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June 2020 Newsletter
The Individuals
Meet the de Lucas

This is a story about culture, food, family, connection and love; all of which are key to health and happiness. I hope you enjoy the read.

Luella: Tell me a little bit about your family’s beginnings here in Winnipeg.

De Luca: My parents, Vincenzo and Emilia De Luca had four sons, me,(Tony), Peter, Pasquale, and Frank. Dad, along with Frank and Pasquale, immigrated to Winnipeg in 1958. I followed in 1959, while mom and Peter joined us in 1963. We are from the small town of Lappano, Italy, in Calabria. Land and opportunity drew the family to Canada. We started out in the garment industry, then began working at a pharmacy/grocery store on Portage Avenue. Opportunity arose when the owner of the pharmacy decided to close. He encouraged us to buy the building and start our own business.

Luella: What is the most challenging aspect of your work as a grocer?

De Luca: Trying to please the consumer. There is so much product and variety out there now and people have access to it all. Consumers do their own research on products before coming in; they are knowledgeable and specific in terms of the quality and taste they are looking for.

Luella: If you remove all monetary rewards, what drives you out of bed in the morning?

De Luca: Pride. We feel drawn towards sharing our skills and love for food with customers. We feel that simple quality foods are essential to happy memories, especially when it comes to bringing family and friends together. We are proud that our family can be a part of this.

Luella: The Mediterranean Diet is often described as the best approach to lifelong health, since it focuses on fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, olive oil, fish and grass-fed beef. Would you say this is true and has contributed to the health of the family?

De Luca: Oh yes. Good food is always a part of our family gatherings. High quality cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano or meats such as prosciutto di Parma, beautiful olive oils, fresh tomatoes and peppers and basil are staples in our households.

Luella: Name one routine, practice, or ritual that you do daily to provide you with focus and energy to complete your day.

De Luca: No matter how busy we are, we gather together for coffee certain times throughout the day. Some gatherings are shorter than others, but we make a point to sit down and have an espresso and laugh together.

Luella: Expressing gratitude is well documented in the literature as a way of maintaining happiness. What is a form of gratitude that you express?

De Luca: We show gratitude through cooking and sharing food with family. We express gratitude by teaching the children and grandchildren to cook, and spending quality time with them.

Luella: Name a secret indulgence, a guilty pleasure if you will, that your family will engage in daily or occasionally?

De Luca: Eating Italian sausage, peppers and cheese sandwiches. And if there is a good soccer match on – all the better.

Luella: There are 5 modifiable lifestyle factors that I like my clients to consider whenever it comes to maintaining or sustaining overall happiness and wellness:

Relationships, Nutrition, Stress, Movement, Sleep/Relaxation

Pick one of these areas and tell me how you try to optimize daily.

De Luca: Relationships. Gathering family and friends to celebrate life with good food and sharing stories about our day is what brings us the most happiness. It brings smiles to our faces and reminds us why we do what we do.

The Item
Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

EVOO - Brain Food

What I loved about this interview was the discussion about connecting with others. No matter how crazy busy the day may become, the de Luca family take time to sit together and have a coffee. I have a hunch they also prioritize family meals together. Talk and laughter is not only therapeutic, but it is an essential human need, just as eating quality food is.

Have you ever taken the time to think about what food is? It is not something that we ingest to stop a hunger pain, or for many of us – simply a habit that is dictated by time of day. Food is information for the body. It delivers a code to the inner cell membrane, directly to the mitochondria inside the cell. Think of the mitochondria as your little powerhouse generators. Without the code, they cannot function. Inflammation occurs within the whole body; and, don’t forget, your brain is an organ within this system. The quality of food matters. Overly processed foods (think of what comes in a box) does to your body what low grade petroleum does to your car’s engine. You are going to be sluggish and yes, dumber.

"Food is information for the body. It delivers a code to the inner cell membrane, directly to the mitochondria inside the cell." via @luellajonk

One of my favorite brain foods is olive oil. Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil or EVOO (which is the least processed) is phytonutrient dense, monosaturated fatty acid full of powerful antioxidants. The word antioxidant just means it fights disease by decreasing inflammation. Imagine the antioxidants cleaning up the black smoke that was produced with low grade fuel you may have ingested. Inflammation is a sign of some sort of dis-ease. Any stress to the body is inflammation. An easy antidote to dis-ease is to slurp olive oil off your plate. It will also give you a good dose of Vitamin E and K – both are essential nutrient co-factors for the energy powerhouses.

So, the next time you are about to grab a bottle of Kraft Italian dressing, realize it is everything but Italian! It is made of overly processed seed oils which cause inflammation. Furthermore, why spend your hard-earned cash on this when you can simply make amazing salad dressings at home in the same amount of time it took you to walk down the ‘seasonings’ aisle in the grocery store. A delicious combination of EVOO, lemon juice (or acid of your choice), along with herbs and a dash of S+P is all you need.

EVOO is just one of many whole high nutrient dense choices you have at de Luca’s. This is a staple for me when frequenting their store, as well as other brain healthy energizing foods like avocados, olives, fresh dark green vegetables (one of the only places I found dandelion greens, which is great for throwing into smoothies), wild game sausages, dark chocolate, Spanish almonds (also not seen in other stores) and so much more! My ‘not so healthy treats’ would be all types of their wide variety of store made sausages, deli meats, breads and pastries (hey – eaten in moderation, you can have your cake and eat it too.) 

Now…I wouldn’t be able to close this conversation without mentioning their signature-roasted coffees. My favorite blend is de Luca’s Swiss water decaffeinated Columbia Supremo (also offered as Fairtrade if that is your thing). For my morning java jolt I love their authentic espresso blend, but honestly, it is the freshness that puts their coffees above what you find on grocery store shelf. It leaves the shelves so fast; there is no need to stamp an expiry date on it. By the way, have you checked out their new location on McGillivray Blvd. Gooorgeous! This is where the coffee beans are roasted. I could hang out there with the fam all day and drink espressos if they let me 😀

Bottom line, the de Luca family celebrates food, it is their friend, not enemy, and it is done while relaxing, not rushing. They also keep life simple. Eat real food, not something that was made in a factory.

Let’s review the 5 modifiable lifestyle factors – the family took care of:

Relaxation - taking the time out of their day to have a coffee and share stories,

Relationships - they not only connect with family, they connect with the community,

Stress - highly dense, quality food fuels the brain and body and brings down inflammation/stress, as does connection with others,

Movement - when do grocers not move? and

Nutrition - de Luca’s store inventory is full of nutritious wholesome foods.

In summary, they are doing a fine, fine job. Wonder if that has anything to do with their success?🤔

Want to get some ‘health’ on this weekend? Stop by de Luca’s, grab some calabrese bread, beautiful provolone and sliced salami, greens, olives, fruits, nuts, vinegars and EVOO, and perhaps some wine or sparkling water, pack yourself a picnic and head to some green space. Take some time to 🎵daydream - or nightdream – the moon will be fabulous.

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Luella Jonk Therapy and Wellness

Registered Psychotherapist | Functional Medicine Candidate,
Manitoba R2M 0T5 Canada

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