The introduction of “Mito-friendly” labelling on shop shelves, coupled with an on-site functional medicine therapy space, offering the opportunity to “Shop with Doc”, are just two of the new experiences that Hermanus shoppers can expect when OK Foods opens at Gateway Lifestyle Centre.
The launch of OK Foods on 25 April 2019 forms part of the overall “Homemade, Handmade, Hands-On” strategy that Gateway announced last year in a bid to individualise itself and to support small and medium-sized businesses and start-ups in the region.
Organic fruit and vegetable produce from Pure Farm in Bot River, take-away coffee and Hermanus-roasted coffee beans from Tulip Coffee Roasting, The Beanery and Eden Café, and cheeses from Klein Rivier and Stonehouse are just some of the “homemade” brands that shoppers will be able to enjoy.
Take-away sushi, a full bakery, and a modern butchery that will offer one of the largest selections of biltong in town, will add to the “handmade” selection of products on the shelves.
But it is the opening of The Green Room next door, in Green Ways health shop, which integrates the grocery shopping experience with functional medicine, that will excite customers with its radical “hands-on” departure from the way that supermarkets traditionally operate.
Managed by Dr Julienne Fenwick, a qualified medical doctor from Stellenbosch University, The Green Room will provide a space for alternative healthcare practitioners to network and help patients in the area. It will also host complementary therapists such as a reflexologist, psychologist and acupuncturist.
One of the services Julienne will also be offering is “Shop with Doc”, a grocery tour through OK Foods that will help customers to join the dots between the food they eat and their health.
“Shop with Doc is an opportunity for customers and patients to learn what healthy products are available and how to use them in daily food preparation. I’ll also discuss general nutrition, lifestyle questions and various diets to help avoid confusion,” says Julienne.
Julienne has a special interest in functional medicine and believes that one needs to have an integrative approach to health that combines the best of western medicine, where necessary, with teaching patients to optimise their health naturally, where possible.
“Functional medicine,” she says, “is a holistic approach committed to forming a therapeutic partnership with the patient, finding the cause of ‘disease’, and helping patients to heal chronic ailments by changing their lifestyle in a sustainable fashion.”
This is where OK Foods’ “Mito-friendly” strategy comes in. Mito, the shortened form of mitochondria, are the body’s powerhouse. They make most of the cells’ supply of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that cells use as a source of energy. Research has shown that certain nutrients and enzymes play a huge role in how the mitochondria function.
Simply put, as the saying goes, “You are what you eat”. If your mitochondria are not working properly, your cells won’t have the energy to do their jobs. This can lead to getting sick.
“I am happy to be a Functional Health Consultant at the new OK Foods. The team is dedicated to giving customers a healthy option for most common food items, starting with a small selection of organic veggies supplied by local farmers, which they hope to expand as people start demanding healthy whole-food products,” says Julienne.
Initially, sticker dots added to be stuck on the shelf labels to indicate which products are “Mito-friendly”, but these will be replaced with coloured shelf labels to clearly differentiate them from the white-coloured labels that supermarkets normally use.
“The quality of customer service and a growing focus on healthier foods will distinguish us from the competition,” says franchise owner representative, Seth Anderson, who also points out that this is only the second OK Foods to be launched in South Africa in the new high-quality, A-specification format. The first was in upmarket Zimbali on the KwaZulu-Natal coast.
Last year, Gateway also announced a plan, as part of its overall strategy, to install the largest commercial solar system in the Overberg to generate a portion of the power required by Gateway. The initial 40kW system, comprising 121 photovoltaic (PV) panels, has been installed on the roof of the new receiving area for OK Foods.
According to Seth, the panels are working very well but it is too early to say how much of OK Foods’ total power needs will be supplied by solar energy until the store settles into a normal daily rhythm.
OK Foods will be open daily from 07:00 to 20:00 364 days of the year. The Green Room will be open from 1 May 2019.