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First Look: Bitten Goodfoods

Ashleigh Went

A degree in nanotechnology and a background in documentary filmmaking might not be what you’d expect for a team opening a wholefoods supermarket, but for Alex Howes and John Bruyn of Bitten Goodfoods, it seems like the perfect beginning.

The pair, who met as flatmates at university, were leading thriving careers in their respective fields in Sydney, when they’d realised that perhaps they weren’t leading the lives that they’d dreamed of.  They had what Alex describes as a “life shake-up” – Alex facing ongoing health issues, while John’s mother faced a terminal cancer diagnosis.

“It sort of came to a head when our lives had become really difficult and stressful with our jobs, and our personal lives” explains Alex. “We both got offered our ‘dream jobs’ pretty much in the same week, jobs that we’d both worked ten years for, and we turned them down.”

Miraculously, John also won SuperCoach (a fantasy football competition) earning the couple some extra money. They sold half their belongings, put the rest in storage and headed off for a twelve-month adventure around the world.


“Before we left, we just weren’t fulfilled anymore. We thought ‘there’s so much out there, what if we never see it?’ With John’s mum passing and winning the fantasy football money, we decided to do it. We though we needed the space and time to figure out what we wanted to do.”

The couple explored through Europe, Morocco, Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, the Americas and the Philippines before finally settling in Canberra.

“We lived with my parents and tried to figure out what the hell to do with ourselves after a year of being away. We had no stuff, no house, no money and no idea.”

Like many smart business ventures, the idea for Bitten Goodfoods came from a problem that Alex and John faced themselves.

“I realised that I was doing my grocery shopping at four or five different places to get everything I need. I thought, ‘why don’t we just create the shop that we wish existed?’ – that’s how it came to be. That was two years ago now, we’ve been working on it since then.”

Alex and John eat what they call a “wholefoods diet” – partly born from necessity in treating Alex’s illness, which mostly manifests in unexplained pain.

Alex says that she believes that one of the core principles to good health is about no longer seeing wholefoods as something that sits in isolation to normal foods.

“I think there’s been this typical categorisation where you have your health wholefood stores and then you have your normal food stores like Coles and Woolies. I think that’s a really unhealthy divide, and an unhealthy way of thinking about food. That’s why we’re branding it ‘Goodfoods’ – because it’s about taking the seriousness out of eating quality healthy food, and making it very normal and accessible to everyone. It’s celebrating what food does have, rather than doesn’t have.”

Bitten Goodfoods will sell foods in a supermarket style, where you can buy everything need for the week.

“It’s going to be as organic as possible, the integrity of brands are really important to us, so we’re going to be selling 90% stuff that we’d be happy to put in our own bodies” says Alex.

In addition to the supermarket-style section, Bitten will also have the Bites Bar, which will have a café feel. As well as to being the exclusive Canberra supplier of Pana Cakes, it will also stock Wild Kombucha from Sydney (keep an eye out for their Kombucha cold brew blend!).

“I’ve also designed a menu that’s 98% organic” says Alex. “It will have functional smoothies designed to help your body perform optimally, with interesting ingredients like adaptogens and herbs, as well as pre and post fitness smoothies. Then we’ll have Bites, sort of like sweet breakfast or dessert options, and specialty drinks.”

Lean Timms Bitten Good Foods (61 of 158)

There’s also a focus on ‘grab-n-go’ products including freshly made salads, and a fridge stocked with healthy meal options for dinners.

“The idea is that you’ll walk in and be greeted by this beautiful atmosphere, it’ll smell good, you can sit down with your friends or partner, have a coffee and piece of cake, do your shopping, listen to good music and just be in a place that has good vibes and a good feel to it. It’s about making an event out of doing the shop, rather than a chore.”

Alex says that the space will feature a huge cactus, indoor trees and artwork.

Lean Timms Bitten Good Foods (82 of 158)

When you speak to Alex and John, you get the sense that their business is built upon a series of strong foundations and values: like integrity, authenticity, gratitude and community.

“When I was 16, I was in hospital for ten days and that gave me a sense of gratitude for the world. But when you’re travelling, you realise how lucky you are in Canberra. Our access to services, the opportunity that people have here, the culture, the community… it’s such a beautiful, friendly place.”

Bitten Goodfoods is located in Braddon’s new Palko Building on Lonsdale Street, a location where the community will no doubt embrace an innovative, on-trend way of grocery shopping.

“Braddon is a hotspot” says Alex. “I think it’s the crowd, the age range, the income, the density of the population, it means we could take a risk like this. It’s also fun to be around other cool, grassroots businesses like Barrio who are so awesome and successful, and come from a place of authenticity. That’s inspiring and fun.”

While the grand opening is on Saturday December 2, Alex and John are hoping to have a soft opening in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on the Bitten Goodfoods Facebook and Instagram for updates, or visit their website to sign up for their newsletter.


Ashleigh Went

HerCanberra ACTIVE Editor Ashleigh Went has a passion for all things health and wellness. As someone who loves champagne and cheese almost as she loves a sweaty workout, she's all about living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. She can usually be found with her nose in a book, planning her next adventure, in the gym or updating her Instagram @wentworthavenue. More about the Author

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