Good Food Emporium
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I can't contain my enthusiasm for the , a community grocer, cafe and lifestyle store I recently visited. There are other things I could contain here, like honey, flour and rice in glass jars or brown bags so I could eat more affordably whilst reducing packaging. But the Naked Food section is simply the start of what this amazing emporium offers. If we all shopped here regularly, we'd be healthier, more attractive (I kid you not), have answers to our children's health concerns and even cook better with the fantastic ingredients on offer.We'd also be supporting Australian producers and not trampling Mother Nature with our shopping trolleys as we shopped. Yes, I'm buzzing like a bee about , but I think you'll be equally ecstatic once you visit. Here's what you need to know.
Location and Size
Christine dos Anjos, a naturopath and nutritionist founded the six months before lockdown. Which is why you may not have heard of it yet. The is in Narre Warren, but before you say "not in my area", I live in the Eastern suburbs and as I loved it so much I'll be back to stock up. Reaching the Emporium is as simple as taking the M1, using Exit 22, and then you are 2 minutes away. For locals, The is part of the Casey Lifestyle Centre opposite Fountain Gate or a 21-minute drive if you happen to be shopping in Chadstone.
The physical address may be busy Princes Highway, but the Emporium is set back – so there's plenty of parking. The name Emporium is fitting as the premises are a similar size to the large Baby Bunting and JB Hi-Fi in the same complex. While there's plenty of space, the premises remain homely and approachable because of the many sections. Accustomed to the tight squeeze of health food stores such as Northcote's Terra Madre or Balwyn's Apple and Sage, the spacious layout and delicious products at the made me feel like Alice stepping into Wonderland.
Because I shop in a number of health food shops, I'm aware that many of the prices at the are moderate or even low in comparison.Yes, organic fruit and vegetables generally cost more. But there are regular specials. On my visit, there was organic pumpkin at $1.99 per kilo.
Unlike in supermarkets, you won't find $1 Oreos or Mars Bars at the end of the aisles sabotaging your best health intentions. But as Christine remarked, "You can end up paying a lot more than a dollar when it comes to your future health bills."
The Incredible Stock
Expect a vast range of healthy food options in a sizeable supermarket-sized space—all nutritious, real food and free of artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. As well as the Naked Food section mentioned, the aisles are brimming with artisan, gourmet and specialised health foods.
Instead of being bored by the usual supermarket brands, you'll find fabulous products, many are from small local businesses. Browse the shelves for great quality bread, organic fresh nut butters and the fridge section for delectable yoghurts, cheeses, and nitrate-free small goods. The cleaning products aisle focuses on the Eco home with green and ethical products for the laundry, cleaning, and your pets.
Don't miss all the fabulous fresh produce in the coolroom, the bounty of organic fruit and vegetables. Fresh from the market on Mondays and Thursdays.
The Emporium caters for all types of dietary requirements, whether it be FODMAP, GF, Paleo, Vegan, Keto, or simply products free from wheat, nut, soy, sugar or dairy. As I have a grandson with a life-threatening allergy to peanuts, I know how important it is for parents to know they have somewhere to source safe foods.
Tip: Call the store to book a tour to meet your needs. For example, you could do a tour covering FODMAP choices or whatever your diet preference is.
It's easy to support local Aussie brands here. Christine says, "We are on the cusp of the Mornington Peninsula and Gippsland, so we seek out local providers and small makers. Many of our goods come from local small businesses. Where it can't be local, we source Australian products." Local producers come in and hand out samples so you can try before you buy. To keep abreast of in-store tastings, follow the Facebook Page.
The Kids Will Be Alright
As a parent and now grandparent, I was impressed with the range of items for children. Wandering the aisles, I noticed items such as lavender massage oil, baby balms, eco-disposable nappies, kids' natural tubes of toothpaste, natural tooth wipes and teas and tonics to help women with low milk supply.
