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Jan 24, 2017 12:11PM

Organic options grow: Two health-food stores to open in QC

By Jonathan Turner
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Gary Krambeck/gkrambeck@qconline.com
Building construction of new Natural Grocers at 53rd Street, just off I-74 in Davenport.
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More health food stores are on their way to the Quad-Cities. The independent Healthy Harvest Urban Farms Market plans to open by the end of February in downtown Rock Island, and Natural Grocers, a nationwide provider of organic and natural groceries, dietary supplements and body care products, plans to open its first Q-C store this summer off 53rd Street and Interstate 74 in Davenport.

The Healthy Harvest Urban Farms Market, which will be at 1616 2nd Ave., will be 5,400-square-feet, including a warehouse and produce cooler, owner Chad Summers says.

It will be a retail extension of the Healthy Harvest Urban Farms & Garden Center, which opened in 2013 in East Moline, and is closed during the winter, he says.

"We wanted to do just like East Moline; we've been hit by all these people who say 'We're so interested (in a year-round store),'" Summers says. "I'm so excited. It's kind of been a godsend, to establish a much larger producer base."

The store will only sell organic, non-GMO, and beverages such as smoothies, and will have a very small cafe — to expand to the sidewalk in warm weather, he says. Healthy Harvest also will work with growers in the region and some local restaurants to carry their goods, Summers adds.

Among the store staff will be a registered dietitian to answer questions and make recommendations for customers, Summers says.

For more information, visit facebook.com/healthyharvesturbanfarms/?fref=ts.

Natural Grocers, a 62-year-old company based in Lakewood, Colo., has 138 locations in 19 states, and the 15,000-square-foot Davenport store will be its fourth in Iowa. Other Iowa stores include Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls and Clive. There are no locations in Illinois.

"Our unique stores can provide Iowans with a resource to educate themselves about nutrition so that they can make healthy choices about the foods they eat and the nutritional supplements they take," says company co-president Kemper Isely.

"Millennials especially are really interested in health. It's our fastest-growing demographic," says Jonathan Clinthorne, Natural Grocers' manager of scientific affairs and nutrition education.

"They're coming into their own, having families. They want to provide their families with the healthiest food options. We see a lot of millennial mothers who want to buy organic baby food or give their kids a fish oil supplement that is safe."

The following are among the company's core principles, according to naturalgrocers.com:

• Free science-based nutrition classes, health coaching, and cooking demos.
• A nutritional health coach in every store.
• No artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives and trans-fats.
• All USDA-certified organic produce.
• Meat products raised without antibiotics, growth promoters or feed using animal by-products.
• Dairy products that come exclusively from confinement-free dairies.
• Eggs that are not only cage-free, but are provided with sufficient space to move — both indoors and outdoors.

Affordability and use of local producers also are company hallmarks, spokeswoman Krystal Covington says.

"We find local products by researching farmers markets, searching online for local companies and visiting neighborhood stores," she says. "Our goal is to have as many local products as we can upon opening."

The best way for vendors to apply for consideration is through naturalgrocers.com/products/vendors.

"We use the terminology 'always affordable,' to make sure the food we provide, supplements and body care products, are as affordable as they can be for being organic and natural products," Covington says.

"We have a lot of recognizable name brands, but we're focused more on the quality of the product," she says. "The very stringent quality standards we have, some brands we don't sell because they don't meet the standards."

Covington says for those who are worried about the cost of organic produce, the biggest way to save money is to buy what is in season. "Organic produce is very affordable when they're in season. That's going to give you healthier food no matter what."

The Davenport store is being built on the site of the old Ruby Tuesday's, which closed in 2012. Natural Grocers will hire 18 employees for the store, Covington says.
Contributor Jonathan Turner is a writer on staff with the Dispatch•Argus•QCOnline.

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