The 2017 New York Food Scene

Perelandra Natural Food Center

Address: 175 Remsen St., Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone Number: (718) 855-6068
Hours Of Operation: Mon-Sun 8 am – 10 pm
Type Of Cuisine: Organic Produce

Perelandra Natural Foods

Photos by Kimberly Mufferi

Perelandra Natural Food Center was founded in 1976 by Steven Hoose, a self-described “child of the Sixties” who was drawn to the Buddhist concept of right livelihood, or working in a profession that does no harm and preferably does something good. He spent summers working at his father’s variety store, so he knew the retail business, and he settled on a natural food store as his way to make a positive difference in the world.

Forty-one years later, “we’ve really stayed true to his vision of offering the best quality food,” says Allison Buckingham, who has co-owned the store with Roland Auer since 2010. “That’s something that really sets us apart. As Whole Foods tries to garner more mainstream shoppers, we differentiate ourselves by really focusing on quality, local and organic foods.”

The 4,000 square foot Brooklyn store is Perelandra’s only location. Everything on its shelves, from the produce to the grocery items, are organic and contain no artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colors or products not found in nature. Buckingham is a licensed nutritionist and evaluates everything that comes through the store’s doors, which is another thing that makes it unique.

The produce department contains fruits, vegetables and some tie-in products such as salad dressing and fermented vegetable products. “Probably 70 percent of the produce is local in the summer,” says Buckingham. That number is quite smaller in the winter, but the store is still able to source things such as greens and cruciferous vegetables from the Finger Lakes region. Because everything has to be organic, Perelandra is somewhat limited in the types of produce it can offer. But Buckingham says they do get some exotic items such as fresh turmeric, dragon fruit, and monstera deliciosa.

Perelandra Natural FruitThe produce manager does all of the purchasing and works with five or six different distributors to acquire their food. “We have unusually high standards for the products we sell,” Buckingham says. “What we sell is really, really fresh.” The store gets deliveries six days a week, and a dedicated staff member spends most of the day refreshing the products on the shelves.

All of the department’s signage is made in-house. “We have templates we use,” says Buckingham. “As we change prices, we print and laminate them ourselves.” There’s a large produce case that houses most items. Dry items, including apples, tropical fruit, tomatoes, and avocados have their own Euro tables and shelves.

Perelandra has always had a juice bar that utilized fresh produce from the department. There’s also a kitchen that pulls vegetables from the produce department for dishes prepared daily. These departments show off the best of what produce is offering at any given point in time. Otherwise, the store doesn’t do much to promote its food. Buckingham says they don’t really need to.

“It’s pretty unusual to have exclusively certified organic produce,” she points out, and that makes the store a destination for a growing number of consumers.

“People tell me regularly that they come in here because they trust what’s on our shelves,” she adds. “As corporations dominate our food supply more and more, it feels like a really important calling to be able to offer an alternative to the corporate food culture.”