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I’ve got ethics sense about this ‘health store’ malarkey


I’ve got ethics sense about this ‘health store’ malarkey

In a world of appalling food production and nutritional nonsense, Organic Emporium is a corner of sanity

Andrea Burgener

For some reason, “health store” invariably also indicates vegetarian (or vegan) store, even if subliminally. In our minds the two concepts are a logical fit, but it’s nonsense. There is nothing that makes the average lentil, dairy-free coconut “yoghurt”, slice of gluten-free bread or carton of rice milk healthier than a sardine. And seeing as I often find the very same items (in less cool packaging) in my nearest Indian superette or the greengrocer at half the price, I’m rarely a huge fan of such places.
If the “health store” stuff happens to be organic, or at least farmed to natural, organic principles (and often not much of it is), then cool. But the mere fact that something is vegetable or coconut or tofu rather than meat is irrelevant on almost every front.
That’s why Organic Emporium in Bryanston, the brainchild of the infectiously passionate Debbie Logan, is such a joy. It’s not actually called a health shop, but it’s the healthiest food store in town by a country mile. Debbie understands that good food production and a good diet can only come from a holistic paradigm: our diets are connected to the real world, not to what looks best on Instagram. And so this little empire is no hippie-haven of fake tofu “chicken”, and you definitely won’t find the over-processed Beyond Burger on these shelves (there’s an alarming amount of imported processed stuff in many “health” stores).
While Organic Emporium does stock piles of truly seasonal vegetables (including, on my last visit, a pumpkin the size of a toddler), and glorious eggs and cheeses, it also has an incredible range of chicken, beef, lamb and pork charcuterie. All farmed the way it should be.
Debbie Logan has a vast understanding of what good farming – and therefore a good diet – should translate into in a South African environment. She actively supports and has helped to grow many non-commercial farming ventures. The store, website and Debbie’s blog all work to connect eaters to the people who’re growing their food. Her blog in particular is truly inspiring, and rigorously researched.
If you’re looking for food which is ethically, nutritionally and environmentally superior to pretty much anything you’ll find elsewhere in Joburg, all under one roof, then this store is your answer. And yes, I know that the word organic brings out the sceptic or the scoffer in many people, but usually the criticism comes from a place of ignorance.
Sure, organic food is often pricier, but don’t blame organics, blame the global food system which supports crap toxic farming. And yes, the term has been co-opted and rendered dubious by certain brands and products, but again, don’t blame organics, blame the charlatans. In a world of truly appalling food production and nutritional nonsense, Organic Emporium is a corner of sanity.
• Find it in the Bryanston Shopping Centre on William Nicol Drive. 011-514-0950.

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