Feeding the nation with healthy alternatives
FROM the time we enter primary and even nursery school at times, we are taught all about the benefits of being healthy. We are educated on how beneficial a healthy diet is, and we learn about go foods, grow foods and glow foods so we know just how big a role the food we consume plays in our health.
It’s no surprise, then, that at multiple points in our lives, despite being used to eating all forms of junk, we try to eat healthier. We try to adjust our diets to reflect that of a person who wants to be clean and healthy, both inside and out. However, in Guyana, ‘eating healthy’, with new research and dietary plans, is a bit easier said than done.
One of the biggest challenges we face here is that of insufficiency in certain types of foods. In recent times, research has time and again shown the extreme health benefits of rarities such as quinoa and chia seeds, which offer high levels of protein and protective phytochemicals, help to protect cells. However, in order to have frequent access to these foods, lots of persons here in Guyana find themselves forking up large amounts of money just to acquire small portions of these ‘superfoods’.
This, though, may not be the case for much longer, thanks to the initiative of 28-year-old sole proprietor and mother of one, Alana Mann-Yisrael.
When she launched her Organic Non-GMO Whole Foods business in September of 2018, it was due, partially, to her own experience in trying to access healthy food, and partially due to a realisation she had while scanning the options she was presented with. “I came to the realisation that, on the average supermarket shelves, there was nothing that catered to diabetics, hypertension, or persons who generally have gluten problems, or issues where they would have to adjust their diet,” the young woman revealed.
When she started to purchase her own products, upon realising just how high the prices for some of the items were, it dawned on her that there were many other persons who were not able to access the healthy foods they required, and she began thinking of ways in which to make those products available “to the average Guyanese”.
“There wasn’t a business that was transparent that really provided a focus on getting really clean stuff for the average Guyanese citizen.
Despite the fact that her business was launched at a time when there wasn’t a large focus on types of meat-exclusive diets in Guyana, Mann-Yisrael pushed ahead with her concept.
PROVIDING A SERVICE
“Eventually, persons would catch on and educate themselves and get into the products,” she explained, “but it was more providing a service for persons than supplying an actual product, because I knew that once I focused on making it a service, everything else was going to fall into place.”
According to the young woman, her business initially started as a supply service for vegan Guyanese, due to frequent complaints about the lack of certain foods that contained certain nutrients found in meat. “So chia seeds were the alternative that could be used as breakfast foods, and quinoa could be used more for lunch and dinner,” she explained. She also listed a number of other foods that can be used as alternatives to traditional ingredients such as coconut flour in place of wheat flour, pink Himalayan salt, and monk fruit sweeteners, which are low-glycemic, in place of sugar. Mann-Yisrael told this newsletter that, in the initial phases of her trade, most of the support came from family members and close friends. It was really reaching out to supermarkets, though, that helped her to grow a client base.
LOT OF REJECTION
“Just talking to them and letting them know that these things would be so beneficial to their health…. It took quite some time, and there was a lot of rejection. I would say it probably took a year… 12 to 18 months to really get it onto supermarket shelves. Because while some believed in it, some didn’t. And as the market caught on, everybody decided, ‘hey, we heard that this thing is really selling, so we’re going to try it’,” she detailed. She noted that one of the appeals of her products is their impressive packaging, along with the modern design and the recognisable logo. Liquid N-Ergy products are also packaged in barrier bags, which protect their contents from moisture, dirt, and other contaminants. They are often made with heavy duty plastics, with puncture and smell proof properties, in order to keep the products fresh.
Mann-Yisrael is not only a young female entrepreneur, but she is also a mother who takes pride in creating a service that can assist Guyanese who want to live a healthy lifestyle.
In her charge to other persons now starting a business, or already involved in business management, she had this to say: “Financial management is one of the key things you need to succeed in for any business. Never spend beyond your needs. Not every income is money to spend.” Liquid-N-Ergy products are approved by the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department of Guyana and can be reached at Survival Supermarkets, Real Value Supermarket, Bounty Supermarkets, Nirva’s Supermarket, Coss Cutter Supermarket, Andrews Supermarket, DSL Cash and Carry, Foodmaxx at the Giftland Mall, Massy Supermarkets, Fresh Co. Supermarket, Mattai’s Supermarket, and J&P Gaigobin & Sons in Essequibo.