One of the reasons I think people read and write for this blog is because they want to challenge themselves to cook and eat thoughtfully. I love the challenge of eating well but not the challenge of finding the ingredients to do so. I moved to this area several years ago and was immediately aware of the culinary limitations. Soon though my yearning for New York City restaurants was fulfilled by cooking my own meals created from local produce. The local farmers market, Saratoga Farmers Market, became my new haven. Unfortunately though, meals often require ingredients you can’t find at the farmers market. I have made the occasional trip to Honest Weight Food Coop in Albany, but honestly that’s a bit of a pain to get to from where I live,with a 45+ minute drive each direction.
On a Wednesday evening, a few weeks ago, I was invited to join a blogger tour of the soon-to-open Healthy Living Market (opening Thursday, March 21st at 8am). Healthy Living has thrived as a health food market and cafe in South Burlington, Vermont since 1986. It is due to open within the week (TWO DAYS!!!) and there is quite the local buzz about it. And no wonder! Nothing like this 35,000 square foot market exists in our area of Saratoga County and places North. Healthy Living will offer a comprehensive bulk section that includes not only local, organic and gluten-free grains and flours, but also liquids like maple syrup, honey & olive oil, and spices. The produce section will be color coded to help shoppers decipher between options such as organic, ecologically grown and local as they shop for fruits and vegetables. The butcher and seafood departments will offer a wide array of meats which will be cut to shopper specifications.
I was impressed not only by the new options this store will bring us, but also by the integrity of owners and general manager conveyed to those of us on the tour. Over and over again they stressed the importance of supporting a sustainable local food culture by creating opportunities for local farmers. They see the store as option in addition to, rather than instead of, the local farmers markets. The people working in the butcher shop will have been walked through the entire meat process starting with the live animals at the local farms they purchase their meats from. The owners and management are very familiar with all the product lines they sell and convey an enthusiasm and passion for what they sell, as well as where it comes from. Quality of product was a theme that came up over and over on the tour. The cafe, which will have in-store seating (and outdoor seating in warmer weather), will sell only from-scratch-made products.
During the tour the decision to put the store in a mall, Wilton Mall (3065 New York 50, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866), was questioned, but I felt comfortable with their response. They felt it was more ethical to utilize an already-existing space (rather than build new) and see it as an opportunity to make their store available to a broader demographic of shopper. I have young children who make getting in and out of the car a hassle, so making one stop for multiple needs (H&M, indoor playground as well as all my groceries) is a very appealing option. I hope the convenience of the store will not only make the store itself a success, but that it will also increase local enthusiasm for making and consuming healthy and interesting food.
I see Healthy Living as my means to cooking and eating what ever I want to. I imagine future posts of mine on this blog will likely include recipes for creations I’ve been able to make because of the existence of the store. I also look forward to my own input shaping the evolution of the store over time.
Owner and founder Katy Lesser said at the close of the tour, “We are the new guys in town. Tell us what you want!” I plan to do just that.