Waffle House, Martindale’s provide surprising local options

I had a very exciting moment over spring break.

I was sitting in a Waffle House somewhere in the South, on the way back to Swarthmore from South Carolina. I was not especially hungry, and therefore not planning on eating, when I happened to notice this odd blue symbol next to the chicken dishes on the menu. This symbol indicated that their chicken came from Springer Mountain Farms. I was absolutely stunned. Springer Mountain, located in Mt. Airy, GA, is the place from which many of the upscale restaurants in Atlanta get their chicken.

I can say, without exaggeration, that this was the best fast-food venture of my life. For three dollars, I had a wonderful grilled local chicken breast on a biscuit. I was in shock then, and am still in shock now. A friend from Florida with whom I shared this information is still convinced that it is fiction.

So, after that preface about fast food in the Southeast, I am going to move on to grocery stories by Swarthmore. As promised in the previous column, the subject is going to be Martindale’s Natural Market. Martindale’s is a grocery store at 1172 Baltimore Pike, which is just a 20-minute walk — and a five minute drive for those with access to a car — away from campus. While it may seem silly to go on such a voyage when the Co-Op is nearby, Martindale’s has a larger selection of local dairy products, such as my undying favorite: cheese. The Martindale’s website also offers coupons on some of their products as well as recipe suggestions.

When I arrived at Martindale’s, I decided to deviate from my usual pattern of perusing the store on my own and searching for interesting products. Instead, I asked whether someone could show me all of the local products for sale. A wonderful woman named Debbie, who works for their marketing department, gave me a tour of many of the local products available for purchase.
I was quite impressed by the wide selection of food. Not only did the store have a plethora of local dairy options, including raw milk from Pennsylvania which Debbie said people from all over the tri-state area came to purchase, but they also had more unique local products. For instance, they sell locally made gluten-free snacks and pet treats.

In addition to these more unusual local products, Martindale’s also has many locally sourced basics that one would need to cook a meal, such as eggs and meat. For instance, one can buy bacon from New Jersey for $5.39. Another item on sale was 100% organic local sauerkraut. The sauerkraut specifically stuck out to me, not because I am incredibly enthusiastic about pickled cabbage (which is also not to say that I dislike it) but because the providers of the food, Will’s Valley, had given a workshop at Martindale’s about how to make their product.

In the end, after much personal restraint, I decided against buying cheese and went for a pint of the local organic raw milk from The Family Cow. I have long believed that I am mildly lactose intolerant based off a series of stomach aches caused by milk when I was a child. However, I have grown suspicious of this diagnosis considering that I think the copious amounts of cheese I consume amounts to more than half a cup a day — my supposed limit. Debbie said that sometimes, though there is no guarantee, people who are lactose intolerant can have raw milk because the pasteurization process can remove some of the enzymes that help your stomach process the milk, and that when the milk is raw this problem goes away. In any event, I decided it was worth a shot.

I also purchased peanut butter macaroons that are gluten-free vegan snacks. My roommate decided to be vegan for Lent, so I thought she might appreciate a delicious treat that she could actually eat. Despite my skepticism of vegan and gluten free food, I found these snacks from The Greenwood Kitchen, located in Landsdowne, to be quite tasty.

Martindale’s was very much worth the walk. I have only touched on a portion of the local products they have available at their store. There was also, among other things, yogurt, fresh salads, hummus, and, though they did not have any when I was there, apparently sometimes there are even duck eggs. Furthermore, as we move on in the semester, I suspect that the amount of local products available for purchase will only increase as the weather gets warmer and more food get harvested.

Next time: the carnivorous column.

Ameila is a first-year. She can be reached at adornb1@swarthmore.edu.

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