Jersey City Swarms to Busy Bee Organics
Within minutes of stepping inside the grand opening party at Busy Bee Organics’ new brick and mortar store in the Heights, it was evident that Jersey City is bursting with pride over the new storefront and the owners’ success. One might say the place was “buzzing” with excitement as friends and family of Michelle Berckes and her team of amazing women converged on the beautiful new establishment in order to celebrate their success.
A Rocky Relationship With Food
Busy Bee Organics started 5 years ago as a project of both necessity and passion for Michelle. She went through a debilitating 7-year long eating disorder that started in her teens and continued into her early twenties. As she pursued her bachelor’s degree in nutrition, her new studies only added to her problems as she became laser focused on the numbers game. While they were studying macronutrients and calories in versus calories out, her type-A obsessiveness with food control worsened. She was terrified of food and knew she needed a change.
A Beautiful Breakthrough
It wasn’t until she attended the Natural Gourmet Institute after college that she began to understand that food is healing. With this newfound education and awareness, she gained a sense of empowerment and the freedom to no longer be afraid of food. Berckes had been relying on boxed foods of low and non-fat products because it gave her a sense of security in that she could easily count calories and keep track of quantities. Yet her constant intake of complex carbohydrates and empty sugars left her feeling deflated and unsatiated. She came to the realization that she wasn’t giving her body what she needed in order for it to run efficiently. “It’s like you have a car that needs gas and oil and you’re putting regular fuel into a car that needs premium,” Berckes stated.
Powered By Veggies
Because of her background and education in nutrition and health, Berckes had spent countless hours reading nutrition and diet books. Everyone was saying something different. She recognized the differing opinions of experts telling us what is and what is not healthy was a big reason why we’re all mentally messed up around food. After careful research, she realized that there was one thing everyone seemed to come to a consensus on. “Once I stepped back and looked at what everyone was saying, I realized that everyone agreed vegetables were healthy,” says Berckes.
She started to build her meals around vegetables instead of proteins, as many of us do. Realizing the food pyramid doesn’t make any sense, she developed a plant forward model for herself which incorporated meat and cheese as secondary components. Once she started shifting towards this whole foods approach, her life completely changed. She felt remarkably different and gained control over her hunger pains, a sensation she hadn’t experienced in a long time.
A Vision is Born
Going through this life transformation inspired her yearning to help others. Michelle realized that her life-altering diet changes could be an easy, attainable process for everyone. When she went public about her eating disorder 6 years ago and shared her struggle on a television show and the news, she was overwhelmed with support from people who had experienced similar difficulties. “People were coming up to me left and right. People in their 20s, 60s, men and women. All telling me they had or were going through the same thing,” Berckes recalls.
Growing Her Hive
Motivated by her own journey and the response she had received from others, she decided to bring healthy food to Jersey City and founded Busy Bee Organics. At first, she began selling her products at local farmers markets and street fairs around the community. As her company gained popularity, Michelle began adding food deliveries as part of her services and organically grew her team of one to the fabulous group of women that now make up the Busy Bee family.
It didn’t take much to develop her dream team of dedicated staff. People started gravitating toward the company and Michelle was able to hire a passionate group of individuals who strongly believe in the mission of her brand. In some instances, she took a risk by hiring people with limited to no experience in the food industry. However, she was drawn to their hunger to learn and their deep love for healthy food and its ability to help the community. “If my employees are passionate about what we do and passionate about our mission, people will taste that in our food,” Berckes says.
Let Food Be Thy Medicine, and Medicine Thy Food
Michelle always had dreams of opening her storefront since the beginning. It wasn’t until recently, however, that Busy Bee Organics was finally ready to make that big step. As the team began to outgrow their kitchen at the Brunswick School, Berckes realized it was time to find her own space and began her hunt for the perfect storefront that checked all her boxes. A year later, she found that in her new brick and mortar in Jersey City Heights. Having a space to call her own allowed her the opportunity to refocus her time and energy into creating healthy and wholesome food for Jersey City as well as educating customers on the healing properties of a nutritionally sound diet, a crucial part of her personal goal.
“We aren’t just in it to be the next big health food. We have the highest integrity ingredients and pure passion coming out of what we do. You can come to us with any health ailment and we’ve got your back. Our food is medicine,” Berckes conveys.
Hearing about how their products have helped Jersey City residents deal with specific ailments has continued to motivate the team to keep spreading awareness about nutrition. Recently, a client stopped one of Busy Bee’s delivery drivers to gush about how her life has completely changed and how the food delivery has saved her life. She had struggled with an auto-immune disease and after having her gallbladder removed, she was put on an extremely strict diet. The food delivered from Busy Bee Organics has helped her in her recovery, as all food on the menu is naturally anti-inflammatory. Other stories of customers with diabetes, inflammation, allergies, etc. have inspired Michelle to continue her mission of feeding and educating our community. She has high hopes of leading workshops in how nutrition can affect our lives in both positive and negative ways and helping people resolve their misconceptions about what they can and cannot eat. “It’s not only about feeding people but educating them on how best to take care of their bodies,” Berckes says of her mission.
This Is Only The Beginning
As Michelle and her team settle into their cozy corner in the Heights, they look to the future of how to best meet the needs of the community through delicious food, information, and a strong desire and willingness to meet each of their customers where they are on their journey to recovery, health, knowledge or whatever else it may be. In the end, Busy Bee Organics isn’t just a place for incredible and nutritiously sound food, but a community of passionate individuals committed to helping Jersey City residents become the healthiest and happiest version of themselves.