by Ed Berry
For the Health of it was the first certified organic grocery in the panhandle and has been a staple in Walton County for over 20 years. Owner Ed Berry and his then wife, and business partner, Rachel Morgan opened the store in 1995. “We started the store out of our own necessity of wanting to find food that we were used to eating,” stated Berry. “We got tired of driving to Pensacola or Tallahassee to find good, clean organic food.”
Berry became involved in nutrition and dietary needs while working with athletes as an athletic director in Black Mountain, North Carolina. However, he said his interest in eating clean organic food came from Morgan who was already living a clean lifestyle when they met. She “really changed my approach to food and my knowledge of food,” said Berry.
Originally from the panhandle, Berry had retail business experience, having managed a prominent local business growing up. After moving back to the area, Berry and Morgan decided to open their grocery on 30A in Blue Mountain Beach. Morgan was a massage therapist and they decided to add massage as a feature of their store. Their goal was to “create a space where people could one-stop shop for their organic and healthy living needs,” stated Berry. They are considered pioneers in mixing natural food and massage therapy together.
When For the Health of It first opened they were catering to only 1%-2% of the local population. “Everyone told us we were crazy to open a health food store on 30A,” said Berry. His response, “We know we’re crazy, but at least we’ll eat well.” Those numbers have since grown as more and more people have educated themselves on what’s being put in their food, and want to live a healthier lifestyle.
“I’m always thankful to our locals community,” said Berry. “Without the local community, my business wouldn’t be here.”
Berry believes food is medicine and that diet can play an important part in fighting illness. He sees it as a responsibility to provide the best products for his customers, especially those using food to help combat diseases such as cancer. Berry works with farmers who provide him with farm tours and allow him to check their growing methods, so they can guarantee what they are selling is clean food. “We try to source as much as we can from local farmers,” stated Berry. “But by the same token we won’t jeopardize our standards on what is clean food.” They find their produce and meat from farms in North Walton County, but also as far south as Central Florida and as far north as Northern Alabama.
Employees at For the Health of It also meet high standards. “ I have a tremendous staff, with a ton of education and they all strive to be professionals and knowledgeable,” stated Berry. If they don’t know the answer first hand, they take the time to research it to come up with the best answer. “We will not misguide people just to sell something off our shelf,” said Berry.
If you are interested in clean organic food, crave fresh juice or just need a relaxing, healthy massage, stop by For the Health of It at 2217 County Road 30A in Blue Mountain Beach.