Harmonie Nature is an organic grocery store located in Lille where we offer Oé organic wines . We decided to introduce you to Raphaël , to tell you more about the beautiful story of this family grocery store and the values it supports. By bike Simone!
Can you tell us about Harmonie Nature in a few words?
“ Harmonie Nature is an organic store created in 1998, with only organic, local and short-circuit products . It was my parents who created the store more than 20 years ago. We are a family business both in our history and also in our way of acting: we are a big “family” of 10 people”.
What was the trigger for your parents to create the store?
"It was a mixture of personal convictions, a look at the world of conventional agriculture in which my father worked before creating his company, and in particular the consequences that conventional agriculture has on the health of producers and consumers.
In 1998, my parents made a life choice. They were very pioneering, even visionary, because at the time there weren't many organic stores like Harmonie Nature . The organic sector was not developed in the same way: there was the organic label but the demand was not as strong as today.
When did you join the adventure?
“I joined the adventure by chance because I had to replace my dad who had a serious skiing accident a year and a half after the store opened. I was in business school in the United States and took a ticket to go home and take care of the store. I was 20 at the time. It was not planned at all. I was quite far from all that, and since then I'm still here. I've had a long journey since then.”
Now that we've talked about what drives you on a daily basis, can you tell us more about yourself?
“I am 43 years old, I am married and I have two children. From a personal point of view, we try to have a daily life that is very focused around sustainable consumption , homemade . We buy local (and not just for food) and we are careful not to waste or throw away anything. We are not inventing much, we are just bringing up to date what our grandparents put in place .”
There are echoes of the waste generated by bulk. What do you think ?
“You always have to have a critical mind on the “ one says that ” and on the studies that are put in front of you. What is certain is that bulk generates waste . The products do not arrive without packaging. But they remain less if we compare to stores that do not practice bulk.
We have set up a recycling circuit for the packaging in which our products arrive. All our plastics and bags generated by bulk are collected and then recycled. They go to a recycling channel where the plastic is transformed into shavings or granules then reinjected into the production of new plastic objects. Organic bulk manufacturers are increasingly offering reusable packaging. Kraft bags are better recycled and can have a second life in the grocery store, either for customers or for another packaging use. We choose the most ecological containers possible.
Objectively speaking, the packaging quantity of a product in bulk is less important than the same product packaged in small packages. Anyway, there is a certain logic of bulk consumption. When you go into bulk, you completely rethink the way you approach shopping, such as reusing jars of jams, green beans or any other product to then store seeds or starches in bulk. You can also reuse bulk bags so that you no longer buy them or make them with recycled fabric. For example, my two boys learned to sew from their grandmother and they love it!”
What makes you different from other organic stores?
“We recently challenged ourselves to clearly define our mission and what we wanted for our clients. I think we stand out by being a very human point of sale, committed and rooted in its territory. We are also and above all a real place of life where we favor organic, local and short circuit. We operate like a local grocery store with a great offer of local products, zero waste, and we are in a spirit of solidarity.
The four things that really drive us with the team are organic and good for all , eating well , consuming well and living well together .”
How did you come to the setpoint?
“We are in the north, close to the Belgian border. As a result, we have always made the deposit thanks to the good Belgian beer (laughs!). And now, French brewers in the region are getting into it. It is very important for us that all the bottles can be reused .
We also had the arrival of Jean Bouteille 5 years ago. We wanted to beef up our zero waste approach by offering bulk water, bulk oil and vinegar, bulk hygiene (shower and shampoo), bulk groceries... And to push the concept further, we put set up a jar exchange that allows you to collect empty containers for free in the store to do your shopping in bulk.
For 5 years, we have had an educational philosophy with regard to our customers , to make them aware of not throwing away what is of value, contrary to what the consumer industry has always instilled in us. The deposit is a common sense logic that is part of a zero waste approach. We were missing the consigned wine, and now it's done with Oé! ”
How do you help your community to consume better and engage?
“We have a shared blog on which everyone can post “ Do It Yourself ”, cooking recipe ideas or household products . The idea is for our community to pull each other up and exchange the best ideas.”
If you have any questions for Raphaël, or if you have suggestions for grocery stores, restaurants and wine merchants to offer Oé organic wines, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org !