Real Food Builds Their Own Dream Grocery with Local, Organic, Sustainable ProductsAugust 23, 2017
Nicole Fandiño was tired of never being able to do groceries with ease, always having to wait for the weekend markets to roll around in order to pick up organic chicken, or coordinate with a supplier for organic eggs. She tells us that it would even get in the way of weekend family trips, where they would have to delay departure until after the Saturday market, until finally, she decided to open her dream grocery herself. “We always joke that it was for selfish reasons,” she tells us, when asked about what inspired her to open Real Food with her partners Katrina Mañosa, Honey Almendral and Bea Lhuillier. “I couldn’t believe at the time—it was 2014—when so many people were making the effort to know where their food came from, how come there wasn’t a place where you could get it everyday? So it just seemed logical. I just never thought I would get into something like this… but nobody else was.”
The products are mostly local and a lot of them are organic (though they tell us that it is difficult for small companies to get certified), produced by people who are health-conscious just like the partners of Real Food. Many of the brands at Real Food are run by micro-enterprises, and a number of them support a social cause or are run by co-ops. “We know all our suppliers,” says Fandiño, so there is a high level of trust and even first-hand understanding with how everything is produced. “We meet all our suppliers, we visit the farms, we even bring our staff when we can. Instead of a Christmas party, we took all our staff to a farm in Pangasinan and we spent the day there learning about organic farming and what makes organic produce special.”
We don’t like artificial preservatives, MSG, things like that. We have very few products in the store that use refined sugar. Most of the products that would use sugar use a [healthier] substitute.”
Fandiño tells us that the goal of Real Food is to function like a grocery, where one could visit and pick up all the food they need to feed their family. “We might not have everything on your grocery list on the day that you come, but there’s always something else [you can get],” she explains. “Here you can get all your grains: rice, adlai, [bread] . . . you can get your berries, juices, chicken, pork, beef, fish, veggies, fruits, we even have alcohol. We have ice cream, snacks, chips, sweets. We carry powders [that] a lot of customers [mix into their] smoothies and juices.”
But the ‘healthy-food-averse’ should not immediately write Real Food off as a destination for health nuts. “There’s no point in offering these things if [people] are just going to run away, right?” Fandiño laughs. Many of the snacks and food are delicious in their own right, and some would not be considered outright healthy but simply offer a healthier alternative to the supermarket-norm—food like homemade gummies from Honest Junk, local bean-to-bar chocolates by Risa Chocolate, or organic chicken nuggets by the Farmery.
“We’re 4 moms that are partners,” Fandiño explains. ” . . . [and] when you bring your little kids to the grocery, it’s like a battle, because they see all these [junk food and candies on the shelves], and those things are okay once in a while but not all the time. I would dream of a place where you could bring your kids and say, ‘Sure, anything you want!'” That is something that they proudly have been able to achieve with Real Food.
Real Food is a specialty grocery that focuses on healthy, local food products.