When Radiance Wholefoods was first started by American expat Nicole Goddresse, it was a home-based business for the members of her vegan group. But the clientele and the list of vendors gradually expanded, and when Nicole had to move to Australia this year, Thai-Indian entrepreneurs Anchal Pathela and Ravina Sachdev happily became the new owners, with help from Sanjay, Ravina’s husband. The three musketeers, as they like to call themselves, have taken this home business online to offer a wide variety of organic and health foods along with fresh local produce and imported items. We spoke to the musketeers, and had an email chat with the former owner, about expanding the clientele and competing with supermarkets. —REENA KARIM
Tell us about your products.
Sanjay: All or most of our products are organic, health foods, and whole foods. There are some products where organics don’t exist, but they are considered health foods, such as almonds. But 70–80 percent of our products are all certified through IFOAM, USDA, and EU boards. We focus on local produce because it is the freshest. But if it’s not available in Thailand, then we import it. We are also one of the few who carry dairy products like organic yoghurt and hummus.
Anchal: Our two main suppliers of fresh produce in Thailand are Harmony Life International and National and Premium Foods.
Ravina: We also have a small section of organic detergent, herbal toothpastes, and soaps. We [work with] Bangkok Bread Boys to offer a nice selection of breads as well, but it is by order only.
How does your online business keep up with stores?
Nicole: There are many supermarkets, but generally the customer service is not great, and the stock of items seems to change from one week to the next. [Radiance has] a money-back guarantee, and customers don’t have to go from Villa to Tops to Gourmet to find just one item.
How do you reach out to people?
Nicole: [Radiance has] a distribution list and a newsletter each week with recipes and new products.
Anchal: We [also] showcase at the green market at K Village and Bo.lan farmers markets.
Who are your customers?
Ravina: Ninety percent are expats. We also have Thai and Japanese [customers].
What’s the attitude among Thai-Indians toward organic food?
Ravina: The younger generations are trying, but it’s hard for the older generation. It takes time for Indian people to be aware.
Sanjay: The price could be a deterrent especially for Indian households, as the elder members still go to the wet market to buy things.
What is the most common myth that people have about organic food?
Nicole: That organic food is always more nutritious than conventionally grown produce. While organic produce can be more nutritious, what needs to be considered is how fresh the produce is. The fresher the produce, the more nutrient-dense it will be.
Learn more at radiancewholefoods.com
ECO TIPS: Eating
WASH AND PEEL If you can’t buy organic produce, peel what can be peeled or wash your fruit and vegetables with salt or baking soda to remove chemicals sprayed on them.
EAT LESS MEAT Reduce your carbon footprint by eating less meat but better meat. And by better, we mean, free-range, hormone-free, organic, grass-fed meats.
SHOP LOCAL Buying organic products that have travelled around the world on gas-guzzling airplanes and trucks is not beneficial to the environment. Moreover, imported produce gets sprayed at the border to prevent germs from entering the country. Local fruit and vegetables are not only cheaper, they are fresher and taste better when in season.
PLAN FOR THE WEEK By thinking ahead about your weekly meals, you save money and reduce waste.
GET A TIFFIN Pack your lunch in a reusable container. If you don’t cook, then bring a container with you whenever you order anything to go.
Published in Masala Lite magazine, February 2013
Pdf Friends of Earth