At Food Farmacy, the Adventist health message is alive and well. It’s used to promote wellness and healing in the community in a delicious, Instagrammable way.
Based in Cardiff, near Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, the plant-based, decaffeinated-only cafe opened in November 2021 with a clear mission to educate, connect and transform people to healthier optimal.
From photogenic wellness bowls to energizing, chemical-free hot and cold healing beverages, Food Farmacy champions the belief that food is medicine and challenges the stigma of decaf among coffee lovers. More than that, it also supports local farmers and producers, educates the community, helps people improve their health and reverse lifestyle diseases.
The project is the brainchild of North New South Wales Conference health director Camila Skaf, who has run health promotion and lifestyle medicine programs in the region since moving to Newcastle in 2016.
“I wanted to create a space for learning, sharing and ultimately being a hub for the community to come together every day to grow together. So I dreamed of a cafe and a wellness center -being that would house all of this,” she said.
The dream took five years to become a reality. The two biggest challenges: finding the right team and raising enough funds. “Raising funds for a whole new concept – a plant-based, whole-food cafe that serves only anti-inflammatory beverages, meaning no caffeinated coffee – was the real challenge. was prepared to finance this “risky” initiative.
The brave person who bought into the idea was ATUNE Health Centers founder and CEO Simon Ashley, who came in contact with the Adventist health message through the books of Ellen G. White.
“When we met Simon he shared that he was investing in a new clinic in Cardiff to serve the whole region with integrated care, and that after reading Ellen White’s health books he wanted to partner with Adventists to share the full health message. we are all concerned. He invited us to open a cafe and wellness center on the ground floor of his new clinic and we started working on a business plan,” Skaf said.
As an integral part of the clinic, the cafe concept was developed around the idea that ATUNE patients could be prescribed healing foods or health enhancement programs offered by the cafe. Skaf explains that this concept was the basis of the name Food Farmacy, “and the choice of spelling ‘Farmacy’ with ‘Farmhouse’ refers to our concept of eating whole, seasonal foods from farmers, as local as possible.”
Considered risky by many, the decision to make Food Farmacy a caffeine-free cafe was one of the fundamentals of the business plan. “We know caffeine has side effects and causes long-term health damage, and we wanted a place that served 100% healing drinks,” Skaf said.
After much research, the cafe chose to include a healthier coffee alternative: decaffeinated. Coffee served at Food Farmacy goes through the Swiss Water process, which can gently remove caffeine from coffee beans using water, temperature and time. It is free of residual processing chemicals or flavors.
“I wasn’t going to serve decaffeinated coffee unless it could deliver the same taste experience as real coffee, without chemicals or fake additives.” After purchasing the highest quality grinder and espresso machine on the market, Skaf claims that they have “become the best decaffeinated coffee in the region! »
Serving locally roasted organic coffee in small batches and freshly ground on site, Food Farmacy offers a beverage that even coffee lovers won’t recognize as decaf.
“There is significant evidence that people consume too much caffeine, which is detrimental to health. Here we offer a healing alternative, and it still tastes like the real deal,” Skaf said.
Beyond Healthy Meals
With the vision of being a wellness center, Food Farmacy is no ordinary plant-based cafe. It is a center of strategic influence that relies on the collaboration of a core team of health and wellness professionals who contribute to the programs, workshops and health clubs that operate in the cafe to support and educate the community. .
An important member of the core team is Brazilian nurse Diana Dias. Drawing on her extensive experience in lifestyle medicine as the former head nurse of the Health Living Center (CEVISA) – a medical educational spa run by the São Paulo-based Seventh-day Adventist Church in Brazil – Dias is responsible for coordinating programs and health clubs at Food Farm.
Currently, three evening health programs are running: CHIP (Comprehensive Health Improvement Program) is organized regularly on Wednesdays by a team consisting of a doctor, a nutritionist, a nurse and a chief ; Lift – also known as Live More – focused on mental health with a holistic approach, is run once a week by a team that includes a counselor who offers focus group support; and the most recent program, Enhance Your Gut Health, which began October 17, 2022, focuses on the digestive system and is managed with the help of a nutritionist.
There are also two active health clubs: the Tuesday Cooking Club teaches participants how to make easy and delicious plant-based foods; and every Friday morning the walking group motivates people to move and exercise together.
Food Farmacy also partners with other local community businesses to host lifestyle workshops such as Simplified Sourdough Bread by Living Loaf (Janelle House) on Sundays. The long-term plan is to have something for everyone, seven days a week. “We would like to have more leaders and volunteers to deliver ELIA Wellness programs, Nedley mental health programs, and constantly innovate to meet the needs of the community,” Skaf said.
Even though Dias has seen many lives transformed through lifestyle medicine during his career, seeing the results of these programs in ATUNE patients and community members still amazes him.
For example, Lisa achieved great results. She has diabetes, heard about CHIP and took the program at the cafe. “She traveled once a week for nine months from the central coast, but it was worth it because after the program her GP informed her that her fatty liver problem was resolved, her cholesterol level was balanced and that his diabetes was in remission!” said Dias. Now Lisa attends their weekly health club.
“People come with the simple goal of having a healthy meal, but they end up leaving with way more than they came for,” Dias said.
With a committed team, the cafe’s mission is to meet the health needs of the community with a unique and holistic approach to each person who enters.
“The World Health Organization describes health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not simply the absence of disease or infirmity’. And that’s what we seek to provide at Food Farmacy,” Dias said.
The original version of this story was published on Adventist Registry.