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Vegetarian Journal Cover

Vegetarian Journal


September/October 1996
Volume XV, Number 5

Note from the Coordinators

Support Natural Foods

Debra Wasserman
Charles Stahler
An activist whom we respect was complaining that fast food places don't have vegetarian options. Though Taco Bell restaurants are plentiful in his neighborhood, bean burritos and tacos were not good enough. We mentioned that Subway now has approved veggie burgers for their stores. "They won't toast their bread, so I won't eat it," he responded. To be blunt, unless we support the healthy options at restaurants, supermarkets, and fast food places, the variety will disappear from the shelves. If Burger King and McDonald's see Subway, TGIF, and Denny's taking away substantial market share because they are now offering vegetarian burgers, they will also add them to their menus. Don't blame the fast food chains. Options are now available, and your responsibility is to support them if you believe in eating at food chains and really want them to offer vegetarian meals.

We are very pleased that Fresh Fields, a supermarket-size gourmet health food store, has opened near our office. We have already seen the positive effect it will have in exposing a mainstream audience to vegetarian foods, as well as giving natural food manufacturers a wider market. A side benefit is that in order to compete, our local supermarket chain has added a health food section and is now selling organic produce. The week before Fresh Fields opened, the supermarket offered organic broccoli at a cheaper price than their non-organic broccoli and mailed out a special flyer promoting their organic and natural foods.

This same supermarket chain learned their lesson when Fresh Fields opened near them in Washington, DC. From what members tell us, the organic/natural foods selection in stores run by this chain is not as good or is non-existent when stores are not located near Fresh Fields. This can be for two reasons: 1) lack of competition and 2) gourmet food stores tend to open in higher income areas. It is possible that there is not yet enough demand for these products in the other areas that the supermarket serves, which leads us to two other issues.

An important goal of The Vegetarian Resource Group is to reach beyond those people most likely to shop in gourmet stores. For example, we hope you will support our Meals on Wheels project and production of Spanish-language materials. If you are educating low-income Caucasians, Afro-Americans, Asians, or others about healthy diets, let us know about your program so we can share the ideas with readers.

The other issue related to the rise of large health food stores is the demise of small shops. It is sad that those owners of small health food stores (and food companies) will be put out of business. (Even Fresh Fields was just bought out.) Before others could make enough money to justify their time and investment, the small business owners risked starting a store to supply an important need. And what about the gourmet stores selling items like ostrich meat? (See pages 12-13 for more on these issues.)

Debra Wasserman & Charles Stahler
Coordinators of The Vegetarian Resource Group

This article originally appeared in the September/October 1996 issue of the Vegetarian Journal. We encourage you to subscribe to the magazine.

Thanks to volunteer Jeanie Freeman for converting this article to HTML

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September 20, 1997

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