Because Tim Harris grew up with a “granola” for a dad, it’s not overly surprising that Harris himself has become a bit of a granola.
Or is it?
When Harris was a kid, he hated that he couldn’t indulge in sugary cereals or squishy white bread sandwiches like his friends. It was all whole-grain breads, stick-to-your-bones oats, and home-ground peanut butter in the Harris household. Much to the chagrin of the young Harris’ belly that longed for sweet treats.
And yet, years later, Harris – a proud vegan – is now the owner of Them Beans, an online whole foods shop specializing in gluten-free, dairy free, plant-based foods.
“I started to gain an appreciation for it as I grew older,” said Harris, wearing a Powered By Plants green t-shirt.
Harris is a paramedic, who has spent many hours in hospitals. He regularly works with sick people, and often revels at what a simple change in diet could do for their overall well being.
Ailments including type 2 diabetes, which is largely diet-related, cancers, and many heart attacks, can often be prevented by making healthier choices, said Harris.
“Working in the healthcare field, I see a lot of sick people that don’t need to be as sick as they are,” he said. “You just don’t know until you sit in an ER how many grotesquely sick people there are. I think as a society, we bring a lot of that sickness onto ourselves.”
Diet, he said, is the number one way to change that.
However, when Harris approached his wife about his idea for the online shop, she had reservations. She was on maternity leave with their second child at the time, knew it would be a huge investment, and wasn’t sure such a shop would fly in the Chilliwack area. But when she started attending mommy groups and listened to the moms talk about their children’s varying food allergies and special diets, she grew on the idea.
Them Beans opened in December.
A five-tiered shelving unit and two fridges in Harris’ garage are stocked full of specialty items like quinoa, whole-grain rice, gluten-free breads, pastas, natural peanut butters, granola, steel cut oats, milk alternatives, and fairly traded chocolate.
It’s a shop that caters to people who can’t have milk, or gluten, or who choose not to. And it does so without gouging the wallet.
Because Harris doesn’t have a store front, a lease, or employees, he’s able to market a lot of his product at discounted prices.
“I think grocery stores, when it comes to specialty items, gouge consumers,” he said. “And a lot of the time, when you walk into a grocery store, it’s all about label reading,” making sure you’re getting ingredients you want, and not ones you don’t want. “Whereas, when you come to me, you know you’re not getting stuff you don’t want.”
Harris believes the need for stores like Them Beans is growing. Not only are more people being diagnosed with gluten, milk, and other such allergies, but many are choosing not to eat those products for ethical reasons or as an act of being more healthy.
“I think people are becoming more aware of their health,” said Harris. “Everything went backwards for so many years, but now it’s going forward again. I think people are tired of being sick. There is so much we can do to heal ourselves with the foods we eat and our lifestyles.
“My goal is to give people options for good, healthy food.”
All foods ordered from the Them Beans website is delivered in Chilliwack by Harris.
For more information, visit the website at www.thembeans.ca, or the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Them-Beans-Whole-Foods-Grocery/245538188841235