Christine has two grown-up children but has remained in tune with what parents of littlies need. So whether it be nappy rash, teething, or sore throats The offers natural products to help.
There is also a good range of children's books and non-toxic educational toys, such as flower presses and puzzles focusing on Australian animals. As Christin explained; "These types of presents last and don't end up on the side of the road for hard rubbish collection. Instead they get handed down to the next generation."
So Much Beauty
As in a department store, there is a dedicated make up section and beauty station. The skincare range and makeup brands are natural eco-botanical beauty products free from nasties.I spoke to Kirsty, the beauty therapist. Like many young women working here, she is a walking advertisement for natural beauty.
She walked me through the range, such as Kora Organics, to nourish and rejuvenate the skin, Weleda, which has stood the test of time as the company was founded in 1921 by the Austrian philosopher and natural scientist Rudolf Steiner.
Other brands include Eye of Horus makeup from Byron Bay, la Mav skincare, QLean Luxe, INIKA and Edible Beauty.
Tip: Book an hour-and-a-half makeup session next time you have a special event. Or when you simply wish to revamp your skincare and make-up routine to use more natural products. The $95 fee is redeemable against any beauty products purchased. Inner Health
"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food," said Hippocrates, the father of medicine, acknowledging the importance of healthy eating and how the nutrients in various foods have healing properties.Christine explained that while there are plenty of vitamins and supplements in the store, staff are trained to point you to food when you mention any issues you might have. So just ask!There is also a large range of herbal teas, many of them offering medicinal benefits.
There is, however, a dedicated Inner Health section where I met Isobel, the resident naturopath. Another young woman whose inner beauty shines through. She was incredibly helpful in suggesting a superior calcium supplement with Vitamin D and Vitamin K, as I have problems with bone health, and calcium is directly influenced by the amounts of Vitamin K in the body.
Again, all you have to do here is ask and help is at hand.
As well as the weekly food shop, this is an excellent place to buy gifts for friends, family or for yourself. There are eco-friendly homewares, books, woven baskets, jewellery. a large range of natural scents and essential oils and handcrafted everlasting dried floral arrangements –bouquets that keep on giving.
For the home there are plants, ceramic pots and even organic seeds for the garden.A mystical section houses treasures from the mineral kingdom, highlighting our connectedness with Mother Earth with a wide range of crystals, books, incense, smudge sticks and bowls, incense holders and charcoal discs.
While I know people who are fascinated by all things mystical, I wouldn't know what to buy them for presents. Thankfully the staff here can curate themed hampers from the store's collection of beautiful products. You can request all kinds of hampers such as mother-to-be, vegans or Australiana gifts and souvenirs to take to overseas relatives.
One of the sections I really enjoyed browsing through was the craft liquor section, which not only had a good section of organic, biodynamic and preservative-free wines but also craft liquors, alcoholic beers, ciders, kombucha, alcohol-free spirits and sugar free mixers.
Catch up Cafe
My barista-made coffee was excellent and the cafe was like a community hub with lots of friends greeting each other. Having read the reviews most people are delighted with the plant-based, vegetarian and vegan food and kid's options. Plus the cafe caters for people with allergies and intolerances. The space is also delightful with high ceilings and trailing plants.Note: Christine's Daughter is a pastry chef so changes afoot include a bakery. The deli is also being extended.
The Place to Bee
At first, I didn't understand the bee references with emails signed off with "peace, love, and honey bees." But after I visited the bumble bee theming made sense. I learned that one of every three bites of food eaten worldwide depends on pollinators, especially bees, for a successful harvest. Yet, despite how critical bees are to the natural environment and human food systems, global bee populations continue to decline.
So yes, bees are incredibly important and instore you will find a wide range of medicinal honey, as well as honey from local apiaries and alongside signs saying "Bee part of our community" And I couldn't agree more. The is the place to bee. Not just to shop but because beeing here makes for a great outing. Every suburb needs a place like this!
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