Theresa now, continuing our brief history of food and eating.
Last episode, we talked about The Cookbook, American Whole Foods Cuisine. During our initial forays into the recipes, it became obvious that there were certain ingredients that were not to be found at our local Publix (on a tangent, let me say that I miss Publix, only found in the south, as it was one of the greatest conventional grocery stores ever. Period.). These wild and crazy ingredients included such hippie foods as nutritional yeast, raw nuts and oat bran. I find it entertaining that a little less than 5 years ago, the ‘health’ section of the standard grocery store was crammed with low-carb, low-sugar ‘foods’, that have now been replaced with organic, alternative, gluten-soy-dairy-egg-[fill in allergy here] foods. Please don’t think I’m disparaging or discouraging this trend. God knows I love me some gluten free cookies, rice macaroni and cheese, and endless cartons of Turtle Mountain Coconut Ice Cream (I will miss you my love!). However, I feel these products still miss the point of trying to eat healthfully: eating balanced, nutritious whole foods. But that is another post altogether.
Where was I?… Oh, yes, The Store. During one of my first forays into the working world, I worked at a health food store, which shall go unnamed. I liked the products and the general concept, but strongly disliked the owner. Let’s leave it at the idea that he definitely favored the money aspect over the customers. Laura and I did some research into alternative grocery stores, and found our grocery store for over three years.
Nutrition S’Mart is a small chain of 6 stores in South Florida. We frequented the Palm Beach Gardens location, on Northlake Boulevard. In many ways it was like many other health food stores I have visited through time, the same smells and atmosphere. But the people really made this store shine. We knew many of the employees by name, got the occasional hug from the extremely sweet owner and learned a great deal from everyone we encountered.
Then there was the food. Nutrition S’Mart carried such goodies as Glaser Organic Farm raw vegan foods, which I recommend if you can get a hold of these. The bulk foods section was small, but introduced us to the wonders of bulk foods and provided everything we needed, and then some. The produce section was also small, but abundant with fresh fruits and vegetables. Here, we discovered our first local foods.
Oh sweet tropical Florida lovin’ goodness! The local tropical fruit was like nothing else I have ever tasted. I refuse to even LOOK at the tropical fruit in Massachusetts. Don’t bother, it isn’t worth it. It made us realize that, you know, something that ripened on its plant and was shipped a really short distance tasted pretty darn good. We began searching other stores, roadside stands and other people’s backyards in our search for wonderful, ripe, sweet and entirely decadent fruit. We enjoyed mangoes, starfruit, tamarind, lychee, loquat, sapodilla, papaya, coconut, guava, kumquat, mamey, pineapple, cherimoya, custard apple, passionfruit… I could go on, but I’ll miss it all too much.
So, The Store introduced us to fresh, local products, a gift we can never repay. We started with a limited amount of local food, granted, but it was a start.
When we moved to Massachusetts, we investigated apple picking our first fall in 2007. It seemed, at the time, a fun and wholly New England thing to do. Tougas Farms had apples, and darn good ones at that, but they also had peaches and nectarines. Oh sweet temperate Massachusetts lovin’ goodness! These were a different beast from the lovelies we got from Georgia, and we were hooked. A renewed search for local goodies began. A month or two later, we began the next big step into our current local food obsession…
See you next time! Same food time, same food channel!