For some reason, health store invariably also indicates vegetarian (or increasingly vegan) store, even if subliminally. In our minds the two concepts are an entirely logical fit, but it’s nonsensical of course. 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 brain-child 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. What Debbie understands is that good food production and a good diet, can only come from a holistic paradigm. Our diets are connected to the real world, and 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 they should be.
Organic food is often pricier, but don’t blame organics, blame the global food system which supports crap toxic farming
Debbie Logan has a gobsmackingly vast and in-depth 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 the city, all under one roof, then this store is your answer. And yes, I know that the term 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.