As consumers become more aware of the impact their food dollar can have on the environment, we are seeing increased support and demand for farms, markets and suppliers that provide fresh, local produce grown organically. There has also been increased support for farms and suppliers who raise cattle and poultry in a humane, environmentally conscious manner. This new breed of eco-conscious consumer is searching for ways to maintain a healthy, vital lifestyle, while supporting businesses with social and environmental responsibility as a company value and ethos.
For residents of the First Coast, this trend is most evident in the number of farmer’s markets taking place each weekend around town. But did you also know that even when it comes to eating out in restaurants, consumers have a growing number of options with establishments that share their commitment to healthy living? One example is The Present Moment Café (http://www.thepresentmomentcafe.com/) which, for more than 3 years, has been serving “fresh, organic, gluten free, sugar free, flavorful food in a relaxing and informative setting.” Located just west of downtown St. Augustine, Chef Yvette Schindler and her staff at The Present Moment serve fresh vegetarian specialties from locally grown organic foods. By utilizing produce from local resources, the café negates the need for extensive transportation of their ingredients which benefits the environment and ensures customers are eating only the freshest, most flavorful dishes available. In addition, their buying practices are supporting and giving back to the local community. Chef Schindler does not serve meat or fish and describes her dishes as “kind cuisine,” referring to the treatment of animals as a source of food.
The café is one of a growing number of eating establishments practicing raw food preparation. Raw food typically refers to uncooked fruits, nuts, vegetables and seeds and its’ enthusiasts point to scientific studies which have shown that heating food above a temperature of 104 degrees destroys nutrients and enzymes and therefore renders the ingredients less healthy and flavorful. It has also been noted that cooking oils, etc. used in heating and cooking foods contribute to increased amounts of Trans fats in the body.
Whether you are a practitioner of the raw food diet, a vegetarian, vegan, or just someone who enjoys a fresh, healthy meal, making yourself more aware of where your food comes from benefits both the health of our bodies and our planet. When you patronize local restaurants and cafes that pride themselves on utilizing fresh local ingredients and conduct business using environmentally sound practices (recyclable paper products, renewable food containers, non-toxic/biodegradable cleaning products, etc.) you are ensuring a vibrant, local economy and healthy eco-system while becoming more closely related to your food sources. And thankfully for Jacksonville residents, we now have more choices than ever!