Nino Booth

22nd October 1946 - 30th July 2001
Co-Founder and Former Owner of the Haelan Centre

A celebration of a Life
As many of our regular customers will know, Nino Booth co-founder and former owner of the Haelan Centre died suddenly, but peacefully, in his home on Monday 30th July 2001.

We wish this part of the site to be a celebration of Nino's life and tireless work in the wholefood and herbal trade.


 

Enlightening the public 
When Nino first opened the Haelan centre with his partner Peter Woodhead in 1971, there was very little understanding of what wholefood actually was. It was an alien concept to most people, who thought that sliced white plastic packed bread was the best thing… Nino made it his mission to enlighten the public and introduce them to another way of eating, another way of looking at our health and another way of addressing the needs of the planet as a whole.

 

Ahead of his time 
These days, concepts of wholefood and organic foods are very familiar to us all. People are much more aware of how food affects their health; the dangers of synthetic pesticides; the threat of genetic modification of food; and the importance of compassion for animals in farming. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have more members than the total number of people who voted Labour in the last election. Organic food and complementary health issues are regularly discussed in both broadsheet and tabloid newspapers. Nino, and other like-minded individuals, who used to be viewed as wholefood "cranks" chucked merrily, as they saw the rest of society catch on to their way of thinking.

 

Setting wholefood standards 
As Nino began working with the shop he realised that there were many foods that were being put forward as "health food" which were not healthy at all. Along with three other like-minded friends he formed the NAHS Code of Standards for food quality. He took a close look at the ingredients of many food lines carried by wholesalers to the health food trade and came up with a list of questionable ingredients - sugars, fats, refined foods and additives. Nino found that "At least 20% of all products on sale in the average health store do not meet even the most basic definition of a health food." Their meetings were held in the flat above where the Haelan Centre is still today.

 

A bit of a stickler
As the friends prospered and the health food trade grew, some became a little more flexible with the guidelines that they agreed. Nino held out the longest - refusing to sell the now famous Green and Blacks Organic Chocolate because it contained organic sugar. He was most annoyed, as he really liked the chocolate and was forced to go to a competitors shop to buy it! Nowadays, you will find the Green and Black's range in the Haelan Centre thanks to the introduction of the Policy about Health and Enjoyment of Life, but we are still just as strict about keeping sugar out of our everyday products such as spreads, yoghurts and savoury foods. The Haelan Centre Policy Statements, that Nino set down on paper in 1999, are guidelines that we will always adhere to. 

 

A man with a dream 
Nino was a visionary, a man with a dream that we will all, one day, have a healthy diet. "I believe that the specialist shops of the future will be Junk Food Shops and the supermarkets will stock only healthy foods." He was one of the few people in the trade to feel no threat from the supermarkets, he actively welcomed them branching out into organics and encroaching on the health food sector. He viewed them as helping him to realise his dream of bringing wholesome food into the mainstream.