Savor: Healthy Food Fast

BY Cole Dittmer

An obsession with convenience and instant gratification has compromised the often-neglected diet of the average working American. Time constraints a lack of choice and price points often push many toward the nearest fast food establishment. Consider these four local cafs and markets ready to serve flavorful and nutritious food on the fly.

Carolina Farmin
2101 Market Street

The impetus behind opening Carolina Farmin says general manager Ben Long was to bring local produce to market while helping the farmers he and his father met while farming their familys land.

“About three to four years ago we began to retail some of the items grown on our farm at the farmers markets and started noticing a very big gap between the farmers and the consumers ” Long says. “People started asking where they could get the same quality products seven days a week 365 days a year and our awareness of that demand really sparked the Carolina Farmin idea.”

Long says some of the issues he and his father CEO Wayne Long faced in the beginning were the tasks of vertically integrating the different foods local farmers had to offer into one store as well as convincing farmers that there would be enough demand. The biggest trend the Longs are witnessing today is the consumption of natural local produce.

“When times are tough I think people want to know that their money is staying in this area ” Long says.

The caf at Carolina Farmin features all foods made with locally grown or caught produce and meats. In addition to the prepared sandwiches like the Greensboro Asheville or Durham other prepared items include BBQ tofu falafel wraps sesame noodles and black bean hummus. Also available is a fully stocked salad bar; a hot bar with fresh wild-caught pistachio-crusted salmon spiced shrimp grilled veggies and more; an extensive granola and nut bar; and numerous options for gluten free and vegan diners.

Loveys Market
Landfall Center (1319 Military Cutoff Road)

For the last ten years Marie Montemurro and Karen Stewart have carved out their own unique niche in Wilmingtons health foods and organics market.

“We saw there was a need for really healthy organic delicious foods that made it easy for people to make good decisions ” Stewart says. “To that point there really werent enough places like that around.”

A full health foods market and natural supplement shop Loveys has recently expanded its caf area. Now in addition to its long-standing organic salad bar customers can find an assortment of items such as free-range chicken quesadillas Boca burgers veggie melts organic sauted veggie plates or organic hotdogs.

“We try to have something for everybody whether youre a vegan on a raw diet a macrobiotic diet gluten free or just want an organic hot dog.” Stewart says.

With a location close to many surrounding neighborhoods Stewart says that she and Montemurro love that Loveys has become a hangout spot for many.

“This place gives you lots of hometown feel somewhere you can meet your neighbors and where you can come relax eat great food and feel good afterwards ” Stewart says.

“Hearing people come back to say how much they enjoyed the foods and how much better they feel thats why we got into this business.”

Boxed lunch – For those who do not have the time to spend the lunch hour at Loveys all of the items priced between $4.50 and $8.50 offered in the caf can be boxed and taken to go.

Tidal Creek Co-op
5329 Oleander Drive

What started 30 years ago as a small buying group of Wilmingtonians looking for bulk natural organic food has become one of the areas premiere health food groceries and full-service cafs. Tidal Creeks Co-op Kitchen manager Deb Lovan says she has seen a significant shift in the way customers think about healthy food choices during the six years she has worked there.

“I think when I first came to work here it was a lot more trend oriented but now I think people have just absorbed these choices into their lifestyles ” she says. “We are also getting more people who come to us because their doctor has put them on a specific diet and they dont know what to do so all of the food that we put out has labels on it that say whether or not those with specific diets can eat it.”

Diners at Tidal Creek Co-op Kitchens recently expanded caf can choose from a variety of different foods: the grab-and-go cooler features healthy options like the veggie humus wrap the grain and garbanzo snack stack and a rice noodle and veggie bowl. The hot bar provides heartier but healthy meals like eggplant with cashew cream. The salad bar features raw greens and a full complement of organic dishes. The kitchens new hot sandwich menu includes everything from the tempeh Rueben to the grilled Italian portabella mushroom and Cajun-spiced chicken breast sandwiches on gluten-free bread.

“In the kitchen we try to stay along the classic lines. Were not all tofu and tempeh ” laughs Lovan. “The classic foods that we do cook are always made with healthy and natural ingredients.”

Epic Food Co.
The Forum (1125 Military Cutoff Road) 

When it comes to healthy food options James Bains Epic Food Co. may be the new kid on the block but Bain has been cooking his way around Wilmington for a while.

Based on an idea Bain developed for a number of years Epic Food Co. brings a fresh new option for those looking for flavorful and healthy food on the go.

“Ive been working on a healthy quick service restaurant for four to five years and with the way people in Wilmington are eating now I felt that there was room for another healthy food outlet here with a family-driven atmosphere ” Bain says. “One of the things Im concerned about now is getting kids to eat healthy so Ive underpriced the kids meals just for that reason.”

Bains restaurant career helped him shape the way Epic Food Co.s caf is structured.

“Everyone has a specific diet or need now so that was one of the things I wanted to accomplish here for customers to be able to customize the food to their specific needs ” he says. “We are going to use a lot more world flavors from places like the Saigon Market and Los Portalles because a lot of those kinds of foods are low in fat and high in flavor both of which are key components to my food.”

Epic Food Co. has selections for breakfast lunch dinner or a healthy midday snack. At all times of the day customers can select meals from the grab-and-go cooler like gluten-free quick breads in the morning and family-sized casseroles for dinner. Another quick dine option at Epic Food Co. is the salad and wrap bar all of which can be custom-ordered for dine-in or carry-out.