraordinary, which keeps us striving to offer more and better services to our community.

Q. Describe your store’s mission and values.

A. Our Purpose is to protect and restore the environment.

Q. How does your store express these values through your purchasing policies?

A. MOM’s purchasing policies reflect our values and purpose in a variety of ways. For instance, MOM’s only sells sustainable seafood based on “Best Choice” recommendations from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. We also encourage vendor products that contain palm oil to use Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) palm. RSPO is an international multi stakeholder organization and certification scheme for sustainable palm oil.

Our produce department sells only 100-percent USDA Certified organic produce, and chooses to work with local farms that maintain the native ecosystems and forests on their property and implement practices that promote beneficial organisms and biodiversity. These farms include Mother Earth, Claggett Farm, Lady Moon Farm.

We sell heirloom seed varieties in the spring to preserve traditional varietals and source as much local honey as possible to support the pollination of local flora. For honeys originating from other parts of the country, we ask for purity testing to ensure that it includes pollen from the particular varietal.

Q. What are your store’s goals?

A. 1) To educate customers and our communities about protecting and restoring the environment. 2) To continually increase our organic offerings, by bringing in organic products whenever possible. 3) To have an impact on the grocery and retail industries by sharing our environmental policies and encouraging them to adopt similar policies.

Personally speaking . . .

Q. What do you find most enjoyable and gratifying about the retail grocery business?

A. Learning about the industry, interacting with customers, offering stellar customer service, having the opportunity to learn and educate about the environment and organics.

Q. How did you get interested in natural foods retailing, and what keeps you in the business?

A. Scott Nash started MOM’s in 1987 at the age of 22 with an initial investment of $100. MOM’s was originally called Organic Foods Express (OFE) and operated as a home-delivery/mail order company out of Scott‘s mom’s garage. Eventually, as the retail aspect of OFE increased, the delivery/mail order was phased out. OFE eventually opened to the public seven days a week for retail sales and soon changed the name to My Organic Market and then MOM’s Organic Market. Our niche is high quality organic produce, fair prices, and exceptional customer service. Many companies have huge marketing budgets, the cost of which they share with their customers by raising prices. MOM’s rarely pays for advertising and mainly relies on word of mouth. We pass the savings on to our customers. Our Regional Grocery Coordinators work hard to buy product in quantities that suit a company of our size, and we share those savings with our customers as well. Lastly, we don’t overcharge our customers! What keeps us in the business is our desire to uphold our purpose and simultaneously, our relationship with our customers. We strive to provide our large customer base with responsible grocery choices at good prices, to make their shopping experience the easiest it can be.

Q. What else would you like us to know about your store?

A. We love hearing from customers! Our owner, Scott Nash, is available by email (scott@momsorganicmarket.com) and phone (301.767.9433) for any question, concern, need, or comment that our customers may have. Our customers have great ideas and we want to hear from them all.

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Comments

  1. Vicki Anderson says

    I have never been to MOM’s but I sure would go if I lived by you. I commend you on your mission statement and values. Vital to our existence today. You have gone beyond the typical grocery store and that deserves a standing ovation. My hat is off to you, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for leading by example!!!!!!

  2. liberty blueskyes says

    Thanks for all you do to keep bringing us healthy, organic food! I live in New Mexico but all organic farmers and their outlets are as important to me as the ones in my own state. And in fact, if you bring a Mom’s to Santa Fe, I will be happy to matronize your store.

  3. REGINA RICHARDS says

    Scott, as a former customer and employee (I now live in CO), I feel proud to know your ethics and values first hand. I, too, often tell people that I vote with my pocketbook, and am willing to pay a bit more for quality products from businesses that share my values AND walk their talk.

    You are an inspiration! Hold fast the course….. I’ll be there cheering you on!

  4. D. Parker says

    Any chance you will do mail order out of state, way out of state as in down south?

    Second option – know a similar business in the Texas, Louisiana area?

