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Ottawa’s Rainbow Foods becomes Certified Green

By Delia Carnide


Since they first opened Rainbow Natural Foods in Ottawa, ON 30 years ago, Janet and Michael Kaplan have been guided by the concepts of environmental sustainability and social responsibility.  They started the “bring your own bag” initiative long before it became fashionable and trendy, says Janet.

By Delia Carnide


Since they first opened Rainbow Natural Foods in Ottawa, ON 30 years ago, Janet and Michael Kaplan have been guided by the concepts of environmental sustainability and social responsibility.  They started the “bring your own bag” initiative long before it became fashionable and trendy, says Janet.

So, it should come as no surprise that Rainbow has become the first health food store in Canada to become Green Business Certified by the international standards of the Green Business League (GBL).

The process began in the fall of 2008 when Janet and Michael were approached by Carole Lair, president of Greenvolution Inc.  “They are certified green consultants and strategists who specialize in greening homes and businesses,” says Janet.

Although Rainbow Foods was already a leader in greening it’s business, Janet says they still had more to learn.  “Even the best athletes in the world have coaches to guide them and ensure they are performing at the top of the game.”

The Green Business Certification program begins with a business assessment/audit.  Carole, along with various experts on energy usage, came into Rainbow Foods and spent time with Janet and Michael and their staff going over current processes and practices.

Once the audit was completed, Carole sat down with Janet and Michael to go over a list of small and larger suggestions for energy savings.  “Some were as simple as putting power bars on all computer stations which would immediately save energy,” explained Janet.  “At the other end of the spectrum, there was information on putting in solar panels at a high cost which would take years to recoup.  It was a very interesting exercise.”

Because Rainbow Natural Foods had already implemented various “green practices” before the audit and were in the middle of a green renovation, they received points for these initiatives, which included more energy efficient lighting, environment-friendly marmoleum on the floors and low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint on the walls.  They gained enough points - 100 - to become a certified green business at the silver level.

The point system starts at silver (100  required) and goes to emerald (requiring 900 points) and gives businesses a chance to constantly improve and work on their “green” commitment.  “Going green is progressive.  It is not a one-time endeavour,” says Carole.  “We believe that it is a constant pursuit.  Each new practice is worth points as you move up the certification ladder.”

Typically, the certification process can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days.  In Rainbow’s case, it took approximately 45 days.  But it is not over yet.  Janet says they are in definite pursuit for the ultimate “green” – emerald level.

“Carole’s report offered many small things we could do to improve our footprint and we will be working on these over the coming year.  We hope to work our way up to the next level (gold) and keep going as far as we can.  The icing on the cake will be if we can save some money on energy costs, which will continue to rise over the next few years.”

But this entire endeavour is already paying benefits.  In January, the local CTV station contacted Janet and came in and did a story on their green certification and the initiative has inspired a good feeling for both Janet and her customers.    “As well as feeling good about getting certified and working towards the next level, our efforts are appreciated by our customers and we proudly display our certification in the store.”

Going Green Pays!

Carole Lair of Greenvolution says there are numerous benefits to businesses who pursue  Green Certification.  Here are a few:

  • Save money by reducing energy costs
  • Increase profitability by implementing green practices that lead to cost savings in energy, water and waste management.
  • Join the growing green business community
  • Enhance your marketing advantage
  • Demonstrate both community goodwill and leadership
  • Publicity and recognition (press releases)
  • Streamlined environmental assistance.
  • Improved operations through innovation
  • Use of GBL logo on marketing materials
  • Ongoing promotions through local advertising and public events.
  • Improve wellness and productivity of your employees
  • Conserve valuable resources and protect the environment

 For more information on how to attain green certification for your store, please go to:


Going even greener

Janet and Michael Kaplan, long-time leaders of innovative enviromental initiatives in the Ottawa area, proudly  accept their Green Business Certification from Carole Lair, president of Greenvolution.

HEAD: Many educational opportunities for retailers at CHFA Expo West: May 13-16, Vancouver

With the Vancouver Olympic Games pushing CHFA Expo West into a later spring date (May 13 to 16), conference organizers have had an extra few weeks to put together a strong retailer-focused education program.

Expo West, taking place in the Vancouver Convention Centre’s new West Building (above right), commences Thursday, May 13 with the annual Organic Bus Tour, which will feature the complete supply chain for organic retail.  Join organic enthusiasts for a full day of learning and fun at some of the newest businesses in the Lower Mainland that are dedicated to the manufacture, distribution and sale of organic products.  Tour stops include a manufacturer, distributor and retailer.

On Friday, May 14, retailers can attend Turbocharge Your Retail Business, presented by Roy Prevost. international speaker and retail expert, who will provide you with tactics and strategies that will help you to outmaneuver and outperform the competition.

Each attendee will receive a copy of Roy’s new book, Turbocharge Your Retail Business, a survival guide for independent retailers.  This book retails for $27.95 and is yours absolutely free when you attend this seminar.

