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D OI NG I T RI GHT kid and, you know, when you buy the packet of meat in the supermarket and your mum cooks it up it tastes good, looks good - you have no idea what's going on behind the scenes. When I read about conventional cattle farming - I was horrified.' Renée began questioning about why we eat food that's been sprayed with chemicals, and why we grow food that way in the first place. 'I moved to England after uni and ended up working as a professional wine taster, which was great fun. Then, towards the end of my 20s, I got married and my husband, Brian, and I went back to America and did a six-month personal growth course, which was really fantastic. 'While we were in America, I went shopping at a health food store that was huge - it had a café, treatment rooms upstairs with things I'd never heard of, such as reiki. What I really liked about this business was that it catered to people looking for a different way. 'I also went to see a shop called IF FEAR LEAD S Bread and Circus in Boston (later T O LEARNING, acquired by Whole Foods), which PEOPLE MAKE PERMANENT was an organic supermarket. It was CHANGE S beautiful, like Planet today. It was warm and friendly - health food offered in a setting that respected and reflected its quality. I told my husband: "I'm going to open a chain of organic supermarkets".' A CHANGE IN FORTUNE PLANET ORGANIC RENÉE ELLIOTT, 51, OPENED THE ORGANIC SUPERMARKETS AS SHE BELIEVED PEOPLE DESERVED BETTER 'When I went to university in America I had no idea what I wanted to do. I studied English but also did a minor in health and as part of the course, we read Diet For A Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé, which is about the meat industry in America. Up until that point I was a very trusting, innocent 18 The full version of this interview can be read online at balance. media big BSE scare. I was a vegetarian, but we had a full service meat counter with four butchers, full Soil Association organic meat, and a wet fish counter with sustainable fish. Just because I didn't eat meat, I didn't think other people shouldn't eat meat, we were just offering a better alternative to what was out there and supporting organic agriculture. 'Suddenly our meat counter took off, on the back of the BSE scare. That year we made £1.2million.' After BSE, other food scares followed and people started to wake up a bit. 'But fear is short-lived, and if it leads to learning, then people can make permanent positive changes.' What hasn't changed is Planet Organic's original mission to sell only the best. 'You can buy rubbish in many shops in England. We don't need to sell it too.' B BALANCE September 2016 PHOTOGRAPHY: JACK ALEXANDER After returning to London, Renée got a job in a health food store but soon realised that she hated being told what to do, which confirmed that she should start her own company. One year later, on 4 November 1995, the first Planet Organic store opened in Westbourne Grove. 'The early days were awful. I thought we were going down. And then, February 1996, it was the first

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