Living Foods gives Oxford organic options

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, November 12, 2015

By Tyler Bullard

Collin Wilbanks started to get serious about his health his freshmen year of college at the University of Mississippi after gaining 15 pounds his first year. He decided to make a change.

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“Eating better food overall helps your immune system, allows you to think clearly, have more energy,” he said, “and everyone needs to remember that everything you eat is fuel to help your body keep going.”

Today, Wilbanks is one of four employees at Living Foods, an Oxford store that sells organic food. The store helps support local farmers by buying their products to sell in their market, and they use them to make organic cuisine.

Wilbanks said it feels good to serve food that could change someone’s lifestyle.

Organic food is grown without pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics or growth hormones. Living Foods is a café and market on College Hill Road owned by Melody Sharp that has been in business a little more than a year.

Sharp, who has a child with food allergies, started the business because there was not a restaurant in Oxford that was strictly organic.

Sharp said her company serves an average of 20 to 50 people a day, and most are regulars. Most eat and shop in the store’s organic market.

Sharp sells a lot of milk and eggs, which come from local farms. She said Brown Dairy milk is a popular item for customers.

Sharp said her prices at Living Foods are comparable with other popular chain restaurants around Oxford, such as Newk’s or McAllister’s. Meats are typically higher, but are worth the money, in her opinion.

“They can either pay a little more for better food or pay for more doctor bills,” said Sharp.

Social media has helped promote the business. Sharp said Living Foods is a destination store for people visiting Oxford, such as parents of college students or tourists.

Living Foods provides dishes to take home, such as casseroles and salads. Detox Juice is one of her best-sellers bought along with quinoa and Grown Up Grill Cheese.

Living Foods also provides allergy-friendly products. Most of their products are dairy- and gluten-free. Baked goods are popular dessert items made with vegan butter instead of dairy butter.

Sharp said she hopes the business grows and would like to open a second location eventually.