Laura's Corner

Natural Food Guru Calls It a Day

by in News & Events September 2, 2018
Gail Lyons - Natural Food Guru
Gail Lyons, long-time owner of Simcoe Natural Foods, says customers suffering from sleeplessness and irritability report good results with CBD brand hemp seed oil. Lyons has sold the business after 31 years and has relocated to Paris. Monte Sonnenberg / Simcoe Reformer

Thirty years in the natural food and supplement business has taught Gail Lyons that everyone who comes through her door is unique.

If we were all the same, one-size-fits-all medicine would be the rule and there never would have been a business called Simcoe Natural Foods.

“Everybody is different,” Lyons said last week as she prepared to turn her business over to new management.

“What might work for me might not work for you.”

Because of our unique, individual make-up, Lyons was reluctant to comment on natural foods and supplements that have proved to be of little benefit over the years.

Some customers, she said, swear by certain products while others with similar health concerns report no effect.

On the plus side, Lyons has heard consistently positive reviews about several reliable movers in her inventory.

Customers like natural products such as oil of oregano and echinacea for boosting the immune system, omega-3 oils for cardio-vascular health, and turmeric as an all-purpose anti-inflammatory.

While each customer is unique, Lyons reports many clients resort to natural food and supplement shops because of digestive issues. Often, customers approach her after mainstream medicine has been unable to help.

That’s how Lyons got into the field in the first place.

In the mid-1980s, her infant son had chronic problems with food allergies. Doctors were stumped, so Lyons set out to find her own treatment based on trial and error.

A carefully-crafted diet low on sugars and refined ingredients eventually stabilized his condition. Lyons suspected others might benefit from her experience so she opened Simcoe Natural Foods in 1987 on Kent Street South in downtown Simcoe.

The store was relocated for a time to Norfolk Street South before relocating a third time to the Queensway West near the intersection of Park Road.

“Digestion sounds like a small thing,” Lyons said. “But it’s a vast topic. There is so much you can do in this area.”

After many years in the business, Lyons noticed a recurring theme with customers complaining of digestive problems and joint pain related to inflammation. Many of these clients, she said, have benefited from cutting wheat products from their diet.

Lyons, a nurse by training, has had her detractors over the years. Critics have come to her store and told her to her face that she is duping the public with expensive products that don’t do anything.

Lyons says critics underestimate the value of natural foods and supplements, adding she has never made extravagant claims for her merchandise.

“I did not last 31 years in this business by being dishonest,” she said. “The general public is not stupid. If natural products were a scam people would’ve figured it out by now. These products are regulated by Health Canada for goodness sake.”

Natural Food Guru Calls It a Day

Lyons and her husband relocated to Paris in July to be closer to their children. She recently sold the business to new owner Laura Maguire of Simcoe. Maguire takes the helm Sept. 1.

Maguire is a past supervisor with Sheridan Nurseries and a registered holistic nutritionist by training.

Because everyone is unique, Maguire said clients seeking solutions will discover that finding the answers is similar to “peeling away the layers of an onion.” She said wellness usually lies in the direction of multi-faceted, incremental change.

“Whatever you put in your mouth will either make you healthy or make you ill,” Maguire said.

Simcoe Natural Foods will hold a farewell open house for Lyons August 22. The event runs from 10 a.m. till 5:30 p.m. Customers, clients and members of the public are invited to attend.