Follow Your Heart and Non-GMO Project

When it comes to your food, we at Follow Your Heart® believe it is important to provide you with delicious, healthy, and environmentally-conscious choices. In an effort to promote that philosophy, we have registered with the Non-GMO Project. The Non-GMO Project is an independent non-profit collaboration of manufacturers, retailers, processors, distributors, farmers, and seed companies coming together to create more transparency about GMOs in food. You have probably heard of GMOs before, but what are they anyway? Aren’t Follow Your Heart products already non-GMO?

What are GMOs?

GMOs are “genetically modified organisms.” These organisms have been created through gene-splicing and other biotechnological techniques. There are many restrictions on GM foods and some countries have banned them completely. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows GM foods into the marketplace if they have been tested and deemed safe, but manufacturers are allowed to test the products themselves and there is no independent third party checking on the safety of these items or their long-term effects. This has caused great concern amongst many consumers. This is where the Non-GMO Project steps in.

What does the non-GMO Project do?

The Non-GMO Project creates a standardized definition of what non-GMO means and creates a system to verify this standard being met for the foods it verifies. Participation in the program is voluntary.

Are Follow Your Heart® products non-GMO?

For Follow Your Heart® brand products, we require non-GMO verification from our ingredient suppliers and most of our major retail products are already labeled non-GMO. We have decided to participate in the project in order further verify the non-GM status of our ingredients and to more clearly designate our products as non-GMO on the labels. We believe it is vital that our customers feel completely secure in the integrity of our products. Some Follow Your Heart products already carry the “Non-GMO Project Verified” Seal and we expect our remaining products to display the seal as they move through the Project’s evaluation process.

What does the verified seal mean?

Once a product has been certified by the Non-GMO Project, a “Non-GMO Project verified seal” is placed on the product. Due to the prevalence of GM farming, a 100% non-GMO standard is unfeasible, but the Non-GMO Project requires that all ingredients in a verified product contain less than 1% GM content. This is the current EU standard for non-GMO. According to the project, “the seal means a product has been produced according to rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance, including testing of risk ingredients.” The Non-GMO Project requires strict traceability and segregation practices from the farm to the manufacturer. It verifies these standards by requiring documentation, audits, and ongoing laboratory GMO testing of high-risk ingredients.
Have more questions about how it all works? To learn more about the project, participating retailers and the non-GMO seal, please go to http://www.nongmoproject.org/. For a list of Follow Your Heart’s® Non-GMO Project verified products, click here.

The Follow Your Heart Oasis

There is only one Follow Your Heart. It is a unique environment which has been called by some ‘an oasis’. While at first glance it may appear to be just another health food store, Follow Your Heart  has been thriving for over three decades with the support of the many thousands of loyal customers who keep coming home to “The Heart.”

Situated in a half-century-old building which once housed a small neighborhood store and butcher shop, the market is far from a modern supermarket. Yet, within it, one can find just about anything to be found in much larger natural food stores, and something more.

While offering a wide array of products, one thing which is noticeably absent from the store is meat. Since its origin, the founders of Follow Your Heart chose not to sell meat, poultry or fish, in order to be consistent with their personal vegetarian beliefs. Rather than being a negative, this unconventional feature of the store is seen by many (especially vegetarians) as something which makes their shopping experience all the more pleasurable.
The popular restaurant within the store has always been a focal point of the attention that Follow Your Heart  has received. Well known as a vegetarian landmark in southern California since 1970, it has served not only the local community, but visitors from all over the world who have come to “The Heart” after hearing of it by word of mouth.

In addition to the restaurant, you will find the usual departments of produce, grocery (dry goods and perishables), as well as nutrition and natural body care, each having its particular Follow Your Heart  character. Our extensive selection of gifts and interesting books is just one more feature which sets the store apart from the ordinary. As in our other departments, our buyers go to great lengths to find those special items that our customers have come to expect from us, all in an effort to truly serve the unique interests of our patrons.

