We caught up with Denise Tam, a holistic nutritionist and founder and owner of Food for Life, and learnt about her passion for a healthy and holistic lifestyle and her mission to promote informed consumerism, to make sure that what we’re eating is best for our bodies.
Food for Life sells organic and healthy foods, snacks and even household products. They have branches in multiple locations across Hong Kong Island including Central and Wan Chai. They were also kind enough to offer Ecozine readers a 10 per cent discount! All you need to do is mention Ecozine and the article you’ve read and you can receive 10% off on regular priced items until end of 31 July. (Only available at the Wong Chuk Hang store.)
When and why did you start Food for Life?
Our first location opened in 2009, the same year I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Retail in Hong Kong is never a business model one would generally choose as a sure investment, but our (my mom and I) passion for holistic health always trumps our fears of business obstacles and challenges. Food for Life began as a desire to provide the best quality health products from supplements, to food, to skincare and household items to the people of Hong Kong. And it is fueled by our own personal journeys with health challenges.
What’s the market like for organic and healthy products in Hong Kong? Have you felt any change in the marketplace since you started?
Since 2009 the market has certainly expanded and grown. Back in 2003 when mum first came back to Hong Kong from Canada, the organic and natural lifestyle scene was probably at least 10 years behind North America and Europe. Today, I would say the health trends are moving a lot quicker to Hong Kong and people are more receptive towards any new concept in the natural and organic sphere.
At the same time this makes it more confusing for consumers to pick quality products and this is another reason why Food for Life was created. We didn't want to just provide any and all healthy products for our shoppers; we do the research, test the products and do our due diligence for any products that we have in the shops. It is important for us that every product in our shops is not only safe and effective, but the best of its kind in the market.
What are your three most popular products?
The Udo's Choice Super 8 probiotics and Bali Sun Coconut Oil have a strong following but our most recent star is the Pana Chocolate that has drawn people to our shops from near and far just to pick up a bar.
Where do you see the business in 5-10 years?
We hope for Food for Life to be a trusted and household name – to be the shop of choice for healthy and organic products but also for us to be one of the key educators and leaders of healthy and sustainable living in Hong Kong.
What do you think is the greatest factor preventing people in Hong Kong from living healthier lives?
Long working hours has created a culture of dining out and quick and easy meals, but this also encourages a disconnect with our food which is one of the most dangerous things about the century we live in. We don't see the factories that the animals are raised in, we don't know how long our fruits and vegetables have travelled to reach the supermarkets and we are completely oblivious to the oils and other ingredients used in creating dishes that we often eat.
The ongoing demands and pace of life in Hong Kong is also not optimal for a healthy lifestyle. People do not know how to rest in this city. Instead we book a flight out when we're burnt out and come back to burn ourselves out again until the next trip. But our bodies and minds need to find balance and peace in our day to day and not just when we're on the beaches of Thailand.
Could you give our readers one essential tip for healthy living?
Awareness. Be aware. Be aware of how your plate of penne is made, be aware of the ingredients in the box of cookies, the shampoo you use, the detergent you wash your clothes with. Be aware of the signs your body tells you when you wake, when you're at work, on holiday, after a big meal, before sleep. Finally, be aware of the beauty of each moment, of each relationship. With awareness we are more informed to make good decisions and with awareness we are more thankful. With both of these, you can live a long life.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Please come and check out our newly opened concept store in Wong Chuk Hang where we have a kitchen, foot bath, lounge area and store in one big open space. You can come hang out, test and taste our products or read one of the many books in our library. Sometimes I'm there testing out a recipe and I’m always looking for guinea pigs!