Why I love Debra’s Natural Gourmet
I have been shopping at Debra’s Natural Gourmet since 1997 when I moved to the area and I have to admit, I am a groupie. I am sometimes in the store two or three times a day and although this may seem excessive, I know for a fact that there are others like me out there. I see them in the store. We love Debra and her store and we have our reasons. Here are mine:
1. There is real food here and there are really excellent products everywhere. I actually feel the same mesmerizing sensation walking around Debra’s store that I used to feel walking through the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY. The store is beautiful, well organized and I love that I can read the labels and actually recognize all of the ingredients.
2. Aside from the realness of the food, there are also real choices at Debra’s. Have you ever checked out the chocolate section? I believe that this has to do with who Debra is. She cultivates an adventurous and leading-edge environment and fills her store with things I have not been able to find or even seen anywhere else. And there is always something new to check out in the store…as well as tried and true staples and favorites.
3. Debra is not afraid to give local producers a chance to showcase their offerings; from local produce to local kombucha. This is the first place I was able to find local kombucha and the store now boasts a Katalyst Kombucha (produced in Western MA) bar.
4. Debra offers flexible seasonal work to farmers; currently three on staff that work during the non-growing season and go back to their fields in the spring. One of these farmers, Ray of Applefield Farm in Stow, supplies much of the produce at the store during the Spring, Summer and Fall. Chad Skinner of Alchemy Farm and Elena Coleman from Brigham Farm also work seasonally at the store.
5. Debra’s has discerning criteria for what she will have in her store and I have seen products disappear from the shelves when it comes to light that they are actually not up to store standards. Two years ago, the Burts Bees lip glosses disappeared and I found out that some of them had ingredients that were felt to possibly be carcinogenic. Even though they were popular, the store was not going to carry them. When the research came out a few years back about how toxic some of the ingredients in sunscreens were, Debra’s looked for the best sunscreen products that had been vetted by the Environmental Working Group, and that is all they carry. I know several people who only get their sunscreen at the store. In these days of GMO run rampant, Debra does her best to sell corn products that are either organic or verified non-GMO. She has been instrumental in helping to educate the community about GMO food.
6. Debra and her son, Adam , who you can generally find in the supplements section, are ahead of the curve on the latest research as well as ages old wisdom. Although they will cater to the latest, such as the Paleo protocol, the store serves vegan, vegetarians and omnivores alike. As the consciousness changes, Debra’s innovates and caters to the new needs of the community. One great example of this is the gluten free baked goods that the kitchen staff has developed. Even the vanilla used in the kitchen is gluten free.
7. The kitchen at Debra’s, is, again, a blend of tried and true, and innovation. They are still serving the two signature soups that Debra introduced in 1989, the split pea soup and red lentil ginger soup. In keeping up with the times, when people became interested in raw cuisine 5 years ago, Debra’s created the raw kale salad, which has become one of the most popular offerings. I found quinoa dishes here before most people had even heard about this amazing grain.
8. Since I have known Debra, she has been very active in the local business community and many of the events we collaborate on began at the store. Remember Pajama Day? Not just Debra’s anymore, the whole street participated in the day this year! The store’s annual birthday party has morphed into Discover West Concord Day. She is an enthusiastic supporter of the shop local movement and I learn so much about how to bring community together form her. This relates to both her relationship with local business and with her suppliers and her clients.
9. Have you seen the signs around the store that feature the staff favorites? Debra loves to carry staff favorites. She considers this to be a democratic exercise. I love that. [From Debra: Maria, I haven’t seen these signs up for awhile – we keep meaning to do this, but time gets away from us!]
Here are two lists of current favorite offerings at the store, one from me and one from Debra herself. Discover your own favorites as well as your reasons to fall in love with this store…
Lilly’s Chocolate sweetened with stevia sweetened. My favorite is the coconut. I also love the Liberty Chocolate sweetened with honey made locally in Carlisle.
Steady Lane Grass Fed Beef from Ashfield, MA. Great beef! We know Janet Clark of Steady Lane farm and have visited her and the cows several times. She used to do yoga at our studio before she moved out west. I love knowing the farmers. Check her out at www.steadylanefarm.com
DeLand Millet Zucchini Bread is my current favorite bread made with Millet flour and veggies.
Coconut Ghee Bar. When I walk into the store while these are being baked, I want to curl up in the kitchen and stay there forever.
Smoked Olive Oil smoked over pine cones. Find it on the olive oil shelf.
Coconut Sugar which has a low glycemic count and delicious caramel overtones. Used in the kitchen, and you can find it in the sweeteners aisle.
Purple potatoes in the produce section.
Leap Organic Line of organic body care products in the beauty section. Founder and creator, Luke, works out of Bradford Street! Check them out at www.leaporganics.com
Matto Macha Sparkling Tea in the front drink section from local producers in Boston. Check them out at www.drinkmotto.com
Debra’s Natural Gourmet
98 Commonwealth Avenue
West Concord, MA 01742