In August 2018, Julie French interviewed Joumana, owner of Natural Food Market in Montmorency.
On the cold and rainy day that I visit Natural Food Market in Montmorency, I’m welcomed by a delicious and tempting smell coming from the large pot of veggie and lentil soup. There’s an even warmer welcome from owner, Joumana, and her retail manager, James.
In the centre of the shop, a display of fresh, seasonal, organically certified produce entices. Ranged along one wall is a double row of dispensers holding a comprehensive variety of dried goods: pulses, wholegrains, seeds, nuts and dried fruits. Along the opposite wall, sit packaged goods such as various flours, teas & coffees, spreads & condiments and other items. There are also refrigerated cabinets full of dairy, tofu, meats & drinks (such as kombucha), shelves of both gluten and gluten free breads and much more. It’s an inviting atmosphere for a fresh food lover.
Joumana has a naturally friendly manner. She took over the shop (formerly Edes and Bibi) in February and is gradually changing its focus, to align with her philosophy and passion around healthy food. She is a qualified Nutritional Medicine Practitioner and also offers a consulting service from the shop. In May she graduated as a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutritional Medicine, and is keen to assist people how to have a healthy lifestyle through better food choices.
I was intrigued by the term Nutritional Medicine. Joumana describes it as a form of functional medicine that complements mainstream medicine and is based on the principles of Naturopathy. Some of these principles include: do no harm; treat the whole patient; and use food as medicine for prevention and treatment of the cause. In her practice, and through Natural Food Market, she wants to educate people about their health by showing them how to choose food, and ways to prepare it well. As well as offering full consultations, Joumana will be happy to offer advice at no charge.
Her business name reflects Joumana’s intention to offer healthy foods, with a focus on whole foods. Produce will be sourced as locally as possible, with a focus on seasonality and freshness. She will stock both organically certified produce, as well as produce that has not been certified.
Joumana believes that a lot of smaller producers do not apply for organic certification because of the cost and complication of gaining it, but that’s not to say their produce should be avoided. As far as she’s concerned, if the produce ticks all the boxes (no preservatives, no added sugar, no numbers, is ethically produced and states where it is grown or produced), she will be happy to stock it. At the moment, Joumana is running down her stocks of ‘certified organic’ produce from countries such as China, because of the lack of integrity in their certification systems.
I asked Joumana what led her to starting her business. She explained that it has been part of her own journey of using food to heal herself. In her former practice as a beauty therapist, she had started a weight loss challenge group, and in the process started to learn more and more about food as medicine and the value of taking a holistic approach to healing. This led her to her university studies. While looking for a place to establish her practice, she found a business for sale in Were Street and was attracted by the room at the back, which was ideal for her consulting space.
While studying, Joumana spent a lot of time at CERES and would like to create a similar energy and vibe in her Monty shop. She wants to provide an inviting place where people can come to do their food shopping and feel comfortable to ask about food and how to prepare it.
There are lots of plans for the future. Joumana will be adding a dispensary of practitioner only supplements, and advice on how to include them in a healthy diet. She also plans to offer bulk local honey and a range of prepared foods to take home. Along with the daily pot of delicious nutritious soup for take away, she’s also making her own tasty health slices. Coming soon will also be Joumana’s own fresh dips, salads, snack boxes for kids and smoothies in summer. They won’t be ordinary smoothies though. In line with her food as medicine, they will include an anti-inflammatory smoothie and a green digestive smoothie.
Another plan is to phase out plastic wrapping: not only is plastic bad for the environment, it’s bad for our health. There are no plastic bags in the shop and customers are encouraged to bring their own containers. Joumana is one of the Monty traders who has a boomerang bags dispenser for those who’ve forgotten to bring their own.
Joumana enjoys interacting with her customers and is loving the strong sense of community in Montmorency of which she now feels a part. I enjoyed interviewing her.