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Cornucopia - The Road So Far

More About Us...

So I'm sure you've probably already read the About Me page, which really is just a tiny little part of of the Cornucopia Journey as well as my own personal journey navigating restricted diets. While I went into a little bit more detail in my first blog post I thought I'd give you all a little bit more insight into the history of the store, as well as more about myself personally.

As I mentioned in the first blog post, we are actually a Video Ezy store & a NZ Post outlet, as well as Cornucopia. It's on odd story of how it came to be.

We started out life in 1999 as a member of the Video Ezy Franchise, and I joined the team in mid 2007, just after our current owner Tony took over the store. Fast forward a few months and I became the manager when our previous manager left. Almost 4 years later we could see the writing on the wall, the video rental industry was dying. After wracking our brains for months trying to figure out how to keep going, NZ Post announced the closure of Kiwibank in Carterton, taking with it the Postal Services.

We jumped at the chance to continue running the Postal Sevices... Not only so the store could continue running, but also here was a new challenge! Things had gotten a little stale, just being a Video store, and there was no longer anything new to learn. So on the 15th of August 2011, the first time it had snowed in town in years, we moved into the Post building on the main road.

Here was an absolutely new challenge. Our staff at the time had no experience working with Postal Services, and we had no training for it, so it was in with both feet facing forwards, to learn on the job. It was a hard first year, we lost a few staff, gained some more & learnt so much about working together as a team.

And then just as we got the hang of it all I got horrendously sick. It started out just as a few muscle cramps in my leg, then the nausea, then the cramps spread through every muscle in my body. Almost a year later & I'd lost 25+ kg. I couldn't eat, I could barely walk, I didn't have the energy to get out of bed most days. It was the sickest I'd ever been. The doctor's couldn't figure it out, I'd lost my entire savings account, and I was struggling to continue working just to be able to pay my rent & bills.

It's a tale that almost everyone with food allergies/intolerances/autoimmune conditions/general chronic ill health & pain know all about. Health keeps declining, you feel like you're going insane, test after test comes back negative for everything, pills don't work, and eventually the doctors get sick of you. And then one day, I got a brilliant doctor who diagnosed me with Benign Fasciculation Syndrome & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & said while it wasn't within his field of expertise, he reckoned it was Coeliac Disease!

Of course I'd never heard of it, but I was willing to try anything at this point to be better, it didn't hurt that he said I could go back to drinking coffee of course lol. (At this point I must admit that when I was younger I always said there 3 things I'd never give up, bread, pasta & pie so I did cry a bit when I realised that they all contained gluten).

The first gluten free meal I had (1 rice cake, a slice of tomato, a slice of cheese & some basil) was the first bit of food I'd had in almost a year that didn't make me sick. There was still going to be a battle to get tested, but I knew I'd found my answer (or at least part of it, as I'd learn more a few years later about a genetic condition affecting collagen called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, that I was diagnosed with at 16). The longer I was gluten free the more things fell into place, things that had just been part of who I was suddenly improved - dermatitis, eczema, brittle nails & hair, acne, bloating, gas, the brain fog, the food I just couldn't stand to eat.

So as my health improved steadily on the gluten free diet, I threw myself into learning more about it & how to make cooking enjoyable, and more importantly for those low energy days, easy. There were still challenges though, saying goodbye to favourite foods not knowing if I'd ever be able to eat them again, not having the energy to travel 4 different towns to 6 different supermarkets just to pick up ingredients... Or worse, getting to said town to the 1 supermarket that stocked that 1 item just to find they'd run out.

After spending a couple weeks in Australia, and seeing the completely gluten free supermarket & cafe, and seeing the general ranges available in the supermarkets, I came back even more unsatisfied about having to shop in so many different stores when my energy levels were at all time lows, and still not being able to find things that I knew were available gluten free, just not in our area. And I guess I complained enough at work about the situation that Tony decided to have a serious look in to the allergy food business. And thus the idea for Cornucopia was born.... Stay tuned to find out more!


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