Firstly a little history lesson. Like many people in Birmingham, and if you were vegetarian or vegan, The One Earth shop may well have been the only place you could buy things you could actually eat. I started visiting about 10-12 years ago when the soya milk still tasted like wee and it was very difficult to eat a variety of different food if you were a vegetarian let alone a vegan. The shop always had a homely and cosy feel and you usually were able to buy interesting and obscure products that you couldn’t but in the supermarkets. The sign was a hand painted one which lasted the test of time over many years and was even kept when the shop changed hands and was renamed 100% Vegan.
But it’s 2015 now and all things must come to an end, or modernised and that is exactly what Simon and Susan have done with their new venture Natural Healthy Food. The old sign is gone and the new sign is very authentic and you don’t need to walk in to know that all our needs are catered for. It reads “Dairy Free, Raw, Organic, Vegan, Gluten Free.” We are covered friends of Birmingham.
Having spoken to Susan only online, this was the first time meeting her and Simon but felt like I had known this pair forever. Susan was very enthusiastic about products on offer and gave me a tour of the new shop. Knowing about my wheat problems, she was quick to point out what I was allowed to have and there was an absolute wealth of it. She was kind enough to send me some pictures before so I had high hopes! Check out the pictures of the wheat free on Facebook and what I brought today on my Instagram..
Speaking to Susan, I discovered she had the same attitude to things like sugar as me and was lovely and refreshing to speak to someone very honesty about products on offer. They are very proud of only selling things they like and are of a high quality, as we all know there are still quite a lot of bad vegan items out there especially in the cheese world!
The other owner Simon, I found to be a very interesting, passionate and knowledgeable chap. We discussed Zinc, b12 and cooking Tempeh for ages! He is qualified in Naturopathic Nutrition and is very keen to use his experience and knowledge to help people in their nutritional journey. His fundamental view is to use the shop “to inspire people to cook good and quick meals using nutritious ingredients” and “to eat well on a plant based diet.” I certainly saw that in abundance with uncommon products like Fava beans that you may never have heard of, but are busting with goodness. Simon was great because when I picked up something I didn’t know how to use, he was instantly able to tell me a recipe and how to cook it! Natural Healthy Food now stock high quality supplements and protein powders which is useful when you are on vegan diet.
I was very struck by the sugars shelf in the shop. There of course was sugar as we know it in brown Demerara sugar, but also things like Coconut palm sugar and nectar which has a much lower glycaemic index rating that refined sugar. Choice is a wonderful thing and something we can forget about when we have intolerances and that was found on every shelf in the shop. Of course you have all the usual suspects like Quinoa, green tea and Chickpeas, but what about Black Rice, Matcha and Beluga Lentils?
I was very excited to hear about plans for events, support local producers and utilising the space for interesting things in the future, but I will let them reveal that to you!