LAKE PLACID - When asked to do an interview for the Lake Placid News artist feature, Green Goddess health food store co-owner Tammy Loewy's response was "Artist?"
Loewy and her business partner, Wynde Kate Reese, operate the store at the Placid Pond shopping center.
On further consideration, she conceded that there is such a thing as the art of green.
From left, Green Goddess employees Killeen Little, Tony Hanf and co-owner Tammy Loewy brandish leaves of kale, a very green vegetable. (Photo — Martha Allen)
The art of green is a philosophy as well as a way of life. It takes some creativity to put it all together.
Back in the old days, "health-food nut" was a commonly heard term for someone who tried to eat a healthy diet. As Loewy sees it, however, being green is fundamentally sane.
"There is a practicalness to being green. It's down to earth."
We hear a lot these days about sustainable practices. What does that mean?
"Sustainable practices don't damage the land, and also sustain it for the future," Loewy explains simply. "If you feel that way about food, it's pervasive; eating organically and locally comes from a green place, so to do justice to that you have to do more than eat green."
Reese has a degree in holistic nutrition; Loewy's degree is in psychology. Recycling, composting and use of ecologically friendly flooring, paint and lighting inside the store are some of their sustainable practices. Lake Placid Electric supplies compact fluorocarbon bulbs as a green incentive.
"Being green is also using whole foods."
The store carries foods, supplements and personal care items. The bulk food section is large, and cuts down on use of packaging, as well as costs for customers.
Unfortunately, she says, "You almost have to have some plastic in your life."
Loewy and Reese and their employees try to make it easy for their customers to be green, just as they pursue the same goal, both professionally and in their personal lives.
You don't always know how, and you can't necessarily attain greenness in one fell swoop.
"There's always a step to take. You ask yourself, 'What's that next step?'"
One simple solution: Loewy and Reese encourage customers to take a bag, leave a bag. For every bag a customer contributes, they donate a nickel to a local charity or cause.
Running a green business requires coordination, juxtaposing many different elements that come together in a life sustaining way.
Companies that contribute to the store are carefully researched. Loewy and Reese attend trade shows to investigate companies.
"What are their practices? We talk to owners and search out companies that use sustainable practices."
With an online application called Buycott, Loewy and Reese scan products for disqualifying factors, such as genetic modification of food crops.
Another emphasis is "Local, local, local. But not just anything local. We push for use of good ingredients."
Hiring people is important too. Running a green business requires extra work from employees, including recycling, answering customers' questions and encouraging them to be eco friendly, as well as commuting to sustainability in various other ways. The art of green is an important part of employees' lives.
In the larger community, Green Goddess supports the farm to School Initiative. Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake schools work with the Wild Center in Tupper Lake along with Adirondack Harvest (North Country Farmers' Markets) and local farmers, including Fledging Crow, connecting local foods and farms with schools. As part of the program, school children learn to compost and raise their own vegetables in school gardens. Keene Central school was a forerunner and model for the initiative, Loewy said.
"Education is important."
Children's artwork decorates one wall of the store.
"Kids come in and draw a picture of their favorite healthy food, and we give them a piece of fruit," Loewy said.
It's one more example of sustainability.