Kristine Garcia, supermom-entrepreneur and organic food lifestyle advocate talks about eating well and staying healthy
Discerning food aficionados and health conscious might think that finding organic produce and recipes is like finding a needle in a haystack. Supermarkets now have sections devoted to fresh organic produce. But one mom & pop shop offers more than just organic produce, the good stuff they sell is picked straight from the farm even.
Kristine Garcia is a supermom from Antipolo who manages both an online shop for organic produce, specially prepared meals, freshly prepared organic juices and cleanse regimens.
Supermom Kristine and her daughter Kate
Her shop is called Emporium Antipolo, and customers will swear that both produce and quality of service is worth the measly P100 to P300 delivery fee for Metro Manila deliveries. For a minimum order of P1000, you get everything organic and delicious according to the shop's pricelist for both produce and prepared meals and juices.
REACH got the chance to interview Mrs Kristine Garcia for her advice on going organic NOW to enjoy better health and to taste the big difference in REAL good food.
One sample order, a delivery box of organic produce from Emporium Antipolo
REACH: Hello Kristine, how did Emporium Antipolo start as a farm shop for organic produce? Do you source from big farms or from specialist growers?
Kristine: Emporium became a farm shop before our 2nd year of operation. We opened on January 2009 as a healthy products store and originally carried healthy brands like Minola, Plantex and Arce Ice Cream. What happened was family friends and acquaintances started dropping off their fresh personal organic harvest at our place, encouraging and challenging me to distribute the goodies. Returning buyers enjoyed our products and new buyers wanted and needed more of the good stuff. We were encouraged to hook up with bigger farm sources as we strengthened ties with our personal suppliers.
Another sample order of a delivery box filled with choice FRESH organic produce
REACH: What inspired you to become an advocate of a health regimen focused on good food and growing your own food organically and living off the land as well as buying organic produce to support farmers committed to organic farming?
Kristine: Somehow it appealed to me: to know more and find out everything about organic produce and touch base with people who engage in green farming and seek out the places where we could get good produce. It was suddenly both a blessed responsibility to help people and keep our work going. The primary reason for our work was to promote organic produce and food. Emporium is such a little homestore but I am very dedicated to keeping it together and making it grow. Farmers inspire me to do good with what I do, and just being friends with them alone is fulfilling.
What Supermom Kristine and family eat daily is just the same Good Stuff their customers order
REACH: Aside from organic produce, Emporium Antipolo is also a specialist kitchen for organic recipes and good food using organic ingredients. Making good food from organic ingredients has brought in a lot of patrons to your shop. Is the kitchen service of Emporium Antipolo as rewarding for both the shop and its clients? Are there more meals ordered than produce? Do the holiday seasons tax your kitchen to the max or can you still wing it when special orders flood Emporium Antipolo?
Kristine: Yes, you can say that. You can hardly differentiate what we eat from what we send out because we are always making and trying good food recipes using organic produce. I'd say that we sell 50-50, for both kitchen-prepared items and farm raw stuff. Holidays tax us primarily because we accept requests instead of closing shop. Even farmers barely go on holidays! Yes, we wing it. Have gotten used to it. And reap rewards, the more work we put in.
A sample order for an organic salad buffet, all freshly prepared the same day of delivery
REACH: People who go organic are known to be picky eaters, mostly because you can actually taste the difference between fresh organic ingredients in a meal and food prepared with chemically grown stuff. What are the most popular selling organic produce and kitchen items from Emporium Antipolo? For prepared herbs and butter?
Kristine: For the kitchen prepared items, a lot of buyers go for the salads with romaine and other lettuces, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, beans, bell peppers and herbs. The fridge food we shouldn't run out of include: vegan eggplant squares (lumpia) with raw salsa, squash nuggets with vegan gravy, fresh spring rolls, raw pesto, raw almond butter and raw pistachio mint butter to name a few. Our Asian sauté on rice meal, curry rice dish and Pomodoro cream pasta orders are always sure hits.
For the fresh harvest, again carrots, romaine, and cabbages, lemons and other fruits, broccoli, potatoes, squash and kale are regularly requested for--kale though is scarce.
Kitchen Items available for order: Freshly made Spring Rolls, a popular item!
Another freshly made, kitchen item, Herb Squares, also popular!
More Emporium Kitchen items available, fresh organic pesto dip with herbs, in small bottles
Emporium's Mountain Medley Pasta: because their recipe uses highland (Benguet) produce
REACH: You also make cleansing tonics and juice regimens from organic fruits, vegetables and herbs. What are some of the good stuff you make aside from our favorite organic calamansi concentrate? For people hooked by cleansing tonics, what would you recommend?
Kristine: More and more buyers are getting into juicing! We used to sell only five combinations of prepared beverages, but we now have about 20 varieties. We have this bright fuschia-colored juice called Fat Flush and it has coconut meat, carrots, beets, lemon, basil or mint, and ginger. It's sweet because of the carrots and sort of milky because of the coconut meat and personally it's my favorite.
The Good Stuff freshly prepared for a tonic or juice product as requested by customers
My daughter adores what we call Kidney Flush; it has cucumbers, melon or watermelon, lemon, cilantro (if there is supply), parsley, and turmeric. This summer, buyers are loving fruit juice combos using pineapples, passion fruits, cucumbers and tomatoes, to name a few. We enjoyed much of the strawberries while they were in season on October to April. I think it's healthy for drinkers to vary the types of juices they take. This way they are introduced to a wide range of natural flavors in their journey towards balanced health.
More fresh produce prepared for Tin's organic juices and tonics
REACH: As a reading advocacy, our website and magazine promotes a self-sufficiency among our readers such that they can survive when the grid gets knocked offline. This means growing our own food to at least sustain us when disaster strikes. The last thing we want is to lose our dignity and resort to raiding the neighbors because no food can be had anywhere like what happened in the aftemath of the storm surge in the south last year. Is it possible to order heirloom seeds from organic farms that provide you with produce or seedlings for herbs to plant at home for those who wish to have their own herb garden or tomato plants?
Kristine: Yes, we source and supply seeds and organic seedlings.
Certified organic produce from a farming family in Benguet who tapped Emporium to distribute their fresh harvest. Alfalfa sprouts grown especially for Kristine's shop and kitchen.
REACH: We believe that the last thing one must scrimp on is food. REAL good food is organically grown and prepared with no artificial preservatives. Emporium Antipolo is just one among 10 or more organic produce providers in Manila aside from the weekend markets. But Emporium Antipolo offers freshly made meals too and we can definitely vouch for the quality your fresh lumpia, almond butter, and pestos. How would you convince someone concerned for their well being to choose an alternative to the supermarket grid and wean themselves away from chemically infused foods and go organic, first trying produce, tonics and meals, then eventually growing their own food in their own homes and sharing the abundance with other people too?
Kristine: Truth be told, our homestore is here for those who are looking for fresh, clean, local organic food simply because that's what we have and we are passionate to share and make accessible these blessings with our shop's clients.
Veering away from traditional grocery items and fast food involves a lifestyle change. This might take time and definitely requires focus and determination. What I can say about organics is that the closer to nature your food is--or the closer to nature you are even, the more natural and simple your life becomes. The joy of abundance follows.
Kristine: hanging out with farmers and watering tomato plants almost ready for harvest season