The Sweet Side of Local Foods

If you go to Local Foods, you're likely to gravitate toward the terrific truffled egg salad or the crunchy chicken sandwich or the Tuscan kale with pine nuts and sultanas. Local Foods is famous for these and other items, and for good reason (fresh ingredients, consistent quality). Today, however, I'm here to make a plea for the restaurant's other, oft-overlooked offerings: the sweets.

"Overlooked" perhaps isn't quite the right word, given that these baked goods are impossible not to see given their prominent position right by the cash register. "Ignored" is a better description. I understand, though, why the average Local Foods patron is perhaps quick to dismiss these sumptuous homemade brownies, bars, cookies and cupcakes.

Indulgent desserts at first seem incongruous with the restaurant's whole-food, healthful essence. Why should you follow up that spritely arugula salad with shrimp and wheat berries, or your vegan chili, with a serving of empty carbohydrates?

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I'll refrain from giving you a cop-out answer such as "life's too short." I'm fully aware there's a health crisis in this country, caused in part by the consumption of too much saturated fat and sugar, and life's gonna be really short if you reward yourself with a frosted brownie after every meal.

My more reasonable response is that if your meal plan can incorporate a treat, then go ahead and satisfy your sweet craving at the same place where you satisfy your daily vegetable requirements by chowing down on fresh, straight-from-the-farm fare. The confections you'll find at Local Foods (all big enough to share, by the way) are far less processed (if at all) than the crap you know you're eventually going to pick up from the supermarket if you postpone attending to the siren's call for some sugar.

True, unlike with your grocery store, you cannot depend on Local Foods to offer unlimited quantities of the same desserts all the time. Thank God for that, as it's one of many indications these baked goods are made locally, regularly and in small batches. The blueberry crumb bars you mooned over on Monday might have pulled a disappearing act by Thursday, but you'll be distracted enough by the sight and taste of new tart basil lemon squares or "Mom's" chocolate cupcakes that you will welcome the substitution.

Keep all this mind, and I promise soon a lunch of Asian chicken salad followed by a chocolate espresso bar will seem like the perfect fit.

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