I have a few favourite haunts in Dublin that are independent stores that just make living in Dublin so much more enjoyable on a day to day basis. Everyone has those places that they absolutely rave about. Mine include some independent clothes shops, juice bars, cafes, restaurants, butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers and bookshops that just make going about your businesses on a day to day basis way more enjoyable. There's a knowledge, expertise and friendly banter in independent stores that you just don't get in most chains. Which leads me on to.... The best health food store in Dublin. No scratch that, Ireland.
The Hopsack is hidden away in the Swan Centre in Rathmines (an unlikely place for the best health food store in Ireland you might think) and is a family run business. Finn who runs the shop is probably the most knowledgable and enthusiastic person I have ever come across when it comes to health related anything. In fact, all the staff in the Hopsack are really friendly and know a huge amount about the food they sell and the health benefits of each product. They all make learning about health and healthy eating really enjoyable rather than intimidating.
Even if you're not health obsessed this is a spot all food lovers need to know about and visit. The range of speciality foods they sell is incredible- pretty much every grain, bean, nut, seed or dried fruit you could ever wish for. If you're into Ottolenghi-style cooking then you'll be pleased to know you can get your mitts on pomegranate molasses here. They have a really extensive selection of dried seaweeds which is starting to become really popular in Irish cooking. They sell buckwheat soba noodles if you're into Japanese cooking, loads of types of alternative dairy products, drool-worthy chocolate, teas, every kind of flour you can imagine, cheeses, vegetables, breads... The list goes on.
They also serve a lot of fresh food such as smoothies, salads, soups and healthy cakes so you can get a healthy take away if you're too lazy to cook. Probably my favourite thing that they do is their homemade freshly crushed peanut butter, there are no words to describe how amazing it is. I have to throw the spoon in the dishwasher immediately after I eat some so I don't finish the whole thing.... That rarely works though, I usually just grab another spoon and keep going. Will power is an urban legend.
If you're a more seasoned health food aficionado you will be well impressed with the ability to order fresh kefir grains here, avail of the knowledge of the Chinese medical practitioner and the nutritionalist that visit their store regularly to meet with customers, and you can also attend the occasional workshops they hold. The last one I went to was a healthy dessert making demo by Susan Jane White which was amazing. I learnt so much and yes, believe it or not, raw dessert can indeed taste incredible. Honestly!
They also do a whole range of healthy beauty products, supplements, essential oils etc. It's kind of a one stop shop for pretty much anything health related. Despite being hidden away in the Swan Centre they have a really loyal customer base and I've never been in there at any time where there wasn't at least another 5 people shopping there at the same time. Even if you're only slightly curious about improving your health, this is one place that you definitely need to check out.