TEMPLE TERRACE — Chuck Homuth’s decision to change the name of his healthful living business involves more than altering the signs on his two stores located in Temple Terrace and Brandon to Chuck’s Natural Fields Market. He says growing up on a Minnesota farm ties into his purchase of 50 acres of land east of Bushnell for growing organic crops to sell to his customers.
“I learned how things grow and experienced being in touch with that,” he said.
A desire to experience big-city living in a warmer climate brought him to the Tampa Bay area, where a part-time job in a health food store eventually led him to opening his Temple Terrace store in 1992. He expanded with a Brandon location in 1998. Both stores sell nutritional supplements and organic food.
“I wanted to take the business to the next level, and there’s a trend toward supporting local, small farmers,” he said. “People really want to know where their food’s coming from.”
Because it is a long process to certify farmland so crops grown on it can carry the “organic” label, Homuth is building a greenhouse he hopes will yield his first harvest sometime this year.
Besides supplying his stores’ produce sections, Homuth will serve what he grows in his stores’ cafes and delis, which feature salads, soups, sandwiches and smoothies as well as gourmet pizza.
Don Akright is the cafe manager at the Temple Terrace store and expresses enthusiasm and a sense of purpose as he combines nutritiously rich ingredients for lunchtime diners.
“I’m in it to win it, as far as health is concerned,” he said. “I deliver health directly to people.”
It’s a sentiment his co-worker Angeline del Pilar shares.
“My purpose here is to help people understand nutritional healing,” she said.
Nutritional supplements make up a big part of the inventory at Chuck’s Natural Fields Market. Homuth, who is a Florida licensed nutritional counselor, takes care in choosing his suppliers and stands by the products he sells.
“I’ve visited their facilities. They have their own lab technicians to test the materials and if there’s contaminants or the potency is not up to par, they send them back,” he said.
The idea of eating organic foods and taking dietary supplements has become more mainstream in recent years with greater public acceptance leading to industry growth. While many consumers may consider shopping at a health food store an unnecessary or luxury expense, Homuth suggests that it can be a wise choice.
“It seems like it’s costly upfront, but it’s an investment in your future in terms of medical expenses and health in the future,” he said. “A lot of the great thinkers in the past have said, ‘food is your medicine.’”
When it comes to shopping for supplements, Homuth says the cheapest brand may not be a great bargain after all.
“You get what you pay for,” he added.