June 13, 2014

Free Gluten-Free Coaching, Classes, and Resources at Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage

By Evan Sandsmark -  

If you are a Boulder resident who eats gluten-free, there is a good chance you have visited, or are at least aware of, the Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage in town, the grocery store whose prolix name sounds like a book and its author. (The store, however, is generally just called “Natural Grocers” or “Vitamin Cottage,” and in writing is often just NGVC, so the full “Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage,” vaguely bothersome because of the bizarre context in which the preposition “by” is used, is infrequently trotted out.) We are not writing this article, however, to analyze the store’s name, but rather to emphasize that NGVC is much more than anther Boulder grocery store with lots of gluten-free food. In addition to serving this function, the grocer provides services like store tours and educational sessions, and these can be of great help to those looking to live a full gastronomic life under the constraints of the gluten-free diet.

We were made aware of NGVC’s extracurricular activities when we were contacted by Helen Dohrman, one of the store’s many nutritional health coaches. She informed us that NGVC offers “free store tours, free health coaching, and free talks to the public,” which obviously sounds great, especially the “free” part, so we found out as much information about these services as we could.

NGVC’s services fall into two categories: there are those that are part of the store’s regular schedule, able to be taken advantage of whenever they are available, and there are those that you can set up yourself for a group. The first kind of services take the form of talks that happen frequently at store locations. NGVC’s health coaches, such as Dohrman, give lectures on one set topic and three varying topics each month. The best way to find out information about upcoming talks is to visit the locations section of the NGVC website. On this page, you will find a listing for whatever store location is nearest to you, and part of this listing includes a link to “events.” If you live in Boulder, you’ll probably want to attend events at the Boulder location, but obviously you can go to whatever location you want.

There are a couple of set lectures that our readers will be especially interested in. The first is the “Healthy Gluten-Free Living” talk, which is given at least once a year at every location in the Denver Metro area, including the store in Boulder. The date for this lecture is not yet set for the Boulder location, so you’ll have to check the NGVC site at a later date to see when it’s scheduled for. We’ll also try to write an announcement article for it as well to give our newsletter subscribers a heads up. Also of interest to those on the GF diet is the “Taking Gluten-Free to the Next Level – for the Holidays” talk, which is something of a companion lecture to the “Gluten-Free Living” talk and focuses on, not surprisingly, how to avoid gluten during the holiday season. Again, no information is listed about this lecture yet on the NGVC, so everything we said above applies to this talk as well, although it is safe to assume that it will probably be offered as the holidays approach. When GF talks are accompanied by tastings, all product demos are strictly gluten-free.

The other services that NGVC offer are basically catered to the individual needs of a group. NGVC will go to admirable lengths to accommodate the desires of a group of shoppers, provided there are 12 in the group so that the store deploys its resources wisely. First of all, you can arrange that a specific set talk be given at your store location. So, suppose you lived in Lafayette and have arranged a group of people who are interested in the “Healthy Gluten-Free Living” talk. Lafayette is Dohrman’s base, so you could simply contact the Lafayette store to arrange for her to give a talk there. In fact, and amazingly, the talk needn’t even be held at a NGVC location. It could be at essentially any given meet-up place, including a business or home, at least if this location is within about 30 minutes or 10 miles of Lafayette (e.g. Broomfield). We give Lafayette as our example simply because Dohrman was our point of contact, but everything we said can be applied to the Boulder location and its health coach, Diane Shepard.

The other personal service NGVC provides is a store tour, which is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with what gluten-free items are available in your local NGVC, and also to learn more general “shopping with food allergy” skills, like reading labels carefully. Like the talks, these can be arranged with whatever store you want to tour. You should simply call ahead and make a reservation. (As is the case with finding out information about upcoming events, the store locations page on the NGVC site is your best resource, where you can find contact information and addresses for stores.)

As you can see, NGVC offers some excellent services to their customers, and these services might be especially welcomed by those on the gluten-free diet given the limitations it imposes. It’s a challange to avoid gluten, but the educational opportunities like the ones offered by NGVC can make it a little easier.

Summary
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Gluten-Free Opportunities at Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage
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An overview of the various gluten-free opportunities at Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage.
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  1. Thank you for your lengthy description of our services (and especially the humorous bit on the name, even if it wasn’t meant to be). I am so glad to get the word out to your peeps – I have a feeling this will really enhance their knowledge of gluten-free shopping and the wonderful aspects of our business – all organic produce, no chemicals or antibiotics, no artificial colors or flavors, etc.

    Best,
    Helen

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