The Haelan Centre Policy Statements
The Haelan Centre is business, which is based on a range of principles concerning healthy living and supporting sustainable, ecological and ethical businesses. But we are not your "everyday health food shop" in many ways and to understand the reasons why, read the policy statements below.
Wholefood principles and policies
The ideas that developed into wholefood eating arose in the early seventies, as a result of concerns expressed by doctors, scientists and other health care professionals about the increase in chronic disease in the twentieth century. The probable link was felt to be the deteriorating quality of people's eating habits. Food was becoming more highly refined and processed as a result of the application of food technology in the pursuit of profit. The consequence of this unfettered pursuit of profit in the area of food provision has resulted in enormous add on costs in health care.
It is now common knowledge that the consumption of highly refined foods in excess will lead to health problems. Such problems may be short or long term. Refined foods have much of the natural nutrients stripped away in the process of making them whiter and supposedly more palatable. This is why some foods are required by law to be fortified with artificial chemical vitamins to replace the natural ones that have been taken away. Such vitamins are a poor substitute for the real thing.
The foods that are sold at the Haelan Centre are chosen with certain basic criteria in mind. Basic food should be as close to the natural form as possible. For example: if grains are processed, they should be in such a way as to maintain as much as possible the original nutritional value of the food. All processing techniques should be of a type that has a low impact on the environment. For example we promote the idea of "stone ground" and avoid products that have been milled using modern high-speed roller milling techniques. These same ideas are applied to all products that we sell. It is made using sourdough, which we believe has compensating health benefits. Compound foods (those containing two or more ingredients) must not contain any artificial additives and those additives that are used, should also be as close to their original form as possible. Sea salt is accepted but ordinary refined salt is not allowed. Extracts of foods such as malt, molasses and soya milk are acceptable; glucose syrup is not. Any products that are refined outside of these means we insist on organic only, to maintain as much of the nutrient value as possible.
Policies on Sweeteners
A general policy from the beginning of the Haelan Centre was to avoid selling sugar or any products containing sugar, white or brown. In recent years, a product obtained from evaporated sugar cane juice known as Sucanat or Rapadura has become available. This product is made by crushing organic sugar cane to extract the juice; this is then dried to remove the water. It is sold by itself and is used in a number or products. Generally we continue our avoidance of sugar containing products, yet there has been a limited acceptance of some products on an item-by-item basis. We have also made the odd exception to allow organic white sugar in some products that are unique.
Principles of Organic Agriculture and Production
Organic farming addresses many of the issues that concern the Haelan Centre. We actively encourage the production and processing of food using independently verified organic guidelines. As a result of this policy, most of the food sold here is organically grown and processed (all of the fresh produce is organic). Organic farming holds a healthy respect for the environment and all life that lives in it. Synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides are avoided. The industrialisation of food production has had devastating adverse effects on the environment. Large scale farming, with its overuse of artificial fertilisers and chemical insecticides and herbicides, leaves little room for the species that used to thrive in the hedgerows and fallow fields of the smaller scale farms of the past, in the long term it depletes the soil of minerals, so that less and less are available for the food plant to take up each year. This results in food with lower nutritional value, one of the reasons why it has become necessary to supplement our food with extra mineral and vitamins. The threat to the environment has recently become even more acute, now that genetically modified organisms are being released into the environment. To read more about the aims of Organic Agriculture and Processing visit the Soil Association_Website.
Organic food is not necessarily wholefood
The end of the twentieth century has seen an unprecedented increase in the production, sale and demand for organic goods. Yet this growth, although encouraging, has its pitfalls. Organic food is not necessary wholefood - and therefore not all organically grown or processed products are acceptable by us. Even white sugar is available organically grown and is increasingly being used by companies anxious to jump onto the "organic" bandwagon. Our aim is to try to ensure that everything we stock is beneficial to your health in some way.
Bio-dynamic farming is a method of farming based on the principles of anthroposophy - the philosophy of Rudolph Steiner. "Anthroposophy integrates precise observation of natural phenomena, clear thinking and knowledge of the spirit." Whilst organic farming holds a healthy respect for the environment, biodynamic farming may be said to have a deep reverence for Mother Earth. Whilst organic farming techniques halt the destruction of the environment, biodynamic farmers go one step further and actively heal the environment. The understanding of the land (how it is affected by the people and animals that dwell there, the weather, seasons, moon, planets and stars) is very much deeper. Bio-dynamic preparations, or "medicines for the earth", have been formulated and are used in conjunction with very careful composting, to bring the living soil back into balance so that it may yield its natural mineral content to the plants that are grown in it. To read more about Bio-dynamic farming visit biodynamics.com.
Policies on Country of Origin of Products
Unfortunately to date, there have been few financial incentives for farmers in this country to convert from orthodox to organic methods of farming. Hopefully as the organic movement continues to thrive, this will change. We try to offer produce grown in this country where possible, yet for this reason, and reasons of climate - much of our produce is imported. Due to the impact of transport on the environment, we refuse to stock any items that have been flown into the country - we will only stock items that have arrived here by boat.
