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December 4, 2019

Living Earth market closing after 49 years in Worcester

Photo | Google The Living Earth Natural Market in Worcester closed after almost 50 years. The property was sold to restaurateur Thuc Tang.

The Living Earth Natural Market & Cafe is closing its doors at the end of the year after nearly a half-century in business, it announced Tuesday.

Long before such a thing was commonplace, Living Earth sold organic, locally sourced and farm-to-table food, first out of a storefront at 327 Pleasant St. and later at 232 Chandler St.

Owners Albert and Magdalena Maykel said in a statement announcing the closure they took pride in being pioneers in selling such offerings so long ago.

They moved back to Worcester after attending college in Boston and found they couldn't find the quality of food they wanted. So in 1971, they opened their doors.

“We wanted to educate the community about the importance of good nutrition,” Albert Maykel said. “This includes understanding the importance of why eating foods produced without the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides benefit both people and the environment.”

The market partnered with local farms to sell their produce, and in 1990, the couple bought a farm of their own, a 150-acre plot where they raised lamb, beef, pork, produce and herbs they sold exclusively at the store. The Maykels eventually partnered with similar stores around New England to buy cooperatively, an arrangement the couple says required weekly middle-of-the-night trips to Logan Airport in Boston to pick up and then divide organic produce and dairy products flown in from California.

Once Living Earth moved to Chander Street, it rented upstairs space for health-related operations to serve Living Earth customers. In 2006, it opened its own restaurant, EVO, a concept that would evolve into Bootlegger’s Prohibition Pub and later Gourmet Grab and Go, which specializes in healthy food and drink.

Now, the Maykels and store General Manager Frank Phelan are retiring.

“We can do so feeling we accomplished our mission,” Albert Maykel said.

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January 6, 2020
Congratulations to the Maykels on several fronts: retiring (good for you), raising the health consciousness of Worcester throughout the years, and for one of the best natural food stores selling organic produce I've ever experienced anywhere in the country. That is what I will miss most of all: I shopped weekly for fresh, organic produce at Living Earth because of two things: quality and price. No wilted, old produce or over-priced organics here. I was truly sad to learn there would be no more Living Earth, and wonder if the staff might not have somehow banded together to keep it in business. There is no where else I know to get such a large variety of fresh, organic produce at such a reasonable price. Worcester lost something special with LE's closing. If I had the means and the time, I'd open the same kind of store here. Kudos, Maykels, for a job well done. I will miss LE (and struggle to maintain the same vegetarian diet so easily and economically). Enjoy a well-deserved retirement.
December 4, 2019

Oh so sad. I have loved every iteration of the Maykel's business ventures. This leaves a hole in the Worcester heart.

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