For over forty years, Commisso’s Fresh Foods has helped guide Niagara families on the path to better health and wellness; one that starts at the grocery cart. This one-stop shop houses one of the largest varieties of quality foods, alternative dietary products, premium organic body care and natural supplements under one roof. And with a highly trained, approachable and educated staff, shoppers are never left questioning a product ever again.

Proudly serving Niagara since 1962, the Commisso family has always taken into consideration the lifestyles of their shoppers while stocking their shelves. With the apparent challenge of healthy eating in mind, they developed a new marketing concept in 2010 to address consumer needs – filling the niche in the region and transitioning into an all-encompassing market inspired store.

“Health and beauty starts from the inside,” said Terri Commisso. “Everyone is dealing with some form of health issue and everyone wants to improve their health. More and more people are gluten free, vegan, have dietary concerns and are starting to use supplements and powders wanting to live better and longer lives.

“In Niagara there aren’t many places where you can buy these specialty products and supplements along with your healthy foods, vegetables and good quality meats; especially all while gaining advice from qualified professionals. We have supplied all of this under one roof.”

Choosing the healthy route does not mean you will forgo variety; items include made in house sushi, salads, fresh sandwiches and pizzas [both with gluten free options] and plenty of premade meals, dressings and soups perfect for taking home and popping in the oven to feed the whole family. They even offer a wide selection of clean smoothies that can be custom crafted with real fruit and vegetables, dairy-free alternatives and boosting additions like high quality protein powders, whey and vegan powders and matcha green tea.

Along with their prepared meal options, Commisso’s features an extensive grocery section containing both conventional and alternative products to accommodate every dietary concern and lifestyle. Their shelves are stocked high with vegan cheese spreads, lentil pastas, natural nut spreads and every product in between. And unlike big box stores that contain their natural products to a single section, all products are interworked together as to better educate shoppers on alternative products.

“The natural and unconventional sections [in traditional stores] are generally separate from their regular produce,” said Commisso. “We are different in the fact that we try to integrate the products together all throughout the store to make it more easy accessible to people while they shop.”

In store Registered Holistic Nutritionists Louise Breton and Rebecca VanderMaarel believe it is this intertwining of products that is helping consumers make smarter shopping choices.

“You may be going to purchase traditional pasta but then see lentil pasta and bean pasta right next to it and products you didn’t even know existed,” said VanderMaarel. “It encourages consumers to try new products that may be the healthier alternative.”

The health and beauty department also hosts an extensive collection of clinically researched natural and vegan supplements, protein powders, beauty supplies, skin care products, essential oils and probiotics.

Commisso said they are constantly bringing new products into the store and evaluating what the consumer wants and needs to keep products fresh.

But what really sets this store ahead of the rest is their highly knowledgeable and educated staff who are always willing to help a customer in order to better enhance and improve their shopping experience amongst new and unknown products – even going as far as to offer store tours to individuals with dietary concerns.

“Our staff really cares about helping people improve their health,” said Commisso. “Our customer service is one of the main benefits of shopping here.”

Both VanderMaarel and Breton are available daily to answer customer questions and highly recommend consumers do so to better understand and educate themselves on which products are right for their diets instead of going with the products that may currently be in vogue.

“It can be very overwhelming walking into one of these departments as a regular consumer,” said Breton. “People come to us with all kinds of questions and health concerns and we try our best to work with them to find the product that best suits their needs. We are constantly being educated and updated on the products we carry so we are able to guide consumers. It’s easier than looking at 15 different protein powders and trying to decide which to choose on your own.”

Commisso’s also offers in store educational seminars and health programs throughout the year open to the community. On top of their in house staff, Commisso’s also hosts naturopathic doctors most Saturdays during their Ask the Expert event and seminars with representatives from companies  in the region.

By Gabrielle Tieman