Gems in the Bend: Drinking and dining on a student budget

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Photo/Kendall Asbell
Photo/Kendall Asbell

Staff Writer

This week we move away from the booze and focus on a gem of the healthy variety. Healthy and organic can be hard to find at a reasonable price, but store’s like Purple Porch Co-Op are making it a lot easier to live a little healthier on a student budget.

This week: Purple Porch Co-op

Purchasing organic food in a grocery store can often seem like a luxury. This perception is magnified among the student population, where ramen noodles, pizza and ready-made macaroni and cheese will make up three of the five main food groups. A student budget tends to lean towards quantity over quality.

Eating organic flips this narrative, lending itself to a diet that emphasizes quality over quantity. Many students are hesitant to make such a lifestyle choice. But if you are curious in checking out a healthier way to look at lunch, Purple Porch Co-op might be the spot for you.

Purple Porch Co-Op brings a rare culinary treat to the South Bend area. Purple Porch not only serves as an organic grocery store, but it also has a terrific hot bar and salad bar. The food is made-from-scratch, organic and locally sourced. You can serve yourself with any combo you desire. You dictate how much you want to spend. The perfect way to stretch that $5 you have in your budget for dinner.

The daily set up includes two soups (one is always vegan), three types of breakfast burritos (carnivore, vegetarian and vegan), a hot bar and a salad bar. You can take your food to go, or even eat in at one of the community-style tables in the dining area. Let’s face it, students grabbing lunch between classes often turn to fast food. On its face, this may seem like a rational choice. It’s quick and cheap. But the set up at Purple Porch perfectly caters to those in a hurry.

It can be hard to find quick food options that are also safe for people with food allergies, but Purple Porch makes it a point to always offer options. Gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy free options abound at the store.

Some of the other interesting items the store offers are a wide variety of gourmet chocolates and a full service Kombucha bar, both being offered by local Midwestern companies.

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that is carbonated and sweet, often having fruit flavors. Many people enjoy drinking it because it is a probiotic, which is said to help with stomach wellness and digestion. And just a warning, the fermentation does make the beverage have an extremely small alcohol content.

Purple Porch offers a variety of chocolates. If you’ve never tried a bar of bacon-milk-chocolate or eaten a piece of chocolate with bits of rhubarb pie in it, then you are seriously missing out. However, be sure to check the price tag before your purchase, as some of the gourmet bars can be a little pricey.

Whