Jasen Moore had long wanted to open a little neighborhood shop that would be a hub for the community.
"I've always kind of felt like I wanted to be like on Cheers, you know the guy in the corner store that everybody talks to," he says. He's proprietor of Moore Corner Store in Wanamaker, along with his wife, Sara.
The natural food store is an expression of more than a Cheers fantasy. The couple is committed to changing the way people eat. Located just down the street from their home, the shop is a microcosm of Indiana's locavore movement. "All Natural, Local, Sustainable" reads the sign outside, and the Moores deliver on that promise.
The tiny storefront is crammed with high-quality goods the couple has personally vetted. Most products are from Indiana and surrounding states. The cash register's display reads "KNOW YOUR FARMERS" in green block letters, testifying to the store's mission - to put local, nutritious food back on the plates of Hoosiers.
A small bulk section abuts a display of handcrafted personal care products, candles, and herbal treatments. Deeper into the store are found products from Moody Meats, U-Relish, Greenfield Cookie Dough Company, Husk and other standouts of the local food scene.
Produce has been a trickier matter; the store opened in September, just as the growing season was winding down. Though the winter has meant turning to other sources, Jasen expects to carry mostly local produce starting this spring.
In the meantime, he rhapsodizes about Wildflower Ridge raw honey and Deep Pockets empanadas with the passion of a gastronome. He raves about the Bourbon barrel-aged soy sauce and vanilla made in small batches by Kentucky company Bourbon Barrel Foods.
And don't get him started on how much better LocalFolks Foods ketchup is than the national brands. If the taste isn't convincing enough, he might invite you to consider the fact that those other brands of ketchup are laced with high-fructose corn syrup made from genetically modified corn. LocalFolks' products are cane juice-sweetened.
Though Jasen had always been drawn to herbs and natural healing, in recent years access to food-related documentaries opened his eyes. The couple began taking a closer look at the economic, environmental, and social problems related to the industrial food system.
Monsanto's grip on the food supply is a particular worry, but as he'll tell you, the whole system is a mess. "That's why we have the store, to give people access to local, nutritious food, with no chemicals, no colorings. It's not necessary."
"Why are we getting stuff from China and Mexico? We've got all this land right here and people with no jobs." He's proud of supporting the local economy and minimizing carbon footprint, while providing real food to customers.
But the realities of a new venture mean they both work other jobs for the time being. Jasen drives a cab 80 hours a week, while Sara works retail, keeping weekends free to run the store, which is open Thursday through Saturday. It means a full life, especially with two daughters at home, but as Jasen puts it, "I'm here to serve the community, as much as I'm here to make money."
"I'm interested in educating people on things they don't normally eat." When Hoosier Microgreens' Alex Sulanke stops by with samples, Moore tosses back the arugula, mustard, kale, and radish sprouts with obvious pleasure and vows to spread the word about their flavor and nutritional punch.
"The concept of a health food store is bizarre to me," he says, between mouthfuls of microgreens. "What is a food store, if not a health food store? What is food if not for your health?"