CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - As more newcomers move to the Island, the demand for international food is also on the rise.
“And, that’s the idea,” said Luba Kaboush, who co-owns the Freshest Fruits and Vegetables grocery store in Charlottetown with her husband Burhan.
“We’ve seen a demand. So, that’s why we opened this location.”
The store opened in December at 421 University Ave. in the space previously occupied by a Needs convenience store.
The store offers familiar produce, such as P.E.I. potatoes, lemons, garlic, apples, oranges, lettuce and tomatoes, to name a few.
But the store’s appeal is the international food that is hard to find (if at all) at other grocery stores.
“We learn from different international people. The diversity here on P.E.I. is growing more and more.”
Luba explained that a goal of Freshest is to make healthy food affordable, especially as the cost of living increases.
Burhan guarantees that the store’s prices will also be the lowest in the city.
This list of international items includes yoka cassava, al madina and mazafati dates, kalamata spring figs, malanga islena taro (root), sugar cane, eddoes, jicama, maracuya, tamarillos and aloe vera leaves.
Given the unfamiliarity some customers may have with the international produce, the couple are also educators.
“The aloe vera – nobody knew. I had so many people coming in and saying, ‘Oh my God, you can eat this?’”
Aloe vera can be consumed in smoothies, among other ways, she said.
On their Facebook page (Facebook.com/freshestfruitsandvegetables) they offer nutritional information as well as cooking and preparation tips for some of their lesser-known items.
Luba, originally from Syria, came to P.E.I. about 26 years ago. She laughs as she explains that she is learning how to cook Chinese food.
“We learn from different international people. The diversity here on P.E.I. is growing more and more,” she said.
The couple also opened Mango Fresh Market on Capital Drive seven years ago. That business carries international produce but also serves as a wholesaler for hotels and restaurants.