January 7, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

A cornerstone is a building block of importance, architecturally joining two walls. Metaphorically, it signifies that everything worthwhile begins somewhere, often connecting the past and the future.

In Benson, where business and culture are booming, it is fair to argue that Jane’s Health Market, 6103 Maple Street, has been a community cornerstone since the mid-1980s. It sets the tone. There is a peacefulness in the store that spills out onto the street. Maybe it’s the freshly cut wheatgrass on the juice bar counter or the organic, locally sourced meat, produce, facial cleansers, store branded vitamins, and more lining the shelves of Jane’s where locals go for answers and healthful seekers browse free-range.

The Omahan behind the healthful magic of Jane’s is one of Benson’s most amicable sages, 67-year-old Jane Beran. Jane has been in Benson for 30 years, 25 of those at her current location, which smells of delicious organic soups and sandwiches—especially pleasant this time of year. It’s hard to imagine, but this woman with a patient word of advice for everyone—along with a big glass of carrot juice—is quite reserved on the subject at hand.

“I don’t like talking about myself,” says Jane, who majored in home economics at Kearney State and worked at House of Nutrition for 20 years before moving to Benson. “Let’s talk about the store. This store is my life.”

One day, as she tells it, a realtor wanted to speak to Jane at her desk at Nutrition World. He said she should consider opening a store in Benson, but back in those days, that meant a daunting amount of work in an unrevitalized part of Omaha. Jane was undaunted.

“We decided we wanted to open a juice bar,” says Jane, and the rest was attention to detail, a well-publicized realty deal that kept The Waiting Room in the neighborhood and expertise in knowing which trends and philosophies would pan out.

“The local thing has been a big deal for me. We’re trying to do more local products: arugula, kale, sweet potatoes…I even have a supplier for turmeric and ginger,” Jane says, advocating for a more neighborly economic system. “If you support local people, you keep money in Nebraska.”

To keep healthy customers coming back, Jane uses aluminum-free cookware and will be featuring bone broths in the near future. She recommends juicing with added shots of wheat grass to help with alkalizing and energizing the body, especially for the over-60s.

One might assume the owner of a health food store to be vegan or vegetarian, but that would be embarrassingly off-target in this case.

“I’m not a vegetarian,” Jane says. “I have to be open to tasting a lot of foods for the deli.”

But when it comes to eating out, Jane’s feelers are still out for the veggies.

“My main goal when eating out,” says Jane without hesitation, “is finding good salads.”

Her current favorite is Benson Brewery’s kale salad. Now, that’s better than a Yelp! recommendation.

As 2016 begins and this Benson cornerstone remains at the intersection of 61st and Maple streets, the past and the future show no signs of slipping. It’s gotta be the wheatgrass.

Visit shopjaneshealthmarket.com to learn more.

JaneBeran2

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