I never thought it really mattered where you got your spices. I figured whatever was on the grocery store shelf was good enough, you know? But after I started getting my spices direct from the spice companies, I started to notice a BIG difference. The flavors and aromas from these herbs and spices were more pungent, stronger than the ones I had been buying at my local store. I was surprised by the difference. But the most surprising thing I discovered was that these better spices were often cheaper than the ones on the grocery store shelf! For example, some of the most common herbs and spices I buy are about $1 less when I buy direct from a spice company. And since they taste fresher anyway, it is a double win.
Why is there a difference? It may be because the spice aisle makes up only a small part of your grocery store or specialty store. So spices are only a small portion of their business. Each individual jar of herbs or spices might sit on the shelf for quite a while. Certain ones just don't move fast enough to ensure that what you are getting is fresh. It's as simple as that. When you buy direct from the company, you are getting a fresh product from a source that ONLY handles herbs and spices, so the quality and freshness are guaranteed.
Some of these spice companies have retail stores you can go to, and some of them only offer online sales. If you are lucky enough to have a spice store in your area, you can save yourself the shipping costs. But even when I spend $6-8 on shipping, I generally save money when compared to the grocery store prices - the lower cost of the merchandise makes up for the shipping price.
The other big reason to buy your herbs and spices direct from a spice company is VARIETY. There is a huge variety of items that you've probably never even heard of, and a whole array of unique spice blends that are not available in grocery stores. For example, the Mystic Blue Spice Company offers an array of small batch spice blends and flavored sugars like Lavender Sugar. Penzey's Spices offers four different types of cinnamon. And they both offer great salt-free blends as well.
Order your next batch of spices direct from a spice company and I guarantee you will notice a difference!