  5. danielle says

    THANK GOD FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU WHO CARE ABOUT OUR FOOD AND HEALTH… ” LET FOOD BE THY MEDICINE AND MEDICINE BE THY FOOD”–

  6. Jacob Silver says

    You are doing great work, and very important for the health of the public. The pro-GMO people always cite Golden Rice as a healthful GMO product. It is a very good GMO product to supply Vitamin A to Vitamin A deficient people in Asia. But Golden Rice is not distributed in the USA. What is distributed is Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready corn and other vegetables. This offers no health benefits, and it contains poisons, particularly it contains endocrine disruptors. That is the reason for the labeling movement in this country. And anybody to mentions Golden Rice and does not mention Round-Up Ready corn and other vegetables is dishonest.

  7. helene says

    What a nice initiative your shop is! I don’t live in the US, but I’m still very happy to read about your shop! Wishing you and your activities the best success. I am going to promote to my customers who are mostly living in the US.

  8. Karen says

    Hi, I live in Ohio. Do you have a price list and would I be able to purchase fruits & veggies online, pay by master card and have the order shipped to me in a very reasonable time frame?

    Thank you so much for your stores and all of your involvement in the entire matter in this country to help keep us safe and healthy.

  9. Elizabeth Fucci says

    We “discovered” MOM’s about 5 months ago, trying it out one morning on our way to our usual supermarket. We liked what we saw, and the following week did the same routine: MOM’s first, then the usual supermarket. By week #3, it was MOM’s ONLY, for everything edible, and many items that are not edible. We haven’t been inside a regular supermarket since. Yes, we had to make a few minor dietary changes, but if you asked me what they were, I couldn’t even say, because the changes were simply in choosing a new brand over an old one. The staff at MOM’s beats the staff in any store I’ve ever been in, anywhere, ever. Gung-ho, caring, helpful, fun to chat with… shopping at MOM’s is almost as much a social event as a necessary food-shopping foray! Prices are in line with what we find at the more upscale regular supermarkets, and in some cases MOM’s is cheaper. I wish them every success, and I hope they expand out into the rest of the country so that people, everywhere, will have a viable option apart from the same old, same old. Thank you, MOM’s. You’ve made a HUGE positive change in OUR lives, and I’m sure everyone else who shops there can say the same!

  10. says

    I live in SoCa and we do have good choices for organic food but still there is to much GMO food out there that I do not want my kids to eat. Wish you were here! Hopefully we will be able to get our bill passed concerning GMO labeling…..

  11. Joanne says

    Hi Moms,
    My community would love it if you would consider migrating north. I live in a small suburban town in Trenton/Princeton NJ area – Ewing, and having a food market like Moms would be fabulous. We are trying to extend the green movement in our town. Thanks for your commitment to the environment.

  12. Carol Berghen says

    Yeah MOM’s! I travel from San Francisco 2-3 times per year to Everett, PA via Dulles Airport. I always stop at MOM’s to get organic produce and other organic favorites for my PA visit as I am a committed organic food shopper. I am so glad MOM’s is there and is a top 12 OCA grocer. And thank you for your contribution to the Prop 37 labeling ballot initiative. Unfortunately, California is not completely enlightened.

  13. Elizabeth Martin says

    Hi MOM – I’m glad to see you are supporting GMO labeling. I thought you would. I don’t live in Frederick anymore and your store is one of the things I really miss. I moved back to Massachusetts. Any chance you’ll migrate farther north? I’ve lived all over the US and MOM is my favorite market anywhere. Not too small, not too big, great produce, and all my favored products. Good prices and nice people too.

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  1. […] MOM’s Organic Market, Baltimore, MD & Washington, DC … – MOM’s Organic Market, Baltimore, MD & Washington, DC. 10 stores in Baltimore, MD and Washington DC area … MOM’s Organic Market is dedicated to supporting organic … OFE eventually opened to the public seven days a week for retail sales and soon changed the name to My Organic Market and then … […]

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