Eating healthy for less

Options are available for students to eat healthy

Eating healthy and being a college student don’t typically coincide with one another.

In Big Rapids, a health food store called Mary’s All About Health & Wellness, located downtown on 207 S. Michigan Ave. next to the movie theater, offers a variety of healthy options for students who want to start eating organic or have food allergies.

Gloria Shellenbarger, who works in the kitchen at Mary’s All About Health & Wellness, said there are benefits of eating all organic and natural.

She said they offer gluten-free items.

“Some people can’t handle gluten, especially if they’re gluten intolerant or allergic to gluten,” Shellenbarger said.

The store offers foods such as non-dairy rice or tapioca cheese, organic chips, organic sodas, gluten-free pastas and milks with soy or almond. It also carries a host of organic foods and boasts a menagerie of healthy menu items from the only kitchen in town that specifically caters to food allergies or organic needs.

Mary’s All About Health & Wellness accepts the bridge card and EBT as a form of payment.

Growing your own vegetables has also taken the country by storm.

Penny Alger of Let’s Grow It!, also located downtown on 225 S. Michigan Ave., said the benefits to growing your own food are that you know what’s in it.

She said, “You can have fresh vegetables year round.”

Considering the average person eats approximately 250 pounds of vegetables in a year, according to the U.S. Department of Health’s latest findings, the savings can add up quickly.

For example, if a person ate 250 pounds of fresh tomatoes, it would cost them $2.94 per pound, according to the USDA—that translates into approximately $735 per year.

“As long as you got a light, water and dirt, you can grow any plant,” Alger said.

To make the plants grow faster, better and healthier, Alger said that indoor growing and hydroponics are nothing new. She said it has been around since 1822, and that it has a small startup cost with just a bucket, a light and dirt.

The cost of the light and stand is $69.95, and the dome and stand is less than $2.

“It costs less than $100 to have fresh vegetables all year long. You can make your own and hang it on a ceiling,” Alger said. “Dirt’s pretty cheap; it really won’t cost that much to get going. The best benefit is fresh vegetables year round, and it’s fun and rewarding.” n

Look for a special spread on eating healthy and growing your own food in next week’s issue, April 24, as a part of celebrating Earth Day.