Shopping Local & Healthy in Paradise
July 10, 2017 by Manny Chavez
The term “just another beautiful day in paradise” is heard often here in SoWal.
But you’ll have to go indoors on a visit to For the Health of It to fully appreciate the healthy, local experience. Owner Ed Berry’s goal from the beginning (22 years ago) has been to provide foods and products for a healthy community. His legion of local fans who visit his store regularly are a testament to success.
Located “on the hill” in Blue Mountain Beach, For the Health of It provides the largest selection of organic foods in the South Walton area.
“My approach to healthy living starts with proper nutrition,” says Ed. “Eating clean foods, little or no refined sugars, just simple clean foods. If a product has more than five to seven ingredients in it, I won’t eat it.”
Ed has not purchased food in any other grocery for the past 22 years. Owning an organic food store, he has had access to solid, organic, fresh produce and foods and he makes these foods available to his customers. Simple nutrition to the max.
Ed’s middle name should be “local.” He sources his products from local farmers, bee keepers, bakers, soap makers...you name it, all locals helping to further his healthy community commitment.
Some of his organic providers include Joe Aplin Farms (a four-generation farming family), Dragonfly Farms Nursery, The Greenman’s Garden, Nature’s Hand Cattle Company (grass-fed beef), Raw & Juicy, The Soap Peddler, Caveman’s Cupboard Nut Butter, Honey Hutch Tupelo Honey, Veronica’s Health Crunch, and La Loba’s Bakery. Several local restaurants including Chiringo in Grayton Beach and Basmati’s in Blue Mountain Beach purchase fresh produce from For the Health of it.
For the Health of It fresh produce does not sit on the shelves for long. Store Grocery Manager Rich Pascalli makes sure of it. He has fresh orders coming in four times a week and, according to Ed, is the consummate pro…having worked as an executive chef in several restaurants, Rich is in a unique position to help customers in the store.
“He talks with them and shows them how to prepare their foods by mixing and matching our organic selections for healthy, creative dishes,” explains Ed.
Roaming the isles of For the Health of it is a sensorial feast with colorful organic food and vegetable displays giving way to friendly, informative staffers. They routinely earn continuing education credits and attend organic industry seminars to have the knowledge to back up what they are selling.
Not to be outdone in the food department, General Manager Dee Abshure makes sure your food toppings are complete with her “Arkansalsa” salsa (would you believe she’s from Arkansas)? Take some home with you on your next visit, you’ll be glad you did! When she’s not talking salsa, Dee will be happy to discuss nutritional supplements with you. She’s an expert and will steer you down the most beneficial path.
In addition to their organic foods, For the Health of it offers fresh juices, smoothies, a wide variety of vitamins and supplements, minerals, herbs, homeopathic remedies, and certified, therapeutic messages. Folks with food allergies will be happy to find all kinds of “free” stuff…gluten-free, dairy -free, sugar-free, soy-free, nut-free, all available along with macrobiotic and Paleo foods.
While SoWal has an avalanche of tourists each season, Ed is quick to thank all his local customers.
“Our locals have literally kept us in business,” says Ed. “In our 22 years of doing business here, we’ve seen a tremendous change in shopping patterns. The 'mom and pop' shops in this county and in this country are quickly disappearing and for For the Health Of It to still be going strong, we need to thank our locals.”
For the Health of it offers a VIP program. Costing $50/year, the program offers 10% off everything in the store including Massage and Juice Bar and a discount at SoWal Crossfit/NWFL Fitness.
To date, there haven’t been any babies born in the store, but Ed knows several families whose children came in twenty-something years ago with “babies on hips” who are now having their own “babies on hips” thus completing the circle of healthy living and organic life styles.
SoWal insider Tip - be sure to sample the amazing juice & smoothie bar!
With the acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon, Ed is keenly aware of the changing dynamics of the grocery business.
“With the ability of sitting at a computer and buying food and having it delivered, it takes away from the local community," says Ed. "For the Health of it has always taken pride in being a sponsor of so many different youth activities, school functions, art programs…and when people sit at a computer, push a button and have it shipped, whether it’s organic groceries or a lamp, they need to realize the consequence of taking money out of a community that then doesn’t get circulated back in to the heart of the community. I’ve seen it in our own sponsorships. As we have lost some of the aspects of our grocery business, we’ve had to curtail some of our donations because the funds just aren’t there. So, I am a BIG supporter of shopping local, supporting small, local business and helping support a local community.”
As a longtime surfer, Ed has ridden many a local wave and he is dedicated to surfing the organic lifestyle fostered by For the Health of it. It’s tough to push away from the computer, so easy to shop that way, but talking with Ed for a short while does make “Shopping Local” something to at least think about. For more information, call 850-267-0558. Location: 2217 W. County Hwy. 30A in Blue Mountain Beach, across from Marie’s Bistro and next to Big Daddy’s Bike Shop. Open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m . - www.shopforthehealthofit.com.