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Mooshfood bridges local gap to Afro-Caribbean food experience

Mooshfood Supermarket about more than just the taste of home, says owner, as it also helps expats moving to Barrie by providing them with tips on jobs, homes and business opportunities

African and Caribbean grocery store Mooshfood Supermarket in Barrie was born out of solidarity.

It all started when Moosh Wale and his wife, Grace, saw an opportunity thanks to their annoying experience of needing to drive to Toronto to buy African products.

“We had to drive long miles to get everything and also plan to buy all in bulk,” Grace tells BarrieToday.

That’s when the couple decided to put an online clothing business aside and focus on their idea for a food store.

“We ended up in the food business, trying to save other people a long trip and to help bring more Africans to our community,” she says.

Grace says she has customers who told her they ultimately moved to Barrie because of the Mooshfood Supermarket, which is located near Anne and Dunlop streets.

“The moment I set foot into Barrie, I fell in love instantly (and wanted to) live here with my family. But soon I realized I couldn’t find my home food, which I couldn’t live without,” she says.

The Wales started selling African food online in 2015.

“I posted the items on social media to see if it was a good idea and, yes, within one hour, I got five messages," she says. "And in that first month, I found myself going to Toronto to buy groceries from other people and selling it in Barrie.”

After a while, Grace researched how to get the products directly from suppliers and the demand for the specialties has only increased since, she says.

Customers who visit to Mooshfood Supermarket will find a variety of Afro-Caribbean food products, including fufu, cassava, crayfish, palm oil, bobolo, bush pepper, jerk seasoning, fresh frozen coconut water, Jamaican patties, and more. Hard chicken, garri, fufu and goat meat are the most popular.

Prepared foods, such as jollof rice, goat meat pepper soup, grilled fish, fried rice, and egusi soup with pounded yam or fufu, are also available on pre-order.

Grace says she initially struggled to find suppliers, but now the vendors are calling her directly as sales grow. Still, she says, most of the African items are imported.

But above all, she stresses the local grocery store also plays an important role in helping expats moving to Barrie, providing them with tips on jobs, homes and business opportunities.

“We see messages on Instagram from people trying to move to Barrie and we want to help them,” says Grace, who values her store’s family-style approach to customers.

African and Caribbean customers comprise the largest proportion of regular visitors, but Grace notes there is a growing interest from other demographics for specialty items like suya spice, pepper soup spice, and agege bread.

With no family ties in Canada, Grace supports the idea a warm and friendly environment prevails over homesickness.

“Home is where a person lives and feels happy, no matter where they have come from,” she says. “Then, good community, neighbours and friends become their ties.”

As for missing the taste of home, she says expats, in one way or another, find a way around this, and she will be there for them.

“I would say immigrants don’t miss anything from the taste of their food in Canada, but it’s not always farm-fresh like back home because of the distance,” she says. “Sometimes it comes either frozen or sun-dried.”

Mooshfood Supermarket is located at 285 Dunlop St. W., Unit 4.