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Market’s longevity is proof that healthy food sells PDF Print E-mail
Written by JOE POIRIER   
Wednesday, 29 November 2017 15:42

A local pioneer in the slow foods movement when it opened in 2006, Slow Pokes Local Foods is celebrating 11 years of doing business in Grafton

    In an age of ever-expanding fast food chains across the country, Slow Pokes Local Foods in Grafton is providing customers healthy alternatives for their diet.
    “Our name comes from the slow foods movement because we make everything slow like the old fashioned way,” Kathleen McGlone, owner of the store at 1229 12th Ave., said. “Everybody that comes in here is able to get really healthy, made from scratch, low-carb and organic food. Our cornbread doesn’t even have any corn in it.”
    McGlone opened Slow Pokes in 2006, when natural food was a relatively untested commodity in Ozaukee County.  
    “We’re a small local grocery store. Every piece of meat that’s in our freezer is from Wisconsin,” she said. “We have 100% grass-fed beef and bison, which can be made into pepperoni sticks, summer sausage and even hot dogs.”  
    On Friday, Dec. 1, Slow Pokes will celebrate its 11th anniversary with a holiday open house.
    “We will have pastries, pies, dips, spreads and soups,” McGlone said.  “We’ll be sampling a lot of our specialty items.”
    One of the top-selling items at the store is kefir, which is fermented coconut milk. The product is made in house and is used as a probiotic.
    “The kefir niche is definitely growing,  and I’m trying to make it accessible to as many people as possible in a form that people will consume,” McGlone said. “If you look at what kefir is, it’s sour milk, and that’s not exactly an American go-to (food).”
    Slow Pokes’ kefir is sold in 22 stores around the state, which include smaller stores that specialize in healthy foods like Beans & Barley, Good Harvest Market and Total Health Nutrition Center.
    “People are familiar with the kefir, but they might not know about the other products we sell,” McGlone said. “We have a lot of products for people who are allergic to gluten or dairy and everything else under the sun.”
    Other popular products sold at the store follow the Paleolithic diet, which has no gluten, grain, dairy or added sugars. Some of the dishes made from “paleo” ingredients include lasagna, bison meatballs, cakes and muffins.
    “About 80% of our bakery is paleo,” she said. “It’s what humanity would’ve consumed before we started farming, which would’ve been meats, fruits and nuts. It’s very simple cooking and really easy to digest.”
    According to McGlone, many consumers are hypersensitive to what they eat because of allergies and other health ailments.
    “It’s the fear of what is in their food because people have gotten so sick with food poisoning, diabetes and heart disease,” she said. “We’re growing up in a more toxic food environment and the body is inundated with a number of chemicals. I can’t control the air I breathe or the water I drink, but I can control the food I put in my body. What you eat and drink makes up who you are.”
    And McGlone is willing to fight for the ability to offer customers the best foods. In March, she and four other area residents filed a lawsuit against Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection because the state prohibits the sale of Kerrygold Irish Butter, which used to be sold at Slow Pokes.
    Kerrygold is sold in other states, but Wisconsin prohibits the sale of Irish butter made from grass-fed cows and other brands of European butter, because it has not been graded according to state criteria. 
    “I didn’t even know there was an issue until a friend came into the store and said ‘You can’t sell that butter,’” McGlone said. “I have everything from Wisconsin. But just like someone who wants a Guinness, don’t tell me I can only have a Miller Lite. I want some choices, and I want some different vitamins and minerals, and I have every right to have that.”
    In August, a judge rejected a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. McGlone said the lawsuit isn’t a personal fight but rather a way for her to protect the rights of her customers.
    “When I see people walk through my door, I feel that some part of them is ready to make some lifestyle changes,” McGlone said. “A lot of people think they are being healthy by getting various versions of food at Costco or Meijer. People will only look so far and read so much, and I think they’re overwhelmed with figuring out what’s healthy and clean and who’s lying and not lying.”

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