Holistic Health Care Policies
It is common for customers to ask staff both downstairs and upstairs for advice on how to use the foods and remedies that we sell. It is important for customers to remember that although some of our staff will have completed some training in various related disciplines, our owner, Amabel Booth is an AfN registered nutritionist and she is able to give advice from the perspective of a trained practitioner. Staff are trained to only give advice about minor health problems and to refer customers to a doctor and/or practitioner where this is appropriate. When advice is given, it is as comprehensive as is possible in the short time available. We try to focus primarily on helping the customer to look at their dietary and lifestyle habits, prior to considering what herbal or other remedy will be of use. Generally customers will know that they are working too hard, not eating properly etc. yet we feel it is important that these issues are addressed alongside taking remedies. It is all too easy to pop a pill and hope that we are sorting out our health - it is never that simple. Reference literature is available in the Haelan Centre which customers are free to consult in order to make their own choices as to what herbal, homeopathic or nutritional remedies will be of benefit to them.
Herbal and Nutritional Remedies
Remedies are chosen on the basis of provable functionality; quality and wholesomeness of ingredients; and closeness to nature. We offer a choice of ranges, which meet these requirements to varying degrees - the more expensive supplements tend to meet all these requirements, the cheaper ranges might not. For example some of the cheaper encapsulated herbs and oils use non-vegetarian gelatine, although wherever possible we have offered a vegetarian or vegan alternative.
Herbs and Spices
From the earliest days of the shop in the 1950's, the Haelan Centre has always stocked a very wide range of herbs and spices. None of our herbs or spices has been treated with any chemicals during processing as far as we are able to discover. Because so many of them come from distant parts of the world, it is very difficult to give guarantees. Therefore, we decided that wherever possible we would stock the organic or wild form of the herb or spice as long as world production was great enough to maintain year round supplies. These standards are particularly important for the healing herbs and spices. In addition to a wide selection of herbs and spices, we also supply a comprehensive selection of herb tea bags; most of which are from organic sources. There is also a large selection of organic herbs in the form of tinctures available from our Herbal Dispensary.
Health and enjoyment of life
Ultimately the selection of food products sold at the Haelan Centre is a compromise between strict adherence to healthful dietary principles and the pleasures of an enjoyable life. Within this framework, we hope to supply a range of high quality products that are both healthful and enjoyable. We were the first shop to sell both wholefood crisps and natural sugar-free soft drinks. In and of themselves, even these products are not necessarily healthful but they are enjoyable. They are produced with healthful principles in mind and are sold within an environment where a wide variety of wholesome foods are available, thereby giving the customer a wide choice. This policy is also very helpful for parents who want to bring up their children more healthfully, in that it enables them to offer to their children products similar to those more generally promoted to children, but that are less damaging to a growing child's health.
Tea and Coffee
As with certain other foods and drinks, both tea and coffee are not considered to from a part of a healthful lifestyle. As a result, tea and coffee were not normally sold in health and wholefood shops in the past. There was only one brand of tea available in health shops in the sixties and seventies and that was only sold because it was reputed to be naturally low in substances that are harmful to health such as tannin. This tea (Luaka) was sold alongside specialist healthful teas from Japan - e.g. Kukicha, Sencha. In many cultures, drinking tea and coffee is one of the pleasures of life and as long as not over indulged, they can enhance the enjoyment of life. For this reason (and because organic tea and coffee are now available) we stock a wide range, with an emphasis on fairly traded teas and coffees.
Body Care Products
We only sell products that are not tested on animals and that are made as much as possible using plant based ingredients. A limited amount of chemical preservatives are used in some body and skin care products, some ranges use more natural preservatives such as silver sulphate or grapefruit seed extract or none at all. Some products such as hair colouring, contain many chemical ingredients, we have chosen to stock these as they offer a safer alternative to standard hair colourings. We hope that customers will be tempted to change to the totally natural henna and plant based hair colour range that we offer.
Household Cleaning Products
For many years we helped to raise the awareness of our impact on the environment due to the use of household cleaning products. Such products are used by people to maintain a clean personal environment - what wasn't so widely known was the adverse ecological impact that they have on the wider environment. To help remedy this situation, a movement formed to promote the development and use of environmentally friendly and biodegradable household cleaners. Similar concerns were expressed regarding paper products and plastic products. Now a full range of environmentally friendly products is available. All our household cleaning products are biodegradable. All the paper products are from recycled and non-chlorine bleached material. The carrier bags we use are made from recycled plastic or degradable materials. We have a very wide range of refill available for household products: Washing up liquid, laundry liquid, fabric softener, all purpose cleaner, toilet clear, glass cleaner and many more! We try to encourage customers to refill the containers they already have rather than buying new single-use plastic packaged products. Any container can be used for refilling, as long as there is a volume listed on the label! We have recently expanded our range of refills to include the Faith in Nature hair and body care.