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Be free Foods Organic Grocery
It is a much-proven truth that necessity is the mother of invention; for the Christophers necessity was also the beginning of an initiative that is making a major positive difference in the lives of hundreds of people in Trinidad and Tobago. Be Free Foods, is a family owned and managed organic grocery and carries over 1200 items. It is a business initiative born out of love, and nurtured daily by a firm philosophy of commitment to helping people manage their food allergies. To say that Be Free Foods is making a difference is perhaps an understatement, because in almost every instance it represents the filling of a void that desperately needed to be filled. While most of us can walk into any supermarket or neighbourhood mini mart and pick up food items without a care in the world as to the intricate nature of their contents, many others cannot.
The Christophers used to fall into that second group - they had to seek out special foods for their son who has been diagnosed with a ‘chemical food allergy’ – that is to say he is allergic to any chemical pesticide or additive used to produce food from the stage of growing it to the stage of processing and packaging it. In the midst of their efforts to provide the foods their son needs to survive, they were awakened to the lack of a full range of standard food items, which were organically grown and processed, on the local market. After a challenging process of acquiring the products for their son, the Christophers were inspired to share their solution with others locally through an organic grocery store.
The foods in the store are all bona fide organic and the Christophers reveal that they are indebted to Whole Food Market , a trusted name in organic products, in Baltimore, USA for its guidance in pointing them in the right direction and helping them get established with the right products. The food items at Be Free Foods, in addition to being grown and processed free of synthetic food chemicals and additives, are also produced to meet the needs of persons who have dietary allergies to foods such as eggs, dairy, sea foods, nuts, gluten, sugar, wheat and cereals such as oats, just to name a few.
“People come in from around the country –from San Fernando, and Tobago, and we have a client from Mayaro who we deal with via telephone. All these people express joy and relief at discovering and finding us,” said Allan Christopher. “We get people who have been living with allergies for years – they have allergic reactions to everyday items such as sugar, flour, or eggs, or nuts, and some people have multiple allergies – and I often ask them ‘well what do you eat?’ and I often wonder ‘how on earth could somebody survive for so many years without having access to basic foods such as bread, pasta, rice, oil, peas, that will not trigger a serious and sometimes life-threatening allergic reaction if they eat it’?
“I think sometimes people just eat the regular food items, if it isn’t life threatening, and compromise by taking medication to counteract the bad reactions – but what a way to live! So when I hear people talk about what the store is doing to improve their health and wellbeing I am reassured that it was a good decision to open Be Free Foods,” he expressed. But adults are not the only ones who are getting the chance to ‘be free’ to eat certain foods they could not eat before. Among Be Free Foods clients are a total of 35 children, some with significant food allergies. “Some parents of these children came in the store and cried in a mixture of frustration at not being able to find the right foods and relief at finding us and we had to hug them. It’s a truly moving experience,” Christopher revealed.
Also, some of these children have never tasted ice cream or cookies because of a dairy or gluten allergy, or sweets, because of a sugar or citrus-based allergy, but are now able to enjoy these and other everyday, delightful treats – the safe, organic way. “People might find it strange or funny, but my wife has literally cried when she saw children enjoy a sweet or ice cream or a penna kool for the first time. I mean, as parents of a son with food allergies we know firsthand what it is to see other kids having goodies at parties or at an aunt’s or grandmother’s home and your child is not able to share in the joy of that moment. We are glad that now parents have the option to get organic snacks at our store for these kids,” said Christopher.
In addition, some parents of children with autism have sought out organic foods at the store as they explore current medical research that indicates a Gluten/Casein free diet is likely one aspect of the management of autism. “It is a privilege to be making a difference in the lives of these children who otherwise might have found it difficult to get this range of organic foods that could help them live more comfortably and improve their overall health,” Christopher stated.
Cancer patients, diabetics and persons with Celiac disease have all found their way to the store and are reaping the benefits.
However, everyone can benefit from an organic diet, and the Christophers get a number of people who do not have allergies but want to eat certain foods that do not have synthetic chemicals in them. The Christopher family itself adopted the organic food lifestyle four years ago firstly in support of their son, and is now seeing significant improvements in their overall health, including relief of asthma symptoms and acid reflux and some minor nagging allergies. Be Free Foods celebrated its first year in providing this critically needed service to the people of TnT in December 2010, and “by God’s grace”, according to Christopher, will be able to increasingly satisfy the needs of more persons needing the store’s support, in the months and years to come.
The store is located at Santa Maria Plaza (level 2), 13 Mucurapo Road.
Contacts are: Telephone 735-0727 or 620-3246,
or by email [email protected].
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