Local options for healthy eating range from establishments that are generations strong, to a few that are less than a couple of years old. But, when it comes to fresh, locally-sourced foods and a focus on getting the best nutrition from every meal, Greater Flint has what you need.
My City met with a few local natural grocers to learn more about what they do and what they offer the community.
Owner: Drew Wolfe
4290 Miller Rd., Flint
M-TH 10am-7pm; FRI 10am-8pm SAT 10am-6pm
A store that began in Downtown Flint back in the 40s, Dale’s Natural Foods opened at its current location in 1987 and is now owned by the founder’s grandson, who has been a part of the business for 20 years.
“My grandfather, Dale Wolfe, started Dale’s because it was 1947 and everyone was going toward white, refined flours and grains. He grew up on a farm and believed in real food. He was way ahead of his time back then, when vitamin supplements started being introduced,” he explains.
Popular items at Dale’s include nutritional supplements, probiotics, turmeric and other anti-inflammatory spices. They also see a lot of community members who are interested in the Paleo and Keto diets, as well.
Currently located near a gym, Dale’s has customers who stop in for post-workout smoothies and other healthy snack items. The store offers pre-made vegetarian food items, fresh-baked breads from Crust Bakery, fresh-pressed juices and a variety of sandwiches, salads and soups and a hot entrée made daily in the on-site kitchen.
“Our deli is pretty busy at lunchtime. We are the only vegetarian place around here where you can get a good, healthy lunch,” says Wolfe. He adds, “proper nutrition is most important for a healthy life. Supplements are good as an insurance, to make sure you’re getting some of everything you need every day. But, healthy eating is the most important.”
The English Pantry
Owner: Terrie Harris
8241 S. State Rd., Goodrich
Open for about 18 months, The English Pantry is a rather new natural food source. The shop specializes in bulk dry goods and specialty items, non-GMO, organic and standard dry goods, high quality chocolate, spices, rice, loose leaf teas, dried fruits, pasta and other goodies.
The owner, Terrie Harris, opened The English Pantry, “to supply the community with healthier options, lessen our environmental waste, and save money when possible while not compromising quality,” she explains. Since all items are sold in bulk, it eliminates the need for excess packaging, and is reminiscent of the bulk stores that existed long before the change to processed foods and grocery store chains.
Harris says she has recently seen the public gain more interest in vegan, organic and non-GMO foods. She stresses that the most important way to stay healthy is by “finding reliable sources and knowing not only what is in the product, but what processes the product went through before reaching the shelf where you shop.”
The Grainery Organic Grocery
Owners: Susan & Michael Beattie
809 Church St., Flint
Michael and Susan Beattie opened their Downtown Flint shop in 1980 because they wanted to eat organic foods and, according to the owners, there was no one selling it north of the Detroit area. Susan, who has suffered with asthma from birth, says that it worsened as she got older and the medications became less effective over time and caused negative side effects, as well. Nearly dying from her asthma, she says she prayed for healing and looked for solutions.
In their search, the Beatties bought a book called Sugar Blues and after reading it, stopped eating refined sugar products. Almost immediately, their whole family started feeling better. Since then, it has been over 40 years of studying and practicing a natural and organic lifestyle.
That experience motivated them to teach others about how diet and lifestyle make a huge difference in one’s health and quality of life. Susan taught cooking and nutrition classes before the couple opened their shop.
A full-line organic food store, The Grainery offers a full menu of organic sandwiches, soups, salads, tortilla pizzas and more, as well as prepared foods, organic/whole food supplements and herbs, all-natural cleaning products and health and beauty products. In 1992, they began bottling filtered, alkaline water in reusable glass jugs. “People come from a distance to get this water, since it is such an important part of a healthy diet! The quality and quantity of water a person consumes plays a vital role in one’s health!” Susan emphasizes, “We don’t follow fad diets; we practice and teach people that through proper cleansing, nourishment and eating appropriately for your personal body type, health can be restored and also maintained.”
The Local Grocer
Owners: Erin Caudell, Franklin Pleasant
601 Martin Luther King Ave. & Flint Farmers’ Market
SAT & SUN 11am-6pm
TUES/THUR/SAT Farmers’ Mkt.
The Local Grocer opened inside the old Flint Farmers’ Market facility in 2013 and is now located in the new Market. In December 2015, a second, stand-alone location opened at the corner of University and King Avenues, near Soggy Bottom Bar and The Durant.
The owners have been advocates for a healthy, local food system for the residents of the Flint community. Recognizing the value of locally-produced food, and with so few chain grocery stores in Flint, they saw a need and an opportunity to become a place for fresh, healthy produce.
The Local Grocer’s most popular items are the vegetables they grow on their Beecher farm, Flint Ingredient Company. “Our veggies are grown without chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers,” the owners explain. Lately, their wide variety of probiotic
beverages have become quite popular, and they are a source for grocery items and meals for people eating vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets. In the kitchen, they prepare from scratch a wide variety of healthy, natural meals and baked goods sold in their “Grab & Go” section.
“We know that food is what gives our bodies the energy to fight diseases and heal our maladies.” A great step toward getting and remaining healthy, according to The Local Grocer, “is simply being conscious of harmful ingredients contained in many processed foods and beverages and working to eliminate them. We do our best to screen our products and ensure we offer the very best to our community.”
The owners add, “We are extremely grateful to our friends and customers who support us and all of Flint’s small, locally-owned businesses. Those dollars are reinvested many times and have a direct impact on the strength and vitality of the place we call home.”
Photography by Jennifer Hodney