Dorothy Lane Market is serious about getting its customers to eat right.
The words “Real Food” are found throughout the three stores in the chain — in yellow signs, stickers and badges that urge customers to “Eat Real Food.”
The admonition is part of a program, launched a little more than a year ago, that's now recruiting guest speakers from the local professional community for monthly in-store seminars on topics ranging from keeping fit to understanding autism.
All of the sessions help to define what “Real Food” is all about — both literally and figuratively, according to Healthy Living director/educator Lori Kelch.
“It is food that has no preservatives, contains no hormones or antibiotics and contains only unprocessed or minimally processed ingredients,” she said.
It's not just apples and beans from farms close by. Real Food could include chocolate chip cookies made in-store with minimally processed flour and real sugar, butter and eggs.
“Real food is food we consume basically in its natural form,” Kelch said. “In our Western culture, we've moved so far away from that, a lot of people don't understand what it is.”
Dorothy Lane has always prided itself on high-quality, fresh products, and Kelch said connecting health to freshness and authenticity has become a cornerstone of the chain's outreach.
“A big part of what we do is educational,” she said. For instance, she tells customers that the word “enriched” is a negative, not a positive.
“The word ‘enriched’ means the natural nutrients have been removed and synthetic ones have been added back to make it a viable product,” Kelch explained. “And those synthetics are not always absorbed by the body.”
Howard Solganik, an industry consultant and president of Culinary Resources, Dayton, Ohio, sees the Real Food program giving the independent a valuable edge in the marketplace.
“They've positioned themselves so their customers don't have a need for a natural food store, and they have a very loyal following. No matter who comes into this market, it would be hard to get Dorothy Lane customers to switch,” he said.