We’re approaching the last ten days of Ramadan, so it’s not the ideal time to talk about food but #veganramadan is real. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the growing number of Muslims who are happily hashtagging and Instagramming plant-based platters for their pre-fasting and post-fasting meals. Some are only going veg for the month, but we still applaud the effort. Of course, the highlight of the month is spiritual sustenance, but knowing where to get wholesome and healthy vegan meals certainly helps.
Last month, a much-needed vegan spot has surfaced in Tampa. Located inside of Duckweed Urban Grocery downtown, Farmacy Vegan Kitchen and Bakery has tucked in and turned heads. Three passionate entrepreneurs have combined culinary talent, business acumen, and vegan baking alchemy to create a refreshing addition to the dining scene. A streamlined menu of smoothies, fresh juices, overnight oats, acai bowls, salads, soups, wraps, and hot entrees sit in wait for health-conscious customers, while appetizing baked goods entice any and everyone.
We tried a Spinach and Cashew Cream Cheese wrap, Orange Blossom muffin, and Cashew Mac and Cheese.
Their low-soy menu is noticeable and timely. I’ve been weaning off of the superbean myself and didn’t have to risk temptation by tantalizing mock meats. Most other vegan options in the city are heavily soy-based Pan-Asian cuisines, with the exception of Middle Eastern, Ethiopian, Italian, and Indian, so Farmacy’s lively and light menu is really refreshing and welcomed.
The strong sustainability focus of Farmacy really appealed to me. I swooned at the sight of compostable and biodegradable takeaway materials and the sparing use of recyclable plastics. Duckweed Urban Grocery also has some energy-saving and recycling practices in place, so it seems that that two are a match made in Tampa.
Our general approach to medical intervention is pretty simple—avoid doctors if and when possible. We take preventative medicine seriously enough to exhaust every avenue of natural healing before succumbing to a clinic or hospital. We are grateful for access to quality medical care but prefer not to use it without necessity. Without being health nuts or fitness fanatics, we have steadily improved our diet, lifestyle, and exercise habits to a sustainable plateau that keeps us feeling pretty well, without major complaints, most of the time. But even when you feel good, sometimes curiosity about your internal affairs turns to skepticism. We’ve considered routine blood work, naturopathic consultations and iridology sessions for an overall check-up, but the most affordable and satisfying option for us was a consultation with our local herbalist.
At the corner of N. Armenia Avenue and Dale Mabry Boulevard, Health Wise Center is one of Tampa’s best kept secrets. A warm and endearing Master Herbalist, J. Maricella “Marcy” Pinella, is the main practitioner with other therapists available for massage, sauna treatments, counseling, etc. Even before Marcy’s lilting Latina voice starts to inquire and assess your wellbeing, the center itself emits an aura of calm and wellness. Just the presence of Himalayan crystal lamps, organic foods, and essential oils begin the therapeutic process before your consultation even begins.
Once your session with Marcy begins, she reviews your current medical complaints and your dietary habits before initiating a bio-feedback reading. A small metallic cylinder with plastic-capped ends is held in the left hand for about two minutes. The energy frequency of your various organs and body systems are scanned, assessed and reported on her computer. A printed reading of the assessment explains where glaring imbalances exist and where areas of toxicity or dysfunction lie. Followed up by an explanation of how your body’s imbalances correlate to a particular complaint with a few further diagnostic techniques, Ms. Marcy then prescribes an herbal and dietary regimen without putting you in a patient’s gown or forcing a needle into your veins. The experience was insightful without being invasive. In total, six of our family members sat for appointments with the herbalist, including Lil’ Z. One relative later had follow-up blood tests and assessments done by a medical professional and found Ms. Marcy’s initial assessment to be totally congruent to what the doctor could only conclude after a battery of blood work.
Some of us had no major complaints but felt that the assessment could still be worthwhile, and it was. We were prepared to hear some of the typical vegan diet criticisms but instead received praise and encouragement for our eating habits. We discovered a few minor imbalances, all of which can be addressed with herbal supplements. At only $35 USD per consultation, it is very likely that we’ll be adding a visit to Health Wise Center to our annual tours of Tampa.