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Clark’s Employee Health Education an Investment for Life!

By David Stern

starkie-sowersEver go to a store, ask for help and get pointed in the general direction where you’ll theoretically find what you need? Maybe you’ve asked a question about a product and were told; “The person who knows all about that isn’t here right now, but, no worries, you can come back some other time.”

That won’t happen at Clark’s Nutrition & Natural Foods Markets. Clark’s, a leading provider of natural foods, has been family owned and operated since 1972 with locations in Riverside, Loma Linda, Rancho Mirage, and recently opened a 46,000-square-foot Chino store in December of 2014. Starting a health food store in 1972, Clark’s was an industry leader way before health food was considered “cool.”

For more than four decades Clark’s has maintained its commitment to equipping its employees through unparalleled health education; a huge benefit to both Clark’s employees and customers.

At many health stores, someone will help you find the aisle you need to go to. At Clark’s, a Nutritional Consultant will help you find what you need to live a healthier life.


weightsMany are not aware that Clark’s employees receive extensive health education. Starkie Sowers, Director of Education for Clark’s, shares, “Our proprietary employee health education sets Clark’s apart from other health stores. 50% of the program is through Clark’s training and the other 50% is on-going education through Huntington College of Health Sciences.”

Clark’s employee education program includes study subjects such as; superfoods, digestion, longevity, general diseases, male and female disorders, mental alertness, as well as Bach Flower and homeopathic remedies.  As employees progress to the Huntington College of Health Sciences, they take advanced courses focusing on herbal sciences, vitamins, minerals, biology and anatomy.  This unique health education training takes three to four years to complete and Clark’s picks up the cost.

Such an investment is considerable. However, it pays healthy dividends by providing advanced health education for employees to use the rest of their careers. Clark’s customers benefit from well-educated employees who direct them to the right products they need, and the health store industry benefits from consumers who are better informed about natural health solutions.


pilatesStarkie says there’s a misconception that vitamins and supplements are not regulated. “That is 100% false. The FDA regulates vitamins and supplements under the “DSHEA” Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. The FDA has become, in my opinion, more and more effective making sure we’re a safer industry.”

“The “DSHEA” Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act regulates what the industry is allowed to say and what it’s not allowed to say, and most people don’t understand that. So health food stores shouldn’t be making exorbitant claims for something that doesn’t have scientific support. At Clark’s, we focus on what the science says, what the product does and we inform our customers how the product works to help them make an educated decision for themselves.”

Clark’s states the cornerstone of their market position is to “provide reliable scientific information for the consumer’s benefit in making educated and informed decisions resulting in vibrant health.”


Starkie shares that, in general, there are three categories of customers who shop at Clark’s to live better. “Age 18–27: They want to be in shape. They workout and want to look good. They diet and some take supplements to help build muscle and keep muscle tissue on. The 30–50 age group is focused on maintaining what they like and need to do, and do it better. It’s often food related. They want to feed their family healthy food, keep the kids healthy and stay in shape.”

“Then you have 55+ individuals; some who are working on cardiovascular health, immune issues and structural complications, like joint and bone ailments. The emphasis is on prevention and preventing things from getting worse. In the last twenty years or so, I’ve been watching that group really embrace the idea of getting back in shape, so that’s been fun too.”


bike-tennisMany have been known to make mistakes on the quest for physical fitness.
Starkie explains that the biggest obstacle people face trying to meet their fitness objectives is inconsistency. “Many do all these things to get in shape to get the ball rolling, and then get out of it because they pushed too hard. I’ll hear, ‘Well I got too busy and I can’t be in the gym seven days a week.’ I tell them they’re better off doing a consistent 50% of their goal throughout the year as opposed to going at 100% for three months and then falling off the wagon.”

“When it comes to diet, I recommend a 70/30 plan. 70% of the time; aim to eat the best you possibly can, the other 30%, watch what you eat, but don’t be too strict with yourself. It would be great to be at 90/10 or 95/5, but 70/30 is a good place to start.”


When it comes to distilling it all down to a few simple things we can all do to be healthier and live better, happier lives, Starkie said, “These are the three things people can do that I view to be the core of wellbeing:

1 Exercise at least three to five times a week – Any type of exercise. It doesn’t have to be huge. It can be walking. It can be swimming. Anything you want to do.

2 Make a grocery list. The Wall Street Journal says that by the year 2020, 70% of all food consumed will be outside of the house. So if you can make a grocery list and try to eat at home five days a week or three to five days a week, it makes a huge difference. What happens is, when people go to the grocery store, they get confused and distracted and buy a lot of things they’d be better off without. If you have a grocery list for what you plan for breakfast, dinner and snacks, you end up buying healthier foods and make wiser choices.

3 Meet minimal recommended dietary allowances. I’ve done hundreds of diet evaluations and not one person has ever, in any diet evaluation I’ve done, met the RDA minimal recommended dietary allowances for vitamins and minerals. Not one person. I think taking a multivitamin is absolutely an essential foundation for good health, as well as eating right and including plenty of superfoods.”


trained“It’s important to take charge on your own health. If you don’t, the “causeless course” comes to pass. This is when you’re not on a course that has a cause. If you don’t have any goals, if you have no ideals, if you have no idea where you’re going, you won’t get there for sure.”

“Back in the late seventies, I was trained by Monty Woolford, a friend of Paul Bragg, and Monty shared with me something that Paul shared with him; Every day when you wake up, before you get out of bed, thank God for the life you’ve got. That’s number one. Number two – I want you to visualize what you think you will look like as a healthy individual. I want you to think through that process. I want you to see the muscles. I want you to see how healthy you are. I want you to see the vision you’ve been given in life, and get out of bed and go do it.”


Clark’s Nutrition & Natural Foods Markets have been family owned and operated since 1972. Clark’s has a wide selection of whole and organic foods, organic produce, bulk foods, dairy and deli items, prepared foods and a full frozen foods selection at all store locations. Clark’s is a leader in vitamins, supplements, sports nutrition, herbs & bulk teas, heath & beauty products, and homeopathic remedies.

Four generations of Clark family members and employees have continued bringing healthy living to individuals and families that desire a healthy life. The heritage of Clark’s Nutrition & Natural Foods Market can be traced to the early days of mom and pop health food stores. Jim Clark, the company’s founder, purchased the first Riverside location in 1972 in downtown Riverside.

In those early days, the public often thought of health food stores as a source for date shakes, carrot juice and hippies. However, Jim had a vision that the
industry would grow into what is today a 60 billion-dollar industry.


TOP: Loma Linda on Mountain View Avenue
LEFT: Riverside store on Market Street
RIGHT: Rancho Mirage on Washington Street
BOTTOM: President, Jeff Clark and IT Director, Carl Palmer of Clark’s Nutrition prepare for opening of new Chino, CA location.