Friday’s program includes the always popular Product Education Seminars, which provide retailers with access to the manufacturers and distributors of today’s hottest new products.  You’ll learn first hand about what’s new in the market and what the key benefits of the product are for your customers.  There will be a minimum of 25 topics covered.  Each session is 45 minutes long, allowing you to mix and match the topics to best suit your needs.

Friday will also feature Challenges and Implications of the Organic Equivalency Agreement, presented by Miles V. McEvoy, deputy administrator National Organic Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Now one year into the agreement, what have the challenges and implications been?

Friday evening, attendees can visit the Expo West Welcome Reception. Open to all registered attendees, this reception will offer refreshments and light snacks in a casual atmosphere.  CHFA staff will be on hand to answer any questions you may have.

Saturday, May 15 starts at 7:30 am with an organic breakfast, followed by CHFA’s Annual General Meeting (members only). The Expo West Trade Show follows, and runs from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Saturday evening, the CHFA Awards Reception commences at 5:30 pm and it leads into the CHFA People of Excellence Awards at 6:00 pm.  The Awards Dinner and Dance takes place immediately after from 7:00 pm to Midnight in the The Crystal Ballroom at the Pan Pacific Hotel.  Following dinner, the CHFA will present the Hall of Fame and the Organic Achievement awards.

On Sunday May 16, the trade show runs from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Complete details, pricing and registration information is available on the CHFA website at •

HEAD: Industry veteran Matt LeBeau launches LeBeau Advance sales, marketing agency

Matt LeBeau, an organic food industry veteran of 15 years,  has launched LeBeau Advance Ltd., a national sales and marketing agency.  The new firm will partner with manufacturers and branding firms to assist in brand management, sales execution, market analysis, marketing plans and many other value-added activities in the natural, organic, specialty food, HABA, and NHP categories.

Matt’s industry experience includes senior positions with  Puresource Inc., SunOpta Distribution and his involvement with the Organic Council of Ontario.  LeBeau Advance, which already has contracts with Uncle Lee’s Teas and Popcorn Indiana, is headquartered in Guelph, ON, within the Orchard Park Office Centre, a 500 acre certified organic property, which recently started an incubator unit for businesses focused on alternative and sustainable land use.  You can reach Matt at or by phone at 519/841-8155.  •

HEAD: CNHR welcomes Nicole Saltsman

CNHR Magazine has welcomed Nicole Saltsman to the sales and service team as National Account Manager.  Nicole will be working with industry manufacturers, distributors and brokers to get their important sales message out to Canada’s natural health retailers through CNHR’s many cost-effective advertising options.   Nicole brings to CNHR a marketing and business background.  Most recently, she served in a marketing capacity with the Wye Marsh, a not-for-profit wildlife conservation area in Midland, ON.  She also brings international business experience to the position, have served in a senior management support role with an international company in Toronto.  Nicole is also an accomplished photographer.

You can reach Nicole by email at or by telephone at 705/549-7081 to discuss advertising and editorial opportunities.  •

HEAD: Helen Sherrard joins CHFA as director of operations

The Canadian Health Food Association board of directors has named Helen Sherrard to the newly created position of director of operations for the CHFA.  Helen brings strong relationships with many industry members, CHFA staff and CHFA contractors, and will bring consistency from having worked with the CHFA board for the past nine years. Through her close affiliation with the board, the strategic planning process and the past three CHFA leaders, as well as her previous experience in both the corporate and not for profit sectors, Helen has the knowledge needed to contribute to the CHFA’s growth.  Her major responsibilities will include overseeing and managing the office, general operations, membership and communications.  Helen can be reached at or at 800/661-4510 ext. 240.

HEAD: MAK Moran Co. joins St. Francis sales team

Due to expansion and anticipated growth of its line, St.Francis Herb Farm has obtained the services of the MAK Moran Co. for nationwide account representation.  Mary Anne K. Moran is no stranger to our industry. Her experience spans more than two decades. She has held positions with such companies as Beverly Hills Weight Loss Clinics, GNC, Axel Kraft, and also served as Canadian director of education and communication for Garden of Life.  •

HEAD: Natural Factors website for both consumers, retailers

Natural Factors’ completely revamped website – – has been attracting consistent consumer and retailer traffic since its launch in Fall 2009.  Both English and French sites have great new features to make it easier for consumers to learn about natural health products, and the retailer-only portion of the website offers many convenient new options to make life easier for retailers, including comprehensive downloadable product images and support material, information on current promotions, inventory sheets and price lists, and on-line ordering.  •

HEAD: Genuine Health names new president

Romeo Catracchia has joined Genuine Health Inc. as the company’s new president. “Romeo comes to our business with the experience needed to navigate today’s evolving natural health marketplace,” said Stewart Brown, CEO of Genuine Health. “His outstanding track record of building high-performance organizations, improving operational efficiency and managing growth, combined with his strategic insights and emphasis on customer service will be a key asset in driving our continued success.”  •

HEAD: Steve Thompson joins Renew Life

Steve Thompson has joined Renew Life Canada as vice president of sales.  Steve brings significant senior industry sales management experience to the position.  Most recently, he served in a senior sales management capacity with Genuine Health.  You can reach Steve at 800/485-0960 ext 1019 or by email at


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