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A Most Powerful Community Connector of Food And Health - Food Works

One can only imagine such a powerful economic engine located in their community, much less a business solidly acting in the best interest of community, human and planetary health. Meet Food Works, a purposefully functioned business at the intersection of health and food providing value and recognition to the farmers, ranchers and community as a whole.

Food Works would be considered by most a health food store as it resembles the footprint and layout of such with a wall display of supplements and vitamins, an aisle of bulk selections, home and personal care and several aisles for food with the perimeter ringed in fresh, frozen and produce. There is no special section for natural, clean, regenerative, organic and local, because that is the essence of their business, offering the healthiest available. Yet, it is what you don't see immediately that is transformational.

Where They Source Product Throughout Montana

The respect for the community is a business culture you sense when you walk through the door. It's not a transaction-based experience, but rather relationship based. "This business is constantly evolving and we appreciate the patience of our customers as we curate what makes sense to them and to us." The feeling of a collaborative business is also communicated through their website where they ask customers to say hello and invite feedback on product selections and/or special orders, over and above the walk-in requests. As for the suppliers, they are welcomed with a personal note and a link to the suppliers website completing the circle between consumer and supplier.

This Livingston, Montana health food store business is owned and operated by husband and wife team Don DeSmet and Lynette Larson-DeSmet, both seeming to be in constant motion throughout their store, 7 days a week, working along side staff. "We don't get out much, so we rely on our customers, who are a wealth of information on products, including the health benefits. They are a constant source of education, which allows us to get better and better at sourcing", says Lynette.

Photo's Displayed Throughout Of Suppliers - At The Source

The couple is not new to the business of food having previously managed a food coop in Hawaii and Don's family operating a general store. Lynette was raised to source and home cook for a large family in Dear Lodge, MT. They both knew at an early age that the decisions they made about the choices of the food they selected had consequences. For Lynnette it was the value and nourishment it could offer a large family. For Don, the grocers decisions had a visible and direct economic multiplier effect on sourcing and serving a small community.

The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.
Coretta Scott King

It is when you scratch the surface, that you realize the powerful role Don and Lynette exhibit. The store and the culture they employ sets them up to be a powerful economic engine, purchasing local where possible and providing it in a form and location that provides those that are unable to visit or source from independent farms and coops, an easy solution. The economic engine of providing an increased staff at the store to respond to the demand and now a new location nearly doubling that investment, should really turn heads. Consumers, staff and suppliers are all benefiting from the crowd sourcing knowledge of nourishment, whole foods, local suppliers and the connection of food to health. The benefits to the community are never ending.

Menu and MIssion

"We're evolving", says Lynette of their relationship with the community. As they introduce themselves and we learn more about them, we are able to provide the selection and in the form that appeals to them." In fact, it became apparent that customers appreciated the ready to eat, hot-bar solutions so much that Lynnette and Don decided to open a second location to offer more ready-to-eat options with a new Main Street, storefront location. "It is one more avenue to help people be healthy and to include more veggies." says Lynette of their new store. She continues, "We're here to facilitate home cooking and that comes in different forms for different people at different times in their lives. We want to feed families healthy meals while supporting the environment."

So how would they like to collaborate with others throughout the state and region? "We source regularly from a producers coop, called Western Montana Growers Coop." It works to well to give us access products we wouldn't otherwise and to receive a consistent delivery. I encourage producers who may not have distribution to consider joining the coop to open.       

Don DeSmet and Lynette Larson-DeSmet

" If you like our food - thank a farmer or rancher. - Lynette DeSmert, Food Works, Livingston, MT


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