Planteaters, a newcomer to app scene, directs hungry diners to meals from a variety of veg-friendly, though not necessarily vegan and vegetarian restaurants. It can be downloaded for free from www.getplanteaters.com. Planteaters is the brain child of Dave Hersh from New York City who developed it out of a need to, as he says, “scratch his own itch.” He found since becoming vegan four years ago he usually has to make greater compromises than his meat-eating friends when dining out together, often having to order a salad or abstain from eating altogether.
Hersh saw a need for an app which will direct diners to restaurants which offer plant-based meals as well as meals for their carnivorous companions. It is worth noting there are a number of non-vegan restaurants out there that offer excellent vegan meals. For example, Dave mentions a restaurant near where he works that offers the best vegan burrito he’s ever eaten and the name of the restaurant means “Three Meats!” Planteaters is the only app available which focuses on individual meals as opposed to vegetarian or vegan restaurants per se.
Grow Crowd App provides a local marketplace for organic food producers to sell fresh, organic products (vegetables, herbs, fruits, nuts, mushrooms, etc.) directly to their local communities. It is essentially a virtual farmers market. Users can browse local farmers and their products to find the freshest food available at the moment of purchase. Customers can order their produce on-line and pre-arrange pickup times and locations.
Grow Crowd, was created by Johan Steneros of Southern Spain. A backyard organic gardener for the past three years, Steneros became aware of the growth of organic farming as well as growing demands of the consumer for organically grown produce. Johan has a background in web design, building applications as well as creative projects. “I am very much involved in the App world and mobile communication, says Steneros. “I did my research and saw there wasn’t very much happening in this area so I thought I’d get it moving.” He began working on the Grow Crowd App a year ago and it was launched October 8, 2013. It is available on iTunes and the Apple AppStore worldwide as a free download.
Once in a blue moon I’ll discover a truly unique gem of a resource that I simply feel duty bound to share with the world. Natural Imports of Asheville, NC, is one such discovery. Natural Imports is a purveyor of traditional Japanese culinary products of the highest caliber. Great care is taken to assure excellence, offering foods of a medicinal quality, prepared in time honored traditions by skilled Japanese craftsmen. Mass production and quicker, low-quality methods are threatening the livelihoods of these Japanese artisans, who prepare foods using the principal of Ishoku Dogen, “medicine and food have the same source.” You’ll find no mass market food and no arsenic laden Chinese seaweed here, only traditionally crafted products and sea vegetables grown in deep waters of Japan, protected for centuries with organic, sustainable practices.
Bruce MacDonald, now semi-retired, is the founder of Natural Imports. His daughter, Crystal, has been his partner and business manager since its inception in 1993, since she was 19 years old. Crystal speaks fluent Japanese and is a wealth of information about all aspects of how the seaweed is harvested, the medicinal and nutritional ingredients of every product, the sustainability practices of her suppliers and any glitch that effects the ecosystem and thereby affecting the quality of their products. She is a dynamic powerhouse who stays on top of all issues pertaining to Natural Imports.
Crystal essentially grew up in the business. Her parents divorced when she was young and she spent summers working at Commodities, a Japanese import store Bruce owned in New York City, where she learned about Japanese food. Bruce had previously worked for Erehwon in Boston, which was the original importer of natural foods in the US and subsequently for Erehwon West in California and later for Bread and Circus, which was sold to become the original Whole Foods Market.
It is the second Sunday of the month, meaning King Street has been cordoned off for the day. Restaurants spill onto the curbs with tables and bright umbrellas in an air of camaraderie and joie de vivre. Waiters carry fragrant platters of myriad foodstuffs and drink to cheerful tourists. Dog walkers and young mothers pushing baby strollers maneuver around them and the city becomes alive with students, street musicians, Citadel cadets and sundry on-lookers, the young and wizened alike.
The first leg of our vegan trek through the historic city of Charleston, SC, takes us to CO, a charming Vietnamese restaurant located on King Street. It is nestled amid the lovely sunbathed pastel architecture indicative of Charleston, right in the heart of its busy shopping district near the intersection of George Street.
We order our usual water with no ice and I ask Sam, our waitress, to point out the vegan items on the menu. She exchanges the menu in my hand with a vegan and gluten-free menu and the issue is immediately resolved. The name “CO” means “Feast” in Vietnamese, which certainly is appropriate for this restaurant which offers a wide range of choices. We spoke at length with Josh, the general manager. He explains the produce used in preparing CO’s food is locally sourced, though no great attention has been paid to the presence of GMO’s. After suffering, with patience and grace, through my lecture on the subject perhaps in the future that will change. One restaurant at a time is my policy! (He’ll be quizzed on the subject on our next visit.) 🙂
While en-route to Charleston, SC, to celebrate the 26th anniversary of our first date (Nov 11th), Rich and I found ourselves on I-26 absolutely famished and still nearly two hours from our destination. We stopped at Columbia, SC, and were lucky to discover Lamb’s Bread Vegan Café, an animal free, organic, NON-GMO restaurant right off I-26 on Main Street! You’ll know you are at the right place when you see their street sign with the name of their restaurant followed by “Love is the Key.” What a perfect preamble to enjoying a healthy meal!