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Biz satisfies clients’ healthy appetites

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If you really are what you eat, then Larry Love, co-owner of Health Conscious Natural Foods in Laurelton, is looking for customers who are organic produce, soy milk and herbs.

Love, who opened the health food store at 231-22 Merrick Blvd. with his family five years ago, caters to people who are looking to eat better by incorporating organic and vegetarian foods into their diets, he said.

“What’s happening is that you have people wanting to live healthier lives,” he said. “It’s true. You are what you eat.”

Love, a Laurelton resident, decided to open the store after he grew tired of trekking to Manhattan to get the foods he was looking for, he said.

“I’ve been eating naturally for about 30 years,” Love said. “This started with my wanting to supply myself with natural foods and not have to go to Manhattan to do so.”

Health Conscious began by selling organic produce and groceries but soon expanded to offer hot vegetarian meals, fresh juices, natural health and beauty supplies and more, he said.

“We deal with anything that is natural — food, cosmetics, all that,” he said. “We started with the intention of just selling groceries and produce, and the other parts just started after that.”

At first there was a small group of people who started shopping there after another health food store near the Belt Parkway shut its doors, Love said.

“We did have a small consumer base when we opened,” he said. “There was one health store on the Conduit that closed, so customers came from there.”

But business has been growing ever since, he said.

“People come from all over,” Love said. “They take the bus from the Bronx; they call and ask for directions from Corona. I can’t believe there’s not a health food store up there, but I’m not going to argue.”

In addition to hot food and produce, Health Conscious sells herbs, vitamins and supplements to help customers mitigate conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and even cancer. The herbal remedies can also cure some of these conditions, he said.

“Medicine, after all, started with herbs before they started with the synthetic stuff,” he said. “For just about every problem, there’s a natural solution. People do get results.”

The herbs line a wall in the store, held in large glass jars with hand-written labels. The store’s employees scoop the herbs and spices out by the ounce for customers, which is one of the store’s advantages over chain nutrition stores, Love said.

“They don’t specialize in herbs,” he said. “They don’t sell them loose like we do. People like that they’re less processed. They can mix their own teas if they want.”

Among the shop’s biggest sellers are the health and beauty items, Love said. He offers toiletry products that fit into an organic and vegetarian lifestyle, including vegetable-based soaps and toothpaste without sugar or fluoride, he said.

“It’s hard to believe, but they make toothpaste with sugar to improve the flavor,” Love said. “You’re always told that candies are bad for you and not to eat sugar before bed, but there’s sugar in the toothpaste.”

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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