05 Dec Celebrating Food, Health, and Community During the Holidays
The “holidays” are a wonderful time of year—time to see family and friends, and catch up on the stories of our busy lives. For me, it is the culmination of a busy year, where we reflect and celebrate the community we live in. And, of course, almost all of these celebrations revolve around food.
Growing up Mennonite, on a farm in rural Lancaster County, food was central to my life—from harvesting tomatoes in the field with my family, to putting baby chickens in the cages in our pullet house (eventually they would be layer hens), to tending, harvesting, and preserving the large family garden we had. One vivid memory I have is when my Grandma came over and helped us butcher and clean chickens to freeze. That was the day when I fully understood what “running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off” meant. My mom refused to learn how to clean them; I’m fine with having never learned that either. We worked very hard to grow, raise, harvest, and preserve food for ourselves and countless others.
This farming foundation led me to where I am today—as owner of Lemon Street Market, food is still the central focus of my life. The experience of growing up and working on a conventional farm (plus the fact that it wasn’t just a business to us—we loved our land and were concerned about the amount of chemicals being used on the land and soil erosion) informed my knowledge of food systems today. As I learned more, I looked for (and found) more sustainable and healthy options. Buying locally and chemical free is the obvious best choice for the health of all of us, and for our planet.
Although I had been eating organic and local food as much as possible, in 2000 I discovered that I cannot eat gluten. Since then, it has been my pursuit to find the cleanest and most sustainable foods possible. To me, sustainability includes identifying and looking into the company that is making your food.
First, you look for substitutes for the bad ingredients that you are already using. I remember being giddy when I found Pacific Natural Foods Organic Condensed Mushroom Soup—what is green bean casserole, or most casseroles of my youth, without condensed mushroom soup?? Or, Ranch Dip from Simply Organic—an “acceptable” substitute for most people’s favorite Hidden Valley Ranch Dip. Those are only the tip of the iceberg of “clean” substitutes for the everyday foods that I grew up with. To me, clean includes products that are chemical free, with no artificial preservatives or colorings, no hormones, and as few ingredients as possible. Dairy and meat products are some of the most important things to eat clean, since animal milk and meats are the way the body releases and stores toxic chemicals. If you eat nothing else chemical free, these are the things you should focus on. At Lemon Street market we carry substitutes for a variety of food traditions—GMO-free corn tortillas, taco shells, and sauces; GMO-free Thai curry pastes; gluten free and organic tamari sauces to replace soy sauce, and even more.
Lemon Street Market is here to provide you—our customers—with the most wholesome and healthy ingredients. This means chemical free and organic. This means local. This means fair trade, when workers living in developing countries are paid a fair wage for their labor and are working in humane conditions. This means only essential oil fragrances in the products we sell. This means organic tee shirts because conventional cotton is one of the most oversprayed crops in the world.
95% of the approximately 2,500 different products we carry were intentionally chosen because of the story behind them—their ingredients, the company that made them, the social impact that company has on our community or another community… every product is full of thought and research. This is no less true during the holidays. We have chosen the finest chocolate that is all fair or direct trade, GMO-free, and (as often as possible) organic and allergen free (one exception is locally made BeeBees All Natural’s caramels). Our candles are locally made with clean wicks and either local beeswax or natural soy-based ingredients, scented with essential oils. We sell local artisan made hand towels, scarves, and hot pads (made from vintage fabric). Even our store-branded market bags are made from cloth that would otherwise go to a landfill. We love our community—and it is Lemon Street Market’s mission to bring the most sustainable products to Lancaster.
This busy holiday season, we want to make it as easy as possible for you to share your love of healthy, local, sustainable products with your friends and family through the carefully chosen products we carry. Wishing a happy, bright new year to you all!
Owner, Lemon Street Market