We strictly abide by market-wide standards, because we believe you deserve high quality food and product choices.  We want to maintain your trust by staying aware about issues that may affect food quality.  Our goal is to focus on your well-being, source from local brands and organizations, and stay transparent through it all.

Every product that we put on our shelves goes through a four-step process, to ensure that it meets our high quality standards.  This process is conducted by our Purchasing Director and our Operations Committee, so nothing is overlooked.

Our Four-Step Buying Process:

  1. Identifying the Source: Dawson’s Market stays local in order to bring you fresh products, so we intend to make sure your product comes from a local source.  Just as important is that the source is a company whose values and reputation iare in line with our own.
  2. Analyzing the Ingredients: There is a long list of ingredients that have been completely banned from being in any of the products we carry in our market.  Ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, parabens, nitrates, artificial flavors and growth hormones are not welcome.  You can see that list by clicking here.
  3. Meeting Our Standards: Every product we carry must meet our high quality standards (listed below) in order to be stocked on our shelves.  These standards differ depending on the type of product, but generally, we are looking for natural and organic, fresh, locally produced and environmentally sound products.
  4. The “Take Home” Test: Finally, if the product in question is not one we would want to take home ourselves, then it doesn’t make the cut.  Does it taste good?  Does it smell good?  Is it fresh and healthy?  We ask ourselves these questions and decide based on a majority before we decide to carry a product.


Customer Empowerment

As a health conscious consumer, you like to stay up-to-date with your food and product information, making sure you're aware of any potential purchasing risks that may impact you. At Dawson's Market, we strive to help you stay aware and provide you with as many educational resources and shopping solutions as we can. If we can't find the right food or product option to meet your nutritional needs, we'll still keep you informed, making sure you continue in the right direction without making any regretful purchases.


Advertising To Children/Unhealthy Products

Marketing unhealthy food to your children can put pressure on you as a parent, and is something we don’t practice at Dawson’s Market.  Unlike many big-box natural food chains, we don’t fall to corporate “tie-ins” or cartoon character-based advertising in our market.  At our grocery store, we’ve removed all products that are packaged to target your children through these kinds of ploys.  Instead, we provide ways you can educate your children to help them build a nutritious diet and recognize the merits of a healthy lifestyle.


Produce Free of Biosolids

We find it utterly horrible that the use of biosolids processed from sewage sludge, industrial chemical residues, and even human waste to fertilize produce is ignored by many grocery store chains.  For us, ignorance is not an option - we take action to protect you from the health risks involved in consuming such produce.  Our vendors give us a 100% guarantee that no piece of food sold in our produce department is fertilized using biosolids.  It’s just another way we keep your health a top priority.



A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified using recombinant DNA methods (also called gene splicing), gene modification or transgenic technology. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. This manipulation of nature occurs in up to 90% of soybeans, corn, cotton, canola and sugar beets that are incorporated into our food without any government regulation or required labeling.  We believe the unknown health risks of consuming genetically modified foods is apparent and that it’s our duty as your grocer to demand better choices for you.

We are proud members of the Non-GMO Project, a non-profit multi-stakeholder collaboration committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices. 


Our Commitment to Transparency

At Dawson’s Market, we are committed to being open and transparent with our business and its practices.  This commitment is reflected on our sales floor, in our listed ingredients and nutrition content and right here on our website.  We strive to provide accessible information to each and every facet of our market.  If there is ever a question in mind about the products we provide you, let us know.  We will do our best to get you an answer.

We also provide profiles of our farmers and ensure that their products follow the national guidelines for Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), showing origins clearly labeled on each sign.


The Deli

Locally-Made Dishes

At our hot bar and in our deli case, you’ll come across pins that read, “locally-made.”  If you see this, it means that whatever dish it is on is made locally, in the Rockville community.  These are dishes that were brought in by local restaurants and chefs with whom we’ve established partnerships.  

The result is you having healthier, quality prepared foods.  We’re certain you’ll notice a difference in freshness and flavor when compared to other grocer’s foods that are handled, packaged, and shipped from faraway kitchens.  It’s our market’s signature approach and what differentiates us from those big box natural food chains.  

Our foods are subject to the same four-step buying process as any other products we offer.  The “locally-made” integrity pin is reserved for local deli foods that meet our standards.

