An ode to iHerb.com

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An ode to iHerb.com

by: Shelley DeWees | .
Groove Korea (groovekorea.com) | .
published: February 27, 2014

The first time I heard about iHerb.com was, appropriately, during my lunch hour. As I munched lazily on my rice, daikon radishes and creamy corn salad - you know the one - I thought, gee, how lame. Staring back up at me under the fluorescent lights was another lunch, the same friggin' one I had yesterday. Itís not like I didn't enjoy miso soup, kimchi and those teeny little quail eggs; hell, rice has become one of my favorite things, lovable for its warm comfort and cheekstuffability. But even the happiest expat, the biggest Korean food junkie and even those who are thoroughly dazzled by their new life on the peninsula have a desire for diversity. I'm in love with Korea, but man, sometimes a person needs a change. 

How perfect, then, that a previously unremarkable coworker came walking down the aisle, bouncy and bubbling as I stared careworn at my uneaten seaweed and said, "Do you want to share my quinoa? I brought enough for both of us." Do I ... wha? Do want to share your, um ... WHAT? She casually passed over a container full of quinoa and kalamata olives, and I gaped. In that little box was a simple meal shining far brighter than my rice and radishes because, damn, how long had it been since I'd had quinoa? And olives?! Her generous offering only represented a slice of what she had at home, as I would eventually come to see later that week: organic sea salt chocolate bars, shredded coconut, whole wheat stoneground flour, green lentils, bags and bags of quinoa and, indeed, grain of every color in the rainbow. Bulgur wheat for tabbouleh, arborio rice for risotto, buckwheat flour for pancakes, amaranth, flax seeds, thick-cut oats and polenta were bursting from her cupboards, alongside a healthy supply of vitamins and supplements she used to "keep away the sad faces."

And it all came from the unassuming online grocer iHerb.com. It has a huge following in Korea, and one visit to the website will show you why; everything a hippie foodie ever wanted is available, from natural bath and beauty products to pantry items and vitamins. You can get sustainably farmed free-trade cacao beans and decent ChapStick (finally), gluten-free flours and barley malt syrup, grain-sweetened fruit spread and raw honey. Almost anything. If Korea doesn't have it, iHerb.com will, and it won't even cost you a fortune. They have near-magical shipping that'll get your box o' goodies out of their warehouse in California, across the ocean and delivered to your door through Korea Post in a matter of five to seven days. Order more than $60 worth of stuff (easy) and this lightning-fast, trackable shipping will only cost you $4. Even Amazon can't do that.

When you first visit the website, you'll need to make an account and fill in all the pertinent information: your address in Korea, your credit card info and your alien registration number to help expedite everything through customs. Once you get it all set up, though, every subsequent order will be a one-click affair. Korean law places restrictions on some foods and outright prohibits others (like poppy seeds), and they also have a strict 15-pound limit per shipment. But iHerb has all these rules integrated directly into the system, so as you're shopping you'll know exactly how much you can buy of each product and how much it will weigh. You'll also get a tracking number to keep tabs on your box, and it'll arrive via regular mail with no requirement for a signature; you'll simply come home and there it'll be, just waiting for you.

What will you make with all your new goods? A Caesar salad with capers? How about a big bowl of popcorn sprinkled with brewers' yeast or a pan of Rice Crispies treats? A pot pie? Maybe a wickedly dark cup of hot chocolate? Whatever you want, it's yours. The remedy for homesickness and ho-hum lunches is at iHerb.com, so go there. Now.

Groove Korea website

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