Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks


Juliette's Kitchen:
Organics, Philosophy, Politics,
and Food Safety:

An interview with Andre Chomondeley,
co-owner of the Second Nature Health Food Store

by Juliette Aiyana, LAc

Note: The spiritual and political views mentioned in this article are the beliefs of the individuals quoted, and are not necessarily held by other Pulse of Oriental Medicine authors, or the magazine as a whole.

When I met Andrea 12 years ago, he was the manager of The Food Co-op in New Brunswick, New Jersey. For many years now he has co-owned Second Nature, a large and thriving health food store in Red Bank, New Jersey.

Juliette Aiyana (JA): Tell us a little more about your background, what got you into health food, and why it has remained your career and passion for so long.

Andre Chomondeley (AC): My dietary evolution started in New Brunswick…around 1983 I was in school at Rutgers' and walking along College Avenue when I saw a Hare Krishna table with info, some tasty vegetarian dessert things and lots of books, including The Higher Taste . This book dug pretty deep into Hindu/Krishna philosophy, re-incarnation etc. but what hit me upside the head was the fact that we are killing living beings, sentient beings that feel pain, that have nervous systems almost identical to ours, etc. They also introduced me clearly to the whole concept of "karma". So compassion for animals has long been a major reason for not eating them for almost 20 years.

Then as I learned more about the health issues surrounding animal consumption, and the environmental devastation that meat production causes, there was no turning back. I remain passionate for the advancement of a natural diet because I get to see the results of countless people who have changed their lifestyle during my time in retail, and the incredible results they can get.

JA: Many people tell me that they think organic and health foods are "too expensive". How do you respond to that?

AC: The easy, and somewhat flippant answer, that I give all the time is "Isn¹t it expensive to be sick?" Look in my medicine cabinet or that of any "health nut" you won¹t find Tagamet, Claritin, Tums, Zantac, Pepcid AC, Coumadin, Paxil, etc. OTC Drugs and prescriptions are not cheap (Americans are on an average of SIX prescriptions!)

Also, lets really look at the fact that "non-organic" foods cost us all millions, perhaps billions of tax dollars - who do we think pays for all the endless cleanup of pesticide damage? Who do we think is paying for the massive attempts to save the Gulf of Mexico which we¹ve pretty well devastated with chemical runoff? Whose tax dollars subsidized the Pork Industry with 4 or 5 billion dollars to prop us sagging sales just a few years ago?

Health author/researcher Gary Null has calculated that a head of non-organic lettuce would cost $4-5 if you added in all the taxpayer subsidies. Finally, with irradiation almost the norm, how much money is an organic food critic willing to save to eat food that has been treated with x-rays from plutonium-237?

We need to educate people that organic foods more truly reflect the cost to the farmers and producers of it. The pork industry, chicken industry, non-organic corn, wheat, soy farmers all are subsidized by your tax dollars. The Organic farmers have gotten none of this to date. And organic food usually tastes better. Life is too short to save your money and eat dangerous food that's also tasteless!

JA: Many of your shoppers have switched from eating foods from the supermarket to eating fresh, organic, seasonal vegetables, and organic meat and dairy products, and whole grains. What do they say about the difference in taste, quality and how they feel?

AC: People who genuinely make a change in their lives to an organically based diet always say they feel better, enjoy their food more, taste the real flavors of natural foods, and their allergies subside. I get all kinds of positive reactions. I've seen this consistently for the more than 12 years I've been in this industry. That's one of the major reasons I stay with it. Few who experience real food the way it was for millions of years turn back.

JA: I am sure you agree that shopping at your local health food store/co-op isn't just looking for good food but it is also a political statement and action. So what is the political statement and what is the importance of this action?

AC: The statement is a loud and clear "I demand better food than what the mainstream corporate food-machine wants to test on me." This is literally true as dozens of new additives and food technologies keep arriving on supermarket shelves, without public consent, and often without notification. It's also a way to send a message that you support small, local farmers and farmers who seek to return to a method of farming (organic) that uses crop rotation, beneficial pests, and healthy plants instead of petro-chemical based pesticides and fertilizers.

JA: With so much conflicting scientific reports about benefits or detriments of soy, Genetically Modified Foods (GMO's), etc., I bet many of your shoppers come in with a lot of questions. How do you help them flesh out the truth?

AC: Well, I'm real big on pointing out to people that they must consider the source and economic biases of every recommendation or condemnation they encounter. And just as the Soy Industry Board (or whoever promotes soy) has gone overboard with hanging every magical power on this humble little bean so have the opponents of soy and even of vegetarianism focused on the small percent of people who have overdone their intake of highly processed soy products like TVP (texturized vegetable protein), soy salami, soy milk, soy meat analogs etc.

We shouldn¹t ignore, though in typical style we will, the fact that many in Asia have a diet which features soy prominently BUT in conjunction with less or no animal protein, dark leafy greens, good fats, nuts, seeds, other legumes and vegetables of all types. So, soy clearly has a place in a balanced diet if one wishes to consume it. The trick is to not let soy be the food you eat at every meal as many vegetarians and other health conscious people do. Also, to emphasize the least processed versions of soy: edamame, miso, tempeh, tamari etc.

In terms of GMO's there really is noone saying they are a good idea that is not in some way strapped to the Biotech Cashcow. The pro- GMO forces tip their hand by refusing to allow any kind of clear, unambiguous labeling. If it's so safe, so good for us, why can¹t a consumer choose by reading clear consumer info at the point of purchase? Another tip is that the biotech/irradiation industry is actively coercing the FDA to allow them to rename nuclear Irradiation as "cold pasteurization."

Irradiation uses spent nuclear fuel (incl. plutonium 237) as the operative agent in an ill-advised attempt to "purify" food. USA school lunches are about to be approved for irradiation, another example of testing technologies on innocent bystanders.

Remember those films of the US soldier in foxholes, as they watched the mushroom cloud of test-nukes? Every child in public school is about to reprise that role unless we do something.

JA: How can people find a health food store or co-op in their area? And are there any other resources about fresh, healthy eating you recommend?

AC: First off - I recommend the yellow pages! In my travels around the USA, I eat incredibly well every day, in every city or town.You will almost always find a couple of nearby health food stores in the phone book. The next step would be to look up health oriented or vegetarian restaurants call them and ask where natural foods can be found (and vice versa).

Second just about every modern supermarket in the USA has a "health food aisle", and at least 2-3 organic produce items. Many stores now have a significant organic produce section just ask. Third use the web! Any search engine will help you out if you type in "name of town natural food" or anything similar.

There are also websites like that list natural food stores and restaurants worldwide. There's an incredible amount of mail-order outfits, including delivery of fresh organic produce.

Other resources:

  • Magazines like - Vegetarian Times, Natural Health, and Yoga Journal.
  • On the radio in the NY area, or via the web Gary Null (WBAI 99.5 FM, Noon-1pm weekdays. Also, Dr Ronald Hoffman (WOR 710 AM, weeknights 9pm-10pm Both radio shows feature daily topics on every aspect of natural health, diet, detoxing, the dangers of conventional drugs, the compromised FDA etc.
  • For info on the dangers of animal milk, which also has an incredible links page. For recipes, medical info on vegetarianism/veganism and reversal of disease check out or
  • Prion/Mad cow disease

Lots of great links at all the above sites.

JA: Wow. Thank you, Andre, for answering my questions with such truth and passion and for all the resources for Pulse readers!

Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.
Aiyana Center for Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs, NYC

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