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posted: 4/30/2014 2:17 PM

Open house at Soup to Nuts celebrates 35 years

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  • JR Carmany is an owner of Soup to Nuts Alternative Grocery in Geneva, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary with an open house Saturday, May 3.

      JR Carmany is an owner of Soup to Nuts Alternative Grocery in Geneva, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary with an open house Saturday, May 3.
    Jeff Knox | Staff Photographer

Submitted by Soup To Nuts

Thirty-five years ago, a Geneva woman established a natural food co-op on the front porch of her James Street home where she would divide deliveries for participants.

Soup to Nuts Alternative Grocery Store was born.

From these humble roots grew a full-service health store that now boasts a wide assortment of organic food, vitamins, an organic cafe and a holistic healing center.

Soup to Nuts will celebrate this milestone Saturday, May 3, with an anniversary celebration from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 716 W. State St., Geneva. The event will feature samples of the store's most popular products, special discounts on merchandise, chair massages, giveaways, and specials at the store's SweetGrass Cafe.

This "mom and pop" establishment has built its reputation on offering nutritional and natural health information and personal attention, including dairy-free, organic and gluten-free foods for people with chemical and food sensitivities.

Serving the community as a resource for healthy living, Soup to Nuts' motto became "the more you know, the better your choices."

How it all started

Patty Holtz, founder of Soup to Nuts, eventually moved the operation to the basement of the radio Station WFXW on State Street, where she became a frequent contributor on the radio, promoting and educating the community about natural health.

One of Soup to Nuts' early supporters was Dr. Theron Randolph, one of the founders of the Clinical Ecology and Environmental Medicine movement and author of many books on alternative medicine and clinical ecology. His research and clinical work was a good fit with Holtz's firm belief in the power of nutrition and natural medicine.

In 1990, Craig and JR Carmany moved to Geneva with their daughter and infant son and took over management of the store. Their own intention was to provide a family-friendly natural foods store -- focused on quality products, customer service, and natural health education.

To educate the community, Soup to Nuts offers classes and workshops on topics ranging from climate awareness and organic gardening to chakra clearing, meditation and the raw food diet.

Evolving and growing

The Carmanys have watched the community grow up over the years; children of customers now bring their own children to the store. They have also watched many fads come and go, however they stuck with the basics of natural health -- clean food, clean water and holistic home care.

When the Carmanys couldn't find decent lunch options in the area, they established a juice bar/café to fill the gap. SweetGrass Café offers all-organic healthful option such as wheatgrass smoothies, juicing, salads, soups and wraps -- all organic ingredients at a reasonable price.

In 1999, JR Carmany and a group of practitioners decided it was time to bring the attention of the public to the growing number of alternative practitioners in the area. Every year since, the Fox Valley Holistic Health Celebration has been held outside Soup to Nuts in early fall -- a chance for the public to meet and become educated about natural health. The exhibitors include local organic farms, chiropractors, naturopaths, acupuncturists, yoga studios, massage therapists, and more. In 2013, the event drew more than 1,200 visitors from the Fox Valley and beyond.

For information about the anniversary celebration, call (630) 232-6646 or visit

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