our definition of natural foods

To us, natural foods are whole foods that are as pure and minimally processed as we can find them—with as little as possible removed and with nothing artificial added. Our natural foods are loaded with nutrients and in balance, both within the foods themselves and with nature in general. Natural, whole foods at Basics are free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

Finding the Right Mix: Our Purchasing Standards

Your Co-op strives to meet the needs of as many Owners as possible. In a perfect world (and climate), we would all eat only local and organic foods. Basics realizes that for the majority of our shoppers, that is not practical and we need to meet a wider range of needs. We strive to offer choices to fit a wide variety of household budgets and lifestyles.

We offer choices to our shoppers by balancing Owner and shopper demands with our cooperative values and mission, which includes: serving our community by operating in a socially responsible and financially sound manner; providing a full selection of natural foods, quality products and necessities at basic prices; and promoting awareness about food, nutrition, health, and cooperative values. (Basics Bylaws, Article 1 section 1.2)

Over the years, the product mix at Basics has had to evolve to meet the needs of more Owners and shoppers while staying true to that mission. For example, in the 90’s the meat section was added to serve our non-vegetarian shoppers. In the early 2000’s gluten-free was added to our allergen-free options. In 2014 we brought in local and organic beer, wine and spirits.

The ever-changing marketplace, combined with continued changes in the way our food is produced, ensure that we will always be kept on our toes regarding how to choose which products are on our shelves.

As a cooperative, we believe you have the right to know how we make those choices. Here is what our purchasing guidelines look like today:

Basics will give preference to products that meet the following standards:

Grown or produced locally (In WI or within 100 miles) or regionally

Certified organic


Cruelty free

Certified humane

Antibiotic and hormone free

Fair trade

Naturally flavored or colored

Minimal/responsible packaging

Meets the need of people on specialty diets, such as wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan, etc.

Requested by Basics Co-op Owners

We will not knowingly carry products that contain or were produced with:

Artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

Nitrates or nitrites

Hydrogenated oils (trans fats)

High fructose corn syrup


Antibiotics or growth hormones

Animal testing

Our Boycott Policy
Basics does not directly participate in brand boycotts if the products meet our quality standards and are requested by Owners. We will, however, investigate whether or not we might replace a product or brand with a similar quality option from a company whose ethics and values align more closely with those of the Co-op.

As with every policy and procedure at your Co-op, these considerations are subject to revision and updated regularly. The most important variable to the mix is YOU – our customers! Please continue to let us know what products you want and don’t want at YOUR Co-op, verbally, via the suggestion box, and by voting with your dollars at the register!

Fresh Local & Organic Produce

The Basics Co-op Produce Department carries a variety of organically grown produce including fruits, vegetables, herbs and seasonal plants. We also take pride in offering as much locally grown produce as we are able to source, year round!

How do I know what is local?

When you visit the store, be sure to check the chalkboard just inside the front door- we update it weekly with our locally grown availability, including the name and location of the farms who supplied each item this week.

Also look for the “local color” stickers we use all over the store next to price tags to denote that an item was grown in Wisconsin.

*Basics Co-op Owners enjoy 10% off regular-priced Fresh Produce every Monday!

Produce Storage Guide

Have a Gouda Day!

Probiotic Cheese, Raw Cheese, Organic Cheese, Grass-Fed Cheese, Award Winning Artisan Cheese & Cheese Alternatives

Located on prime Wisconsin dairy land, Basics of course offers a huge selection of Wisconsin cheeses! Brick, Farmers, Colby, Swiss, Cheddar, Gouda, you name it- we have it. If we don’t, we’ll be happy to special order it for you! Our WI Cheese Boxes are the perfect gift for family and friends who don’t have the luxury of living in the Dairy State…and we’re happy to ship them anywhere in the continental U.S. from October through May.

For our customers with a pallet for world cheeses, we also offer the best of imported varieties ranging from Italian Parmigiano Reggiano to Irish Dubliner and everything in between. For our vegan friends we offer a wide selection of cheese alternatives.

Regardless of origin, each variety in our cheese case is carefully and thoughtfully screened- at our store you will NOT find artificial colors or flavors, trans fats or other “yucky” fake ingredients. We Read the Labels, So You Don’t Have To.


Great Cuts, Local Farm-Fresh Eggs

We strive to find the finest and freshest dairy, meat and eggs produced using environmentally friendly and humane practices. We do our best to source from local family farmers and producers first before we source from elsewhere.

At Basics we offer both fresh and fresh-frozen meats including beef, bison, poultry, pork, lamb, seafood and venison. On a given day our fresh meat case is filled with steaks, roasts, hot dogs, gourmet sausages, pork chops, ground beef, whole chickens, chicken breasts and drumsticks. The freezer boasts a selection including ground turkey, beef and venison, and even locally raised pheasant.

You may have noticed many egg brand labels claim “farm fresh.” The vast majority of them are not, however, sold 7 miles down the road from the chicken coop! Our eggs come an average of twice weekly from Murphy’s Farm in nearby Milton, WI.

As with every product at Basics our natural meat and eggs have been carefully selected to avoid all artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. None of our meat contains added nitrates or nitrites.

Dry Grocery

Everything from Natural & Organic Snacks to Soups, Sauces, Baking Ingredients & MORE!

While healthy eating begins in the periphery of the store with fresh ingredients, we also carry a huge selection of natural and organic dry pantry goods. Chips, crackers, cookies, hot and cold cereals, granola, even fruit juice-based candy are featured in our center aisles. Canned and boxed meal solutions abound, including BPA-free canned vegetables and beans as well as aseptic packaged soups, sauces and dairy alternatives. All dry grocery at Basics is free of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

Gluten Free

An entire aisle at Basics as well as a section of the Frozen Department are dedicated exclusively to Gluten Free groceries.

Natural foods stores have historically been THE place to go for allergen-friendly and alternative diet foods. The shorter the list of ingredients, the easier it is to find what you’re looking for (or avoiding)! With the prevalence of Celiac disease on the rise and an increase in reported gluten sensitivities in recent years, Basics has been sure to increase our selection of wheat and gluten free natural groceries accordingly. Not only are the Gluten Free products at Basics carefully screened (we check every single ingredient on every single label before we place it in the Gluten Free section), they are also free of all artificial ingredients, to the same standards as the rest of our natural foods storewide.

Bulk Department

Buy a Pinch or a Pound! Our Bulk aisles offer all kinds of everyday staples for purchase by the pound: herbs and spices, grains, nuts,  seeds, granola, trail mixes and snacks, flours, rice, sweeteners, and beans. Case quantities are also available by special order.

Great Reasons to Buy From Bulk:

  • Save Money – often dollars on the pound compared to the exact same foods pre-packaged!
  • Decrease Waste – buy just the amount you need.
  • Go Green- significantly less plastic and paper are used for packaging of bulk products. Plus, you can refill your own containers from home instead of adding more to the landfill.

This is how easy it is to buy in bulk!