Here’s how Mustard Seed's Golden Standards have made them one of the most trusted brands in Northeast Ohio

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The café at Highland Square features a modern vibe and plenty of space for private events. Plus, diners can enjoy their selection outdoors on the balcony. (Photography: Benjamin Margalit)

By Mitch Allen

Long before Whole Foods and Earth Fare arrived in Northeast Ohio, the Mustard Seed Market & Café was setting the standards for healthy eating and living.

And even now that national health food chains have crept into our region, Mustard Seed is still at the forefront of the farm-to-fork movement.

“As the only health food store in Akron for decades, we were way ahead of the trend,” says Abraham Nabors, who along with his brother Gabe, manages the stores founded by their parents Margaret and Phillip Nabors.

“And today we work hard to stay out in front by offering innovative, leading-edge products for our customers who are as committed to a healthy lifestyle as we are.”

Mustard Seed Market & Café founders Phillip and Margaret Nabors with their sons, Abraham (left) and Gabe, who now manage the market’s three locations.

What started in 1981 in a 2,000-square-foot store has sprouted into a thriving business twentyfold the size with stores now in Solon, Montrose, and the Highland Square neighborhood of West Akron, employing more than 300 people.

While you’ll find aisles of fresh produce, dairy products, meats, bakery items, vitamins and supplements, it is what you won’t find that sets this family-owned, independent grocer apart from all others.

Mustard Seed’s Golden Standards
Every product in the store is checked to ensure that it conforms to the company’s nine strict ingredient standards, known as its “Golden Standards,” making sure the food you serve your family is free of harmful ingredients.

Mustard Seed Market & Café features over 30,000 different products, all of which meets its nine strict ingredient standards, known as its “Golden Standards.”

The Mustard Seed only offers products that are:

  • Free of artificial flavorings and colorings
  • Free of harmful chemical preservatives
  • Free of saccharin and aspartame
  • Free of high fructose corn syrup
  • Free of partially hydrogenated oils
  • Free of bleached or bromated flour
  • Free from irradiation
  • Hormone/routine antibiotic-free meat
  • Cruelty-free cosmetics

“We live by these ingredient standards,” says Abraham, noting only about five percent of grocery stores in the U.S. have any kind of ingredient standards.

“When you see the term ‘all-natural’ on our shelves, it really means all-natural. And that is not always the case at other grocery stores since there is no legal definition.

Mustard Seed specializes in offering high-quality vitamins and nutritional supplements, including the new Hemp Luxe line of full-spectrum CBD products.

The stores carry 30,000-plus products, and they are always adding new items like Keto- and Paleo-friendly foods, as well as Hemp Luxe CBD oil.

Organic and Local
Mustard Seed has spent years cultivating relationships with regional farmers and companies that produce the highest quality natural and organic foods.

“We used to purchase organic produce from California because that was the only growing region,” says Abraham.

“However, in the early ‘90s—when a year of bad weather diminished the available crop there—my father approached local farmers about organic methods and sparked an organic farming movement in Ohio. Now, most of our produce comes from within a 40-mile radius of our stores.”

Mustard Seed has spent years cultivating relationships with regional farmers and companies that produce the highest quality natural and organic foods.

Educating consumers about healthy eating is a pillar of the business. As the store’s director of education, Abraham helps shoppers decipher the confusing—and often misleading—terminology when it comes to food labeling. Plus, the stores host more than 100 lectures a year with topics ranging from stroke prevention to kicking the sugar habit.

“When my parents opened Mustard Seed their vision was to create a one-stop shop for healthy living,” says Abraham, noting the stainless steel pot his mother used when she was cooking vegetarian soup out of her home and selling it at music festivals is still used in the Montrose kitchen.

“We are more hard-core and authentic than the national health food stores. We have restaurants, catering services, an education department, live music and art exhibits.”

Building Community
In addition to its cafe in the Akron-area stores and juice bar in Solon, all three locations have space where they host community events, corporate retreats, birthday parties and even weddings.

As the store’s director of education, Abraham helps shoppers decipher the confusing—and often misleading—terminology when it comes to food labeling.

“We showcase the food we sell on our shelves in our restaurants and on our catering menu,” says Abraham.

The perfect vegetarian alternative to chicken wings, the Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower features fried cauliflower batter dipped and flash fried crispy, then tossed with Buffalo wing sauce and served with buttermilk bleu cheese dip and celery.

“This way diners can see how to take natural ingredients and turn them into tasty meals.”

The stores also host wine tastings, live music and art exhibits, because, as Abraham says, “fun is healthy.”

Grilled Salmon Greens—like all items on the café menu—are made from products you can find in the store. In this case, grilled Black Pearl salmon over baby spinach and spring mix with Greek feta cheese, Kalamata olives, red onions, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, served with white balsamic vinaigrette.

As part of its community involvement, Mustard Seed provides a venue for local artwork, such as Tara Deetscreek’s “Forgotten Summer” paintings currently on view in the Highland Square Café and the Emerge Art Installation featuring women of color in the Montrose Café.

“We are helping nurture a little corner of the earth here in Northeast Ohio,” says Abraham.

“We are proud to be Ohio’s premier health food store and so much more.”

Mustard Seed Market & Café has three locations: 3885 W. Market Street in Montrose (330-666-7333); 867 W. Market Street in Highland Square in Akron (330-434-7333); and 6025 Kruse Drive in Solon (440-519-3663). For more information, visit