Soul nourishing food, culture and community. Live each day like a holiday.
Published September 6th 2015
An iconic place to shop
Just when I thought things couldn't get better - they have. I've been shopping at Eastfield Natural Foods for nine years and I love it. The shop was established in 1983 and at the time it was one of only ten organic shops in the world. Daniela has recently taken over from Jan and Denis Alexander who over the last thirty years have developed the shop to its current iconic status. Their mission was to provide nourishing organic and biodynamic wholesome food at a time when most things we can now buy were not so easy to find. Daniela has been shopping here for thirteen years and jumped at the opportunity to buy the shop she loves. She believes food, eating, health and serving customers comes from the heart and is passionate about her new endeavour.
Eastfield Natural Foods has great relations with growers especially those in the Yarra Valley and can source produce grown chemically free as well as organic, allowing for a wider price range to suit any customer's budget. Their chemical free apples often match supermarket prices or at times are even cheaper. Like all the produce here, the apples are from the current season's harvest. My kids have their daily apple in their school lunches and their friends will often ask to eat my kids' apple and ditch their own waxed one. Why do they do this? Because apples from Eastfield are crunchier, juicier and fresher. Hands down.
Potatoes range from $2.50 (for Kind Edwards) to $4.95 (for Dutch Cream) per kg. Juicing carrots have a stable price around $1.95 per kg. Many customers press their own juice at home and that's why the fresh wheat grass trays don't last long on the shelf.
Eastfield prices their stock with the customer in mind. Making organic affordable for families means they will absorb as much as they can on price increases. Deliveries arrive everyday and stock goes immediately out onto the shelves. Any surplus stock from previous deliveries goes into their seconds shelves where it is heavily marked down. There's one for fruit and veg, dairy, and bread as well as some placed around the counter. Look out for them.
Bulk buying is encouraged and well serviced, so ask about buying staples and fruit and veg by the box. This means the price per kg drops, often close or below to that of non-organic. You can bring your own containers for purchases, avoiding the plastic bag. Caring for Mother Earth is a top priority here. Bring your own bag for your purchases or have it packed into boxes supplied.
Bananas, pineapples, avocados and paw paws must come from Queensland of course. You know they haven't been sprayed when the odd Green Tree Frog hitches a ride in a banana box to Croydon South. His next stop is Healesville Sanctuary to arrange his homeward bound journey back to the tropics.
Bread prices start at $4.95 with breads from Fruition, Hopefarm, Ancient Grains, Pure Bakers, Alex Wuppertal, HealthyBake, Culina Bakery (who specialise in breads made from Millet, Rice and Spelt), Phillipas, Mountain Breads and wraps as well as many gluten free options. Eastfield Natural Foods is one of the only places to find Judy's Organic dense and nutritious seed breads. There are three types, Multiseed, Fruit, and Seed with Oats. Starting price at $10.95 is money well spent on a real treat. Also take a look at the sprouted grain breads in the Deli section next to the Organic Dates.
In the fridge you'll find products from Barambah Organics, Blue Bay, Meredith Dairy, Mungalli Creek Bio-Dynamic Dairy, Schultz and Demeter Biodynamic. Eggs are from Kangaroo Island, Misty Mountain and Ruby Hills Organic. Starting price per dozen is $6.15.
There are plentiful raw nut desserts, spreads and dips. Great fermented products for your digestive system and Kombucha on tap.
There is an excellent range of organic and biodynamic wines to choose from.
Many customers comment on the abundant selection of fresh produce and range of products. That's not all that keeps me from coming back. For me, Eastfield was a place to go when my five kids were pre schoolers. A time when leaving the house was a major logistical event. The shop was always welcoming. Staff looked me in the eye when they spoke to me, listened to me and helped me get my shopping done despite the five pairs of all too eager hands, the owners of which knew they'd get a babychino once the pram was packed with purchases. My confident children and I were always welcome and still are. Eastfield Natural Foods is a place that fosters connection and a sense of community where people look after each other and feel validated. A shopping experience here will bring sunshine to your eye and a smile to your face as you tackle the task of choosing products for the daily job of managing personal, family and home health.
Just walking into the shop is a pleasure because of the natural smells, tastes and sights for the senses. Make sure you look well around because the shop is packed everywhere with products and produce. Anita, who works here says 'Customers tell me there is a feeling of abundance with the plentiful selection of products - it's a showcase of nature's bounty'. Anita is also an artist and her pictures have been printed on cards which are available to purchase for $5.00.
Just before 9am there is often a small queue waiting for the doors to open. Many grabbing their coffee on the way to work.
An organic regular coffee with organic cows milk costs $3.50, same as one that isn't. Tradies and office workers will take the necessary three steps into the shop to line up for their Jasper coffee and cake, then head off to work. Some take a bit longer and sit at the tables outside. It does cost extra for soy or almond milk.
This stream of people ordering coffee, drinks and cakes doesn't let up all day. I often treat myself to a pot of Feel Good Chai or Latte. To accompany hot drinks, there are cakes from artisan bakeries in and around Melbourne. Magda from Dynamic Foods provides healthy raw options like her Raw Brownies, Zesty Lemon and Lime or Creamy Cacao Orange Cakes. Other raw delights include Mint Cake and Tiramisu alongside classics like Chocolate Mud Cake, Flourless Orange, Lemon Tart, Carrot Cake and Polenta Muffins. In fact, last time I was there I counted three different choices of Carrot Cake. The Almond and Fruit Tart is a must try and my current favourite. Prices for cake slices range from $2.50 to $7.90.
The staff has a passion for food and health and can offer general information to help you decipher and put into action what your natural therapist has suggested or how to implement the latest food trend. In fact two staff members are Naturopaths, one a Dietitian and a Beauty Therapist. This knowledge rich service means yes, you may have to wait your turn when the shop is packed as it often is. I'm lucky, I live close by and can choose the quiet times to shop as people travel from far and wide to do their shopping here hence it can get very busy.
Whatever ingredient you need for preparing meals, you will find it here. Many cuisines are covered including Asian, Indian and Mediterranean. The spice range is enormous. There are also healthy quick food options for the busy person who can't always prepare from scratch. Bliss Energy Balls at $4.45 for a quick snack or guilt free Samosas, Hunza Pies, Quiches and Pizzas (gluten free) all made with a variety of pastries and bases priced between $3.50 to $7.95.
For example, the cosmetics, perfume and personal care section is the largest I have seen in one place. Your skin is the largest organ of your body and one of its functions is to let things in and out. So what you put on it does get in and you want it to be safe. Many leading Australian companies are here like, LaMav, Evohe, Tinderbox, MoKosh, EchoLife Australia, Emma Organics, Australian Organic Biologika, Eye of Horus, Eco Tan and Ere Perez as well as leading international brands like Lavera, Weleda, Inika, Butter and Lavanila Laboratories. The founders of these brands have interesting stories about why they started their companies. Hear stories from Inika and Eco Tan.
Daniela is expanding the range of safe products for babies and young children including creams, nappies and tissues made from a sugar cane blend so look out for that one.
Other big plans are in the pipeline. The cafe space will be improved, product ranges expanded including the deli, fresh meat and fish. A website and Facebook have just been set up and Instagram where you will see 'Veg with Personality' a featured theme showing the variety of the myriad of natural shapes and colours of real fruit and veg. More staff will be hired with the anticipated growth in business.
Eastfield Natural Foods Facebook Page: Veg with Personality