A Recipe for Good Health: Ingredients Health Food Store

By Alyssa Belter

A chef once told me “you are what you cut,” and Cindy Dreger of Ingredients Health Food Store and Apple Cafe shares this philosophy. Aware of the link between cooking and good health, Cindy and co-owner Deanna Danychuk’s newly opened store focuses on high-quality, sustainably-sourced, whole foods. The wide selection offers something for any diet, whether raw-food, gluten-free, vegan or regular ol’ omnivore.


Since “good-for-the-environment” practices often result in “good-for-you” ingredients, Cindy favours organic products. Sourcing local items is also a mandate. As a former market gardener, she wanted nutritious fruits and vegetables to form the backbone of the store. Currently, SunTrio Farm, Saanich Organics, and Makaria Farm supply produce and there are plans to include more local farms in the future.


Cindy is especially excited to carry a variety of superfoods, spices, tea blends and herbal medicines from Harmonic Arts, a Courtenay-based botanical dispensary. This conscientious, family-run business searches close to home for their supplies, even recruiting local farmers to start growing herbs not currently available in the area. Promoting sustainability, they provide information on how to use their products economically, and which are rare, to be employed sparingly. Cindy also thinks Mumm’s sprouting seeds are “the coolest thing – nothing is more nutritious.” And she praises TeaFarm for their experimentation in growing tea locally.


Inventive ice-cream sandwiches from Cold Comfort, artisan sausages from Szasz Fine Foods, vinegar from Spinnakers and the oft-mentioned Feys + Hobbs Number Three Crisps are some of the offerings from Victoria businesses.Other local products include seaweed from Dakini Tidal Wilds in Sooke, Kilreeny pasta made in Cowichan Bay, sea salt from the Vancouver Island Salt Company, The EDGE energy bars from Qualicum Beach, Drumroaster coffee from Cobble Hill, Salt Spring Gelato and dried wild mushrooms from Untamed Feast. From Gathering Place on Cortes Island come spices, salts and tea blends. Other parts of the province provide raw crackers, trail mixes with sprouted seeds, kale chips, olives and chickpea miso (Organic Lives in Vancouver), organic tea (Two Hills Tea located in Nelson), spice blends, soup and bread-baking mixes (Made with Love from Kamloops) and plenty of alternative flours and whole grains (Anita’s Organic Mill in Chilliwack).


A substantial bulk food section stocks everything from black chickpeas to Bhutanese red rice to vegan chocolate to Zuni heirloom beans. Over 90% of the items are organic. Customers are encouraged to bring in their own plastic bags or containers but empty mason jars and compostable plastic bags (made from non-GMO corn) are also available for sale. Gentle Earth, another Victoria company, offers fair-trade, 100% natural and organic shampoo, body and dish soap at the bulk bar.


The store aspires to be a model of environmentally and socially responsible business. Partnering with refuse, they will be the company’s first flagship store to pursue a zero-garbage goal. Everything from tin foil to soft plastic is separated into bins, picked up by bike, and recycled. The cafe even started making its own almond milk to eliminate packaging waste.


Cindy envisions the store as a community meeting place that educates, supports and connects people empowered in their health and the health of the planet. Guy Dauncey recently shared his ideas about creating a “green” economy during a lunch-time lecture, which Cindy plans to make a regular occurrence. Upcoming speakers include an osteopath knowledgeable about digestive health and a local market gardener. Sheila, the Apple Cafe chef, will teach a raw-food “cooking” class and workshops on canning, fermentation and cheese-making will be offered in collaboration with LifeCycles. And Cindy has been posting “how-to” videos on YouTube which explain how to sprout rice or make hemp milk. All of these resources aim to unlock the “why” behind the “what” of shopping for food and the “how” of cooking, strengthening a cycle of good health.


Ingredients radiates vitality. A chipper, cheery apple sign welcomes customers inside where staff are refreshingly genuine, helpful and pleasant. They greet each other with hugs at the start of a shift. Cindy believes some of this energy emanates from the Apple Cafe kitchen where almonds and mung beans are sprouted and used in different raw, gluten-free and/or vegetarian meals and treats. Just like the first ingredient in a package of granola from hOMe Grown Living Foods in Lake Cowichan, the most important element of this store is love.



Ingredients Health Food Store and Apple Cafe


2031 Store Street

(North of Capital Iron)

Victoria, B.C.


(250) 590-6177



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