Traveling along the I-95 corridor (including the New Jersey Turnpike) is seldom an easy drive and often stop and go. But when studying the AAA road map of New Jersey and spotting the historic college town of Princeton mere miles off the traffic-jammed highway, a lightbulb moment.
On another long drive along I-90, the few extra miles to get off the highway and stop for lunch at True Food in the Hudson River town of Nyack (Rockland County) proved restorative for this weary driver. So to stop for lunch in Princeton, New Jersey’s historic college town, to break up tedious travel on an interstate highway, seemed promising.
But where to stop for lunch in Princeton? The listing for the Whole Earth Center’s Deli & Bakery in the New Jersey dining directory on this website caught my eye. My local food co-op, the Honest Weight in my hometown of Albany, NY, has a deli/cafe which is an inviting place to have a meal, and when scanning the dining listings of this website I especially note for future (no fuss and quick meals while traveling) the listings for food co-ops and natural foods stores with cafés. (The listings for craft bakeries and coffee shops on this website are also handy for figuring out stopping places when traveling.)
The Deli & Bakery at the Whole Earth Center did not disappoint this traveler. The invitation on the Center’s website to “come enjoy a meal or snack in our beautiful sunlit cafe” proved accurate, with friendly service and comfortable seating.
And Princeton’s Whole Earth Center is a special place with its alliterative marketing words, “Produce and Products with Purpose,” and more important, with its long history as the college town’s oldest natural foods grocery. For more than 45 years, Whole Earth Center has provided the town and environs with “an unmatched selection of quality organic produce, prepared and packaged foods, environmental friendly household products and cruelty-free natural health and beauty.”
And a stroll around the store showed an on-going Bike Raffle with a winner to be announced in early June, which provided some evidence of the Whole Earth Center’s support for “a wide variety of organizations and initiatives focused on the health of our customers, our communities and our planet” as noted on its website. According to a blog post of the Princeton’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, the Whole Earth Center celebrates bike riding year round, plus this May they practice what has been termed Random Acts of Community: on each week of the month on a randomly chosen day, at a randomly chosen corner and time, the Center gives the first 6 bicyclists who ride by a reward package from local businesses worth over $55.
For lunch, the deli’s menu offers a choice of six classic sandwiches, all made with organically grown vegetables. Sandwiches can be ordered either whole ($5.99) or half ($3.25). My choice of the Colby Cheese classic sandwich (Colby Cheese, organic mustard, organic carrots, organic bell pepper, organic red onion, organic tomato, organic zucchini and organic sprouts on whole wheat pita) made for a delicious lunch. Along with a large organic coffee made with Rojo Roastery’s small-batch, artisan coffee [located in Lambertville, NJ (roastery/cafe) and Princeton (cafe)], the quick and no-fuss meal, was perfect jolt of energy to continue the journey home to upstate New York.
Plus an assortment of cookies from the Whole Earth Center’s bakery ($5.70 for a half pound) including chocolate hazelnut, orange cherry cranberry, cranberry raisin pecan (with the organic ingredients carefully noted) proved irresistible. And this home baker was pleased to see in the grocery aisle Small Valley Milling’s Organic All Purpose Whole Wheat Flour. Based in Halifax, PA (Dauphin County), Small Valley Milling is included in this website’s Grains & Flours directory of growers/millers of organic and artisinal grains and flours, not part of the commodity grain trade.
With the sun shining on a beautiful spring day in May, before returning to the interstate, this well-fed traveler decided to visit the farm of the inspiring Cherry Valley Cooperative on the outskirts of Princeton. The Cooperative on its website describes who we are as a collaboration of farmers, chefs, innovators, students, artists, and wellness professionals with the shared vision of celebrating our connection to nature.
The Cherry Valley Cooperative’s farm is a diverse 97 acres with open fields, pasture, forest, wetland and a lake. It offers farm shares for “food grown with a commitment to the environment and health, on a first come, first serve basis,” and is included in this website’s directory of CSAs in New Jersey.
(Frank W. Barrie, 5/16/19)