Specialty Diets

The Dawson’s Market deli offers you vegetarian, dairy-free, raw, gluten-free, low sugar and low sodium options.  No matter what diet you eat, you’re sure to find something healthy and delicious to satisfy you.  We want you to be able to come in and eat food that is good for you and that fits your dietary needs, without having to compromise or not eat at all.

Sweeteners In Our Prepared Foods 

When necessary, we use honey, maple syrup, cane sugar or light brown sugar to sweeten sauces.  Our raw agave is never applied as a sweetener but may be used lightly as an emulsifying agent along with honey in our vinaigrettes to help balance out acids, vinegars or heat.  We never use refined sugars as sweeteners.

Healthy Oils

Cooking oils turn rancid when heated past their heat tolerance levels and are toxic to consume.  Certain oils are processed with high-heat refining and, according to many experts, are already toxic when bottled for sale.  Major natural food chains tend to allow these spoiled products to pass to their customers as they are cheap to cook with and better for their bottom line.  We don’t let that happen to you.

At our deli, we only cook with:

  • Olive oil: extra virgin, first cold pressed, unrefined and non-GMO

  • Coconut oil: extra virgin, unrefined and non-GMO

  • Safflower/Sunflower Oil (made for cooking): non-GMO, and high oleic acid.

  • Oil that is naturally refined using citric acid (from fruit) and never heated over 250 degrees.

These oils are healthy alternatives to the canola, corn, and soy oils commonly cooked with at other natural food chain delis.  Make the comparison and see for yourself - the evidence is clear.

Environmentally Friendly Plates & Utensils

Our prepared foods department uses only melamine-free, microwave safe plates.  Melamine (or melamine formaldehyde) is a plastic resin that can be found in non-microwave safe dishware.  When heated at high temperatures, it can crack, chip or break and release toxins into food.  The traces of formaldehyde that can be found in ware made with melamine are a potent carcinogen that should definitely avoid.  In addition to safe plates, we stock reusable metal silverware and reusable drinking cups for you.  This way, when you have breakfast, lunch or dinner with us, you can have peace of mind knowing your health is never compromised.


The Products We Carry

No Factory-Farmed Dairy Products

Inhumane environments and practices are cruel and unconscionable ways of raising animals that go against our human values.  We don’t waiver to cost-cutting arguments that put money over moral integrity.

No High Fructose Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup is a commonly used, cheap, and concentrated sweetener found in the ingredients of many mass-produced products.  It has been connected to illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, and tooth decay.  You will not find high fructose corn syrup at Dawson’s Market, as we absolutely refuse to carry products that contain this sweetener.  We keep a close eye on food safety and food recalls, posting up-to-the-minute information on our website and Facebook.

Non-Toxic Cleaners and Detergents Made with Plant-Based Ingredients

Several commercially available household cleaners and detergents contain toxic chemicals that pose a risk to your health if mishandled or misused.  Since we wouldn’t want that happening, we like to provide you with only non-toxic cleaners and detergents made from safe, plant-based ingredients.  

No Toxic Chemical Preservatives, Parabens or Fillers in our Body Care Products

Parabens are widely used preservatives found in many body care products.  When present, they’re quickly absorbed and metabolized and have been linked to breast cancer in both men and women.  They are just one example of the toxic chemical preservatives and fillers in loosely regulated body care products.  At Dawson’s Market, we review all body care products to make sure no product containing these chemicals enters our market or your system.  

80% Recycled Paper Products Free of Chlorine and Bleach

Without recycling, the future of our planet and environment would be severely at risk.  This makes it an obvious choice for Dawson’s Market to primarily offer recycled, chlorine-free and bleach-free paper products that help keep your life clean of the toxins used in manufacturing.


Meat & Seafood

Farmer Relationships

Since we source our meat, poultry and seafood locally, we get the chance to physically visit the farms where our food comes from.  We get to see the conditions, environments and practices that the farmers provide for their livestock.  This also gives us a chance to establish a relationship with our farmers, opening up communication so that they understand our expectations and we understand their process.  We visit our farmers at least once a year to keep our standards up-to-date.  Transparency goes both ways at Dawson’s Market.

Room to Roam

It is highly important to us that the animals at the farms we work with are free-range, meaning that they have access to the outdoors.  In addition to this, we seek out farmers who go a step further and provide free-roaming and pasture-raised animals, which allow animals much more freedom and access to the outdoors.  This gives the animals the ability to move naturally in and out of their shelters.

Irradiation-Free Meat

Irradiation is a process used to kill bacteria found in meat products.  Not only does irradiation give treated meats unnatural flavor and texture, it can also be used to mask unsanitary conditions in slaughterhouses leaving behind risks of E. Coli and Salmonella contamination.  These diseases and others can be spread through the feces and urine that irradiation hides.  We won’t sell you meat products exposed to irradiation...ever.

No Growth Hormones, No Antibiotics

Giving animals hormones to up their size and pumping them full of antibiotics to flush their system of bacteria is an upsetting and inhumane way to raise animals in unsanitary conditions.  Evidence has proven that ingesting meat and fish raised using these practices is harmful.  In our efforts to keep you safe from this type of food, we only purchase meat and fish from farmers who use humane practices to raise animals.  This means no hormones and no antibiotics trickling into your body either.

No Nitrates, No Nitrites

Nitrates and nitrites are proven to be toxic to humans, yet many larger grocery store chains allow their use as meat-curing agents, washing away botulism and rancidity.  It sounds sick because it really is sick.  The consumption of nitrates by children has been known to lead to impairment in oxygen intake, which causes “blue baby syndrome.”  Excessive consumption of nitrates and nitrites in adults has been linked with cancer, brain tumors, leukemia and nasopharyngeal.  Suffice it to say, we stay far, far away from these chemicals.

No Factory-Farmed Meat Products

Just as we do not offer factory-farmed dairy products, we also do not offer factory-farmed meat products.  We refuse to condone inhumane and cruel ways of animal raising practiced by companies who only focus on the bottom line of their ledger.

Sustainably-Farmed Fish/Aquaculture

We support suppliers that use sustainable fish farming practices.  These practices preserve the quality of fish and the continuation of their species, as it is shown that we humans are notably depleting the world’s fish supply.  We want to be part of the solution, not encourage the problem.

In aquaculture, fish are contained in controlled areas, typically by netting.

The chances of by-catching (the capture of non-targeted fish) are nearly eliminated using aquaculture.  When practices are done correctly and with control, this high-quality seafood practice can remain sustainable and balanced.

Bakery & Cheese

No Bleached or Bromated Flours

Azodicarbonamide, chlorine dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide are a few of the hazardous chemicals used to bleach flour, simply to provide foods with whiter colors.  Potassium bromate is a category 2b carcinogen used in bromating - a process that improves the elasticity and rise of commercially-produced dough.  The European Union prohibits the use of chlorine bromates and peroxides.  In the UK and Canada, bromating has been banned.  

Though our government has yet to ban these practices, Dawson’s Market has already done so.  The goods produced in our bakery are free of bleached and bromated flours.  It does not, however, affect the deliciousness of our products.

No Dyes, Hormones, Stabilizers and Preservatives

We’ve brought the hammer down on the use of food dyes, growth hormones, preservatives, and stabilizers in the production of cheese.  Food dyes contain harmful synthetic ingredients, growth hormones are harmful in and of themselves, and preservatives like potassium sorbate damage us at the expense of clearing mold and bacteria that would not be present in sanitarily produced cheese.  The cheese at Dawson’s Market is free of all of these things.  We proudly promote good food made under natural means.


For a full list of our banned ingredients, click here.

Community Request

Community Request

We listened to your requests. As you may know Dawson’s has always had a strict set of standards for all
of the products we stock. These standards travel around the store consistently from one department to
the other. We will always stock primarily items that meet these standards. However, with the reopening
of Dawson’s in 2018 we have added a few items that we sign as “Community Requests”. These account
for less the 5% of the items in the store and are found mostly in our Grocery department. Examples of
these items include bottled Coke, Wonder Bread, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Daisy Sour Cream,
Budweiser, Bounty Paper Towels, Windex, and Berger Cookies. These items are selected because they
either represent a significantly lower cost then their natural alternative, fill a gap where no natural
version is available, or are top of class/brand with a compelling story or history. We do our best to sign
all of these items with the Red Community Request Signage. If you are ever unsure if an item is a
Community Request please ask any steward and we will identify the ingredients that may be of concern.
Dawson’s is committed to being a long-term part of the community. To achieve this goal, we have
listened to our customers and added items that will help them complete their full grocery shop with us
and not have to travel to another store for a few items.