Soul Food Organic – Living for a Better Future

Health and sustainability are conversations the whole world is having at this very moment.

The global Covid-19 pandemic, and the enforced isolation we find ourselves in here in New Zealand, has got us thinking about what we truly need in our lives to exist and to be happy.

Now has also never been a better time to look at our own approach to healthy living and the little changes we can make for long-term sustainability of our Mother Earth.

We talk to Paul O’Hara, owner of Soul Food Organic at Queenstown Central Shopping Centre, to give us a run down on his store philosophy with some tips for small changes we can make for a better future.

Hi Paul – tell us a little about Soul Food Organic?

Soulfood began 20 years ago as a tiny organic store in Wanaka where it quite quickly grew and expanded. It’s always been about people first, and nourishing our well-being, which also naturally is good for the earth. This is where our whole sustainability aspect comes in. Organic food is essentially nothing new to humanity, it’s how we originally farmed before the advent of chemical-based farming just a few decades ago.

While Soulfood is about organics, it has evolved to incorporate other facets of our diet and well-being too, like the move away from gluten-grains, dairy and other foods that many of us have found we do better without.

Our customers each have their own journey with food, and we are here to support that process, so we are always listening to what people are after and where they are at.

Plant based diets – everyone is talking about this, what are you noticing in your customer’s attitudes towards this, are you seeing more Flexitarians? (People looking for balance as opposed to full vegetarian or vegan)

The vegetarian or vegan diet may be right for some, and many others at certain points in their lives, I don’t see it being supportive for everyone, and I also don’t see it being the answer to our global issues, as some are arguing.

The mass growing of grains, soy and other crops is as much an issue as farming animals, and if we all just listened to our bodies we would know what to eat. We’d probably eat less, definitely less refined carbs and processed fats and oils, and would find the right balance for ourselves. For me, that includes good quality meats and fresh organic veggies, oh and I love a good dash of local olive oil on top.

Keeping it simple and fresh is the key in my book.

We live in a world which is abundant in single-use plastics and unnecessary packaging – tell us about how we can play our part when shopping at Soul Food Organic?

Good question. It’s not that difficult is it, I mean, once again, we need only go back a few decades to see how we used to do it before plastics and the rest.

At Soulfood we’ve embraced the move away from packaging with bulk-bins and also some bulk liquids. This is something I am keen to expand. All the goods that we package ourselves are in recyclable paper, we’ve recently moved away from the bags with a window in them. Even though these were compostable, many people don’t do composting, and prefer recyclable. Soulfood Queenstown is a work in progress, so there is a lot to unfold ahead, and further reducing packaging will be part of that.

We are all in captivity at the moment amidst the Covid-19 lockdown – what are some small changes we can make at home?

You could start a compost bin, which of course doesn’t have to be big, and done right it certainly won’t offend the neighbours with smells. The key is layering your scraps with other matter like leaves and twigs.

And of course, with extra time on your hands you can have some fun in the kitchen, make all the things you’d usually buy pre-made yourself from scratch. And at this time of year there are heaps of fruits and veges that you can preserve or make into things that store through the coming months.

We’ll soon be sharing some easy recipes to do with the family so watch out for those on the Queenstown Central social media channels.

Stay safe everyone.

Soul Food Organic is a boutique grocery store, located in The Market at Queenstown Central Shopping Centre stocking fresh, locally grown organic fruit and vegetables, plant-based counter food and shakes, bulk whole foods and ethically and sustainably made grocery items.

Soul Food Organic remains OPEN for your home essentials

Wednesday and Thursday 9am – 4pm

Photography: Marina Mathews