Local Oxford resident Melody Sharp opened Living Foods: Organic Café and Market last year. Taking advantage of a growing trend that involves healthy options, locally grown foods, and organic products, Melody Sharp said opening the restaurant was necessary because eating healthy is vital to society.
“I have two little boys,” Sharp said, “and I was tired of not being able to take them anywhere to eat that was healthy. In February 2014, I opened Living Foods to offer healthier options.”
In Oxford, there are very few places that offers local, organic ingredients or products.
“We’ve now been open a year,” Sharp said with a smile. Living Foods offers organic lunches, a juice and smoothie bar, natural grocery and personal care items, frozen meals, catering, and even cakes, she said.
Sharp said the combination of items allows the store to flourish, but the juice and smoothie bar and lunch items are the most popular.
“My personal favorites are the Greenie Smoothie, Detox Juice, and the Fried Avocado Tacos,” she said.
The tacos will soon be a regular menu item instead of a special, and “we are pretty excited about that,” she said.
Brooks Wingate, an avid healthy eater, repeat customer of the store, and junior majoring in pharmacy at Ole Miss, said she loves Living Foods for the “wide variety of dishes that are full of flavor and healthy at the same time.”
Wingate said at first she was skeptical of the juices because of the ingredients, such as avocado and beets, but after trying one, she has continued to go back for more because of the great flavors. The store stocks items that Sharp and her family eat at home and items people have personally requested.
“When using local items, our standard requires the farm to be organic, and if they aren’t certified, the practices must be in place,” she said. “We are very careful about the selection process and the people we do business with.”
Sharp said she personally visits local farms where the items are produced.
Local eggs and meats are the best selling items in Living Foods, along with various sweets, such as ice cream and chocolates. Considering that there are few places in Oxford where local items can be bought, Sharp prides herself in the fact that her store can provide this convenience she said. The inspiration for the store comes from more than a desire to provide healthy choices to the Oxford community, Sharp said.
“Food is meant to fuel and heal our bodies,” Sharp said. “If people knew that, they would take more time and care in selecting the right food for their bodies.”
Sharp laughed as she explained that her husband came home from work one day and said he couldn’t eat pizza anymore.
“I asked why, and he said it just made him feel awful after eating so healthy and then eating something that was so fattening,” she said.
“It’s just an example of how people don’t know just how good they can feel from eating healthy foods.” Sharp said. Katie Williams, a junior majoring in nutrition and dietetics major at Ole Miss, said she understands the importance of eating healthy and appreciates what Living Foods is bringing to the community.
“Eating healthy makes me feel less fatigued and keeps me energized throughout the day,” Williams said. Eating healthy not only helps maintain physical health, but also helps to keep her mentally healthy.
“I love what Living Foods is trying to accomplish between, bringing healthy alternatives to Oxford and attempting to teach people about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle that incorporates local, organic products,” Williams said.
In addition to providing healthy alternatives to the community of Oxford, Living Foods began a class series in the spring of last year. Throughout the semester, Living Foods, in collaboration with other business owners and speakers, will hold classes that teach people the importance of living healthy.
“People want to know how to be healthy,” Sharp says, “but they need a place to do it and the resources to learn it, and that’s what we provide.”
The classes are either free or inexpensive, she said.
Lindsey Andrews is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at email@example.com.