In seminars around the country, I ask independent natural products retailers if they believe their store is a distinct brand. Usually only a few raise their hands. But even if you don’t think of yourself or your store as a brand, your customers do…and I can prove it to you.

December and January aren’t just times for celebrating and making resolutions; these months are prime time for predicting the happenings of the coming year.

Harmful chemicals—you wouldn’t eat them, you wouldn’t use them on your face, so you certainly wouldn’t want to put them “down there.” As Americans are becoming more health conscious and aware about the harmful ingredients in mainstream foods and personal care items, there is also a rising concern over intimacy products. Intimacy products may be a bedroom staple, but getting your hands on the wrong kind can lead to more damage than pleasure.

During these trying economic times, more and more people have either chosen or been forced to become more involved with overseeing their own healthcare. As Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D., says on his Web site (www.doctoryourself.com), “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. This especially includes your health care.”

The Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) just finished a week-long (December 3–7) meeting in Bad Soden, a small German city near Frankfurt am Main. Nearly 300 delegates were in attendance, composed of government functionaries and international non-governmental organization (INGO) representatives. So, for one week, the assembled delegates—including the INGO delegation of the National Health Federation (NHF)—met, discussed and debated a wide number of food and food-supplement issues, including the controversial draft Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs) for vitamins and minerals.

Eureka!, we thought. We had a great idea on our hands: a brand new way for the industry to access key information at its fingertips. We brainstormed, interviewed vendors (and more vendors), hammered out the fine details and away we went into the brave new world of product development. Now, over a year later, we are pleased to bring you:

The WholeFoods Source Book Online
http://directory.wholefoodsmagazine.com

As our nation becomes savvier in the supermarket, more and more people are questioning the benefits of the food they are putting in their bodies. New on many shoppers’ radars are GMOs. Genetically engineered (GE), or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), are any plants or animals that have had their DNA altered in some unnatural way.

“The teachings of this book can save the lives of millions worldwide,” I stated on the cover of Frank Murray’s new book, Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene Are Miracle Workers. Since the early 1970s, I have had the greatest admiration for Mr. Murray, his books and his many contributions to the health industry. Murray has been a soldier in the battle to preserve the health industry and make people healthier.

Last month, WholeFoods Magazine published its largest-ever survey of independent U.S. retailers representing nearly one-million square feet and $665 million in natural products sales. Retailers large and small, from every part of the country, responded to the survey questionnaire, giving us a full and balanced view of natural food and supplement retailing in 2012.