BEIRUT: Healthy Basket, an initiative that started from an AUB student project to a standing local shop today, is backed by an inspiring story.
The initiative began in 2001 with the aim to change conventional farming methods, but no one could anticipate its success. In 2016, Healthy Basket lost its funding from multiple sponsors.
“A couple of colleagues and myself decided to invest and buy it from AUB,” said Ramy El Helo, the current owner of Healthy Basket. “It would have been a shame to lose something this important, especially in Lebanon where there is little to no awareness on organic foods.”
It started as a store for organic fruits and vegetables, then El Helou decided to invest in a separate store for juices and snacks. By 2020, El Helou hopes to incorporate the two visions into one shop.
“We decided it would be best if we showed people how much organic foods can help, while also keeping our menu vegan and gluten-free,” he told Annahar. “Not only can customers walk into either of the shops and grab something, but we also deliver baskets filled with goods to many parts of Lebanon,” he added.
Each day is specialized for a location in Lebanon. On Mondays, they deliver to Beirut, on Tuesdays to the mountains and Beirut’s suburbs, on Wednesdays to Bchamoun and Khalde, on Thursdays to Metn and its surroundings, and finally, on Friday to North Lebanon.
So, what are the options? Healthy Basket has a variety of menu goodies; all organic, vegan and gluten-free. Various types of cakes, smoothies, juice, ice cream and many more could be found throughout the menu. Not only do their stores encourage a healthy lifestyle, but they also promote this lifestyle on their social media platform.
Healthy Basket maintains a lot of regular customers that are aware of the benefits of maintaining a nutritious lifestyle. One of these regulars is Sarah El Abd, a student at AUB.
“Throughout the first weeks of my first semester, I was grabbing cheap fast food options, but it never satisfied my appetite and I would eat multiple times a day,” said El Abd. “After that, I started to pick up a healthy smoothie from Healthy Basket in the morning to kick off my day. It gives me the same boost caffeine would, and it is also a great breakfast that keeps me full and satisfied until lunchtime,” she added.
By the end of 2019, another branch of Healthy Basket is set to open in Hazmieh, and El Helou has signed a deal with a major supermarket that allows them to function inside it.
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