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Job satisfaction--what is that? A prized commodity in this day a.

Natural health pioneer Paul Bragg would be pleased to see that todays's health food stores maintain his initial vision of bringing people, products and information that enhance optimum living and well-being.

Job satisfaction what is that? A prized commodity in this day and age. But there is at least one industry I personally know that provides benefits far beyond the financial: the health food business, and here's why.

Information - The health food store is "the" resource centre for information on natural, safe ways to prevent illness. From books, magazines and information sheets to personal conversations, the health store provides insights to help people make informed choices.

Intimate environment - Health store staff offer opportunities for customers to discuss their health conditions and realize that there are alternatives. As an ex-retailer, I have spoken to many customers who felt they had nowhere to turn to discuss sensitive health issues, and they found that we actually listened and cared. As a result, many of these people overcame their health challenges.

Product selection - When it comes to buying herbs, organic food, body care items and supplements, there is a wide variety of choice. Health stores do not just carry the "hot seller" that may have become popular through media attention, but also products used traditionally for years with good success.

Wholistic business - Regular health store shoppers will find positive change in their lives physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. This is because the health food lifestyle deals with the whole person.

Health network - A health food store is the link to many other very good alternative and complementary healers such as naturopathic doctors, herbalists, homeopaths, plus a large variety of other natural therapists. Often a health store is connected to a clinic that includes some of these modalities.

Quality - One of the biggest challenges for a shopper these days is choosing between product brands that vary in quality, potency and ultimately effectiveness. You get what you pay for, and the staff will assist you in understanding the differences. The health store carries products that meet the highest standards, many of which are exclusive only to health food stores.

Innovation - Practically every top-selling health product on the market was first sold in a health food store. Mass merchandisers never take a chance on a product until it has proven itself with consumer demand. Some new health products have been used for centuries in other countries and just recently came out for the general public. The health store is the first to support these products and educate people on their benefits. Without health stores' support, many popular products would not be available.

Action - The health food store is the watchdog for food safety by addressing major concerns such as genetically modified organisms, food irradiation, fluoridation, pesticide use, prescription drug side-effects, plus countless others. Over the years, I have seen many petitions initiated through the health stores that gave the government cause to reconsider decisions that could have been detrimental to the health of Canadians.

Most people I know who live in this industry LOVE their jobs and see it as much more than just a paycheck. Almost 30 years ago, I opened my first health food store: People who've worked for me have a commitment to helping customers live healthier lives. They care and it reflects in the services they provide. A health food store plays an important role in the community.

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