Letter from Publisher
Sprouting a Legacy
My love for natural foods and health food stores started back in Michigan during the 70s, when food co-ops were sometimes the only way to access some of my favorite ingredients.
When I moved to Naples in the early 80s, I was happy to discover Martha’s Health Food store, the only one of its kind at the time. Shortly after my arrival, I noticed a “for lease” sign in Martha’s café area—and before I knew it, I was busy behind the counter serving up healthy salads, sandwiches and juices from our new Rainbow Café menu alongside my sister Kate and our friend Tim.
Growing alfalfa sprouts for our Rainbow Café fare eventually led to a new venture, aptly named Rainbow Sproutery. Over the next seven years, I grew my business from one alfalfa sprout machine to a garage-full that produced hundreds of pounds of alfalfa sprouts weekly, which I distributed to local health food stores and produce companies. I called myself a New Age farmer and was amazed at how much I could produce in such a small space.
That’s part of the reason it was so much fun to help nurture this month’s feature story, “Crops in the City: Urban Agriculture Breaks New Ground.” Writer April Thompson profiles some of the noteworthy pioneers in urban farming—enterprising entrepreneurs that have found their niche on rooftops, in vertical tower gardens and abandoned warehouses in former food deserts, reconnecting urbanites to their food sources while bettering the environment, communities, diets and health. (See page 36)
While at Martha’s Health Food store, I also learned more about the supplements and other health products that I loved sharing information about with store customers. Reading editor Linda Sechrist’s interviews this month on page 40 with several local health food store owners and staff about their journeys and what they love about educating and supporting others to live healthier lives reminded me why I was inspired to start this natural health magazine 25 years ago, now distributed at health food stores and 700 other locations throughout Lee and Collier counties. (See page 40)
I feel lucky today that I have the convenience of living just five minutes from Food & Thought’s organic market; I’m almost a daily customer. Alfie Oakes continues to honor his father (and founder) Frank’s words boldly displayed in the store, “Militarily organic so you can shop in peace,” and much of the produce on the shelves is freshly picked from their own organic farm. It’s great to see that new health food stores are sprouting up in Collier and Lee counties—several in just the past year. They not only provide an important service to our community, they are a testament to its residents’ growing commitment to healthy living.
As we enjoy Independence Day this 4th of July, let’s remember we are still fighting for our freedom in many ways—freedom to make our own decisions about our health choices, freedom to fight for what we believe in: high standards for organics, protection from special interests; and freedom to publish information about the threats to our health and our planet.
Stay informed and stay active, as if our (your) rights depend on it!
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