Finally, but most importantly, there is the Follow Your Heart  staff. When we hire someone to work at Follow Your Heart, we are looking for people who will carry on the traditions that the store is famous for. Today, we have moved on to a second generation. Many of the young people working in the store were preceded by their parents, who themselves were either long time customers or employees. People often ask us how we find such wonderful people. The answer? They are drawn to “The Heart.” Come, we welcome you, and invite you to experience for yourself what Follow Your Heart  is all about.

Follow Your Heart Celebrates 40

By: Bob & Paul

The year 1970 saw a great deal of change for many of us. We (Bob and Paul) were in the process of beginning a new life in Los Angeles, having recently arrived from the Midwest in pursuit of the California Dream. At the same time, another set of friends, Michael Besancon and Bill Michaels, were on an adventure of their own. They were hitchhiking up to Mount Shasta, believed to be a focal point for spiritual energy, with the intention of meditating and hopefully finding, in Michael’s words, “some direction for my life”. The two were given a lift by people from the Arcata Food Co-op, also on their way to Shasta to attend a meeting of an organization called OM, (Organic Merchants) a collection of folks from Northern California who ran natural food co-ops. Inspired by what he heard at the conference, Michael returned to Canoga Park, and within two weeks, he had opened a small vegetarian lunch counter in the back of a 1300 square foot health food store known as Johnny Weissmuller’s American Natural Foods. The store was on Owensmouth Avenue, near Sherman Way, not far from our apartment. We stopped in often for the good food and the good vibes. Regulars referred to the place affectionately as Johnny’s, and its popularity grew rapidly. Within the first year, more help was needed. Having plenty of time on our hands, we signed on to help Michael, and were soon joined by another friend of his, Spencer Windbiel. Soon, our vision became clear, and the die was cast. We formed a partnership, bought the store, and Follow Your Heart was born.

So much has happened since those early days. It’s a wonderful story. And as we look back upon those years, it is clear that the story of Follow Your Heart is really the individual stories of the thousands of employees, customers and friends who have passed through this place over the past four decades.

Now during our 40th year anniversary, we are moved to reflect upon the amazing and rich culture which has grown out of that early vision we shared. This year we are planning many special events to celebrate what has come to be known as “The Heart”.

Today, as the remaining two founders, we have the great pleasure of getting to hear people share their anecdotes and reflections about the part this simple gathering place has played in their lives. You might have noticed the faded old photo board in the front of the store which asks “How Long Have You Shopped at Follow Your Heart?” Years ago, we decided to put this up, since it was so common for people to tell us how long they had been coming. It was a way for us to honor them and their contributions. After a while, it became kind of a fixture, but now, as part of this celebration, we want to expand that simple photographic history of the people who made Follow Your Heart, and are inviting you to share with us your memories from this forty year period.

A sentiment we often hear expressed is that Follow Your Heart is so much more than a place to merely purchase goods or grab lunch. There is an inexplicable energy in and around this space which seemingly has the power to transform in a most positive way. Here, people have met the love of their life. They have brought their newborns for their first outing. Some have found life-altering inspiration, and others have come of age. Often, we have sought the comfort of good food and caring souls, and so many have come together in joy with friends.
You have told us your stories over the years. Now, we are asking you if you would be willing to share them in a more public way. We appreciate you all so much for what you have created here. As part of this celebration, we want everyone to see how the collective stories of each of you have come together to weave the fabric of Follow Your Heart’s history and culture. Let us put your memories on display as part of our story in a way that will help us all to see the true nature of our interconnectedness, our Oneness. We feel it. We have always felt it. This is an opportunity for us to put it together for all to see and enjoy in a common experience.

If you are interested, please, send us your stories, photos, clippings and memorabilia. We will be happy to accept anything you wish to offer, via e-mail at marketcafe@followyourheart.com, or addressed to the store at 21825 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, CA 91303. Better yet, bring them in and let us take your picture to add to our collection. Any questions you have can be addressed either by e-mail or you can stop into the Follow Your Heart office for information about this project.

Thank you again for all that you have done to make Follow Your Heart a place which we are proud to say we are a part of.

Peace, Bob and Paul