Bloomington locals push for healthier food options

Veronica Gomez Resurrection College Prep HS | July 12, 2012

Local organic grocery store prevents cross contamination, ensuring that all organic foods stay 100% organic. Photo by Veronica Gomez

On the corner of College and Kirkwood Avenue, in the blazing July heat, Deborah Riley sat near a makeshift white tent that continuously shifted with the light breeze. They were not ideal conditions but Riley has changed her lifestyle and wants to share her story.

Riley is a sales representative for Xango, a direct selling agency that distributes a health juice made from the mangosteen fruit that grows in Indonesia. She recently began selling in Bloomington but, according to Riley, the growing demand for organic foods is allowing her business to “really take off.” Each day, she sets up a tent and pitches the product that changed her life.

“I had inflammation in my legs and thighs before Xango,” Riley said. “I needed Ibuprofen to help me sleep because of the pain. I hated medicating myself like that. Within three days, Xango got rid of my aches. Medicine didn’t do that.”

Xango makes a number of different fruit based drinks and skin products, but their most popular item is Xango Juice. Priced at $120 per four-bottle case, the sweet yet tart puree is gaining more buyers by the month.

In 2005, the Mayo Clinic stated that there are no published clinical trials showing evidence that either the Mangosteen or its juice have any effects on arthritis or other human disorders, whether positive or negative. However, that does not stop buyers in 36 countries. Riley attributes the product’s popularity to nations growing interest in healthier options.

“Being aware of what you put in your body is becoming a trend,” Riley said. “People want to eat cleaner and Xango is a great addition to that.”

Riley believes that the body will heal itself if it is given the right nutrients. After two decades of not paying attention to what she ate, she finally concluded that eating junk food and chemically treated fruits and vegetables could be the source of her health problems.

“People are obese from [bad eating habits],” Riley said. “Children are getting diabetes because of it. That didn’t happen back in the day.”

Many people like Riley are beginning to take this approach to health. Bloomingfoods Market and Deli employee Renee Phillips has been working around and eating organic food long enough to see the benefits.

“I don’t think many people realize the amount of toxins that go into their body,” Phillips said. “Of course it’s impacting their health.”

Alison Van Doren goes to Bloomingfoods frequently to help sustain her all-organic diet. Their selection of organic fruits, vegetables and grains makes shopping trips easy for the Bloomington native.

“I eat organic for my own personal health,” Van Doren said. “It stops me from ingesting pesticides and other things that really weren’t meant for fruit or for my body.”

Bloomington locals have an advantage when it comes to healthy eating, but Van Doren still thinks more can be done by Indiana residents and officials.

“My mom taught me all about organic foods,” Van Doren said. “Most kids don’t have that and just eat whatever’s put in front of them. Yeah, Indiana could probably use a few more health laws, but I don’t think anything’s going to happen without parents asking for it.”

For now, Van Doren is content with the three Bloomingfoods locations that are spread throughout Bloomington.

“You don’t really find [organic] grocery stores that are so well stocked,” Van Doren continued. “I know a lot of places don’t have any. Bloomington has three.”

Others are not as pleased. Riley still believes there is more that Bloomington can do to make health food a more accessible option.

“There needs to be a push to make health food a priority,” Riley said. “Something needs to be done on a governmental level.”

Riley believes that if the government will soon take notice of the quickly growing ‘clean eating’ trend, but until then, it is up to the people to make positive eating choices.

“People should do their own research,” Riley said. “For their own sake and for the sake of their family and friends, changes have to be made.”