When it comes to organic, Sue Ryan walks the talk

July 16, 2013

One of my pet peeves about the food industry (other than the fact that 5 Guys is not open 24 hours and that I can’t get Häagen Dazs salted caramel ice cream bars mailed to me) is people or companies that jump on every passing bandwagon. It’s always something: high protein, low protein, health foods, non-health foods, triple burgers, no triple burgers, high fat, low fat, gluten this-or-that (except in the case of a medical condition) and various and sundry fads du jour. As a food writer, I feel obligated to do some research before I knee-jerk into whatever the latest feel-good craze may be. Just because “everybody’s doing it” doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s supported by anything other than marketing hype and hearsay.

Then there are the people and companies out there that actually stand behind what they promote. They “walk the talk,” if you will, by going the extra mile to not only practice what they preach, but to demonstrate the foundation for whatever benefits may exist; be it better taste or actual, proven advantages to health.

One of those people is Sue Ryan, proprietor of the recently opened Good Earth Foods behind Bin 66 wines on the "forgotten mile" in Rehoboth Beach. Sue has been walking the talk for the last nine years at her original Good Earth Foods market near Bethany Beach in Clarkesville.

When Sue’s parents retired and moved to the Bethany Beach area, she visited just about every weekend. When it came time for her and her husband to retire, their plan was to simply “drop out.” That might have actually happened had it not been for her enthusiastic demeanor. This woman could make you excited about getting an ingrown toenail! And it’s that same enthusiasm that fuels the friendly and accommodating attitude at her brand new market.

So Sue decided to fill what she felt was a need for a southern Sussex County natural grocery store. Her Clarksville “mothership” is now the longest-running certified organic market in the state. She defines organic clearly and concisely: “The meat we sell has been fed with grain that is not sprayed with chemicals. No pesticides, no growth hormones, no antibiotics, no nothing. And we do not use GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

But Good Earth Market isn’t just shelves stocked with healthy sounding stuff. She actually grows the majority of her produce right there on her farm in Clarksville. Her heirloom tomatoes, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, honey, specialty peppers, squash, assorted herbs and other grown goodies are go-to ingredients for the chefs at Matt’s Fish Camp, Bluecoast Seafood Grill and NorthEast Seafood Kitchen. In fact, über-chef (and owner of those restaurants) Matt Haley partners up with Sue several times a year to craft farm-to-table dinners served al fresco, country-style right there on the farm. Everything they serve is created entirely from Good Earth’s organic products. But you don’t have to attend the dinners in order to try them (though the events are lots of fun). Good Earth Market also sells her freshly picked wares at the Fenwick, Lewes and Bethany Beach farmers’ markets.

Sue Ryan is nothing if not specific. “What you won’t find in my store are preservatives, MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors or colors. What you will find are delicious, clean chips, cookies, snacks, organic milk, free-range chicken and eggs, grass-fed beef, pork and organic cheeses. “You know,” she smiles, “Things people crave.” Her meats and dairy products are imported from just up the road at The Farm, Carolyn Berl-Donald’s 100 percent USDA-certified organic homestead in Georgetown.

“Some of the organic items might cost a little more, but it’s all about the flavor. I promise that you will get what you pay for,” says Sue. She stands ready to prove that seven days a week year-round; Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 9 a.m. ‘til 7 p.m. Contact Rehoboth’s brand new Good Earth Market at 302-226-FARM.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.

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