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All About Organic Basic Food in Hoboken

by Yiwei Gu
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Ah yes, going exclusively organic — something many of us have tried and have maybe failed at. Here’s the thing about going organic — it is possible, but sometimes those Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on the shelf literally call out our names. But, going and shopping organic can be easy, especially with a store like  Organic Basic Food to support us. Located at 204 Washington Street in Hoboken, this local food store is currently open and serving the Mile Square community healthy {and delicious} snacks + grocery items. 

The Story Behind Organic Basic Food 

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{Photo credit: @organicbasicfood}

“We buy in bulk, and we try to pass the discounts we get from vendors to customers,” Eric, Organic Basic Food’s current owner, told Hoboken Girl. He is actually the second-generation owner of the store, having taken over the business from his father, an immigrant from Asia, who opened the store in Hoboken more than 20 years ago.

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“He worked as a truck driver when he first got here, but he believed that the food business has great potential.” The first food-related business the family ran was a small deli, to which more grocery items were soon added. “Then my father started thinking, how can we distinguish ourselves from the already very crowded grocery business in Hoboken? That’s how we began selling organic products.”

That was in 1995, long before the organic-food focus took hold in America, and sourcing was a challenge. But the decision to focus on organic products and gourmet food proved to be visionary, and the hard work of the early years paid off. 

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{Photo credit: @organicbasicfood}

With Hoboken’s changing demographics, Organic Basic Food soon gained a large group of loyal customers, many of whom are health-conscious young professionals willing to shop for high-quality products for themselves and their families. The store is also quick to adjust to shifting customer demands. Having noticed that many shoppers are young mothers, for example, Eric expanded its nutritional supplement and infant food section. “I myself was not an expert in nutritional supplements, to begin with, but we were able to find the right people to build up the product selection,” Eric said.

When asked about how he selects his products, Eric said that the key was to keep up with the food market trends. “Customers are smart. They are aware of what’s available in the market, and they will ask for that. For example, when we first started, protein powders are mostly whey protein. These days customers are more likely looking for plant-based, all-natural products. And we would have to add those. ” 

With an education in food science and a large network of suppliers, many based in Europe where there is a well-established organic certification system, he is able to closely track the latest trends in the market, and adjust the product offerings accordingly. 

What You’ll Find on the Shelves 

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{Photo credit: @organicbasicfood}

For one thing, shopping at Organic Basic Food is fun. There is a sense of treasure hunt wandering its aisles. The grocery selection can be loosely described as everyday staples with a fun twist. There are regular canned beans, but you can also find borlotti beans, cooked to the perfect creaminess and packed in sturdy glass jars. In addition to sustainably fished canned tuna, there is also gourmet-grade Ventresca — hand-cut velvety tuna belly packed in olive oil. Less commonplace produce such as bird’s eye chili peppers and porcini mushrooms stand side by side with flavorful ingredients that American home cooks have gotten familiar with only in recent years, such as ghee and cardamon. The selection is large but not overwhelming, giving both foodies and health enthusiasts plenty of options to experiment.

Speaking of health, there are plenty of options for healthy food, or at least “healthy-seeming food,” made in small batches by non-mass market producers. They come with a variety of flavors and options accommodating all sorts of dietary restrictions and preferences, like lemon and dill flavored gluten-free crackers with flax seeds.

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And the pantry section is more than sugar-free energy bars and vegan protein powders. Those looking for more hedonistic stuff can also take their treats to the next level. Here you can find niche brands of sweet and savory snacks from around the world {think licorice from Finland or hazelnut spread from Italy}, giving your mid-afternoon snacking a little sense of globe-trotting. 

Beyond Food

 Alongside the food, there is also a huge selection of essential oils, supplements, and other health and beauty products. During a pandemic when many of us are using  Lysol to wipe down everything {sometimes including fruit and vegetables}, it is soothing to simply browse among the paper wraps, cotton balls, and wooden handles, or look at the shelves of glass bottles that almost take up an entire wall. There are also plenty of less conventional products that would add some fun twists to your health and beauty routine. You’ll find  hand sanitizer gels from South Korea packed in baby blue colored tubes and blocks of Castile soaps made from coconut oil. 

Different Price Points

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{Photo credit: @organicbasicfood}

Prices at Organic Basic Food are surprisingly affordable, even compared to large chain stores such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s {Ventresca tuna mentioned above is sold at about half the price of what you’ll find it for at Whole Foods’, for example}. 

The Future of Organic Basic Food

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{Photo credit: @organicbasicfood}

Eric told us that he is considering expanding the store’s online footprint. Coincidentally, Organic Basic Food signed up with the gourmet grocery delivery platform Mercato not long before the COVID-19 pandemic, which has enabled the store to respond to the surging demand for delivery service promptly.   

“That was lucky. But we still cannot do everything we want at the current state. When things stabilize or return to normal, we will think about how to scale up the e-commerce part of the store, either by partnering with a platform or by developing our own system,” he shared.

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{Photo credit: @organicbasicfood}

It would be to see Organic Basic Food’s products accessible to more people in our community, whether in lockdown or not, since it’s healthy, affordable, and maybe most importantly, fun.

Have you visited Organic Basic Foods yet? Let us know in the comments!


Did you know: We started a podcast about all things news and lifestyle in Hoboken + Jersey City! Listen to the latest episode of Tea on the Hudson here and subscribe.


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