Monday 7th June, 2010

Rare food from organic shop

Image courtesy Leila Abu-Saada

In a city where fish and chips and meat pies reign supreme, a rare oasis of healthy living has sprouted in Islington in the midst of beer taverns and greasy kebab eateries.

Islington’s Planet Organic, Britain’s largest fully certified organic supermarket, opened its doors in October 2008. The small grocery store boasts a wide variety of organic options from canned food and grain to fresh fruit and vegetables. The specialty store provides difficult-to-find items such as coconut water, agave nectar and quinoa—a South American grain.

 “It is quite a specialist shop. There are items for only vegetarians, vegans and gluten free. We try and cater to everyone’s needs and we have a lot of variety,” says Anthony Regnault, store manager of Planet Organic on Essex Road.

The small chain was founded in 1995 when the organic food trend was just sprouting roots in the UK and has since expanded—the Islington shop is the grocer’s fourth in London. Regnault believes the organic trend has become increasingly popular since Planet Organic’s inception: “Organic food is still a niche in the market and has consistently increased in the UK.”

The store reaches far beyond organic food, offering people a chance to create an organic lifestyle. Planet Organic has a plethora of all-natural face and body products, including natural skincare lines such as REN and Jurlique to mundane items such as toothpaste and deodorant.

The store’s philosophy is to promote sustainable and eco-friendly products; when possible, Planet Organic purchases foods from UK farmers. “The produce is all organic and comes from a company in Covent Garden called Language, which uses all British goods. When possible, we use all local fare such as British asparagus,” says Regnault.

Organic is usually synonymous with high prices, but Regnault says many of their items are cheaper than their counterparts from big-name grocers such as Sainsbury’s: “Prices are comparable to other grocery stores but certain things are often cheaper, such as rice and milk.”

London’s organic grocers are few and far between, and Planet Organic provides a personalised shopping experience that gives health-conscious individuals access to the rare food items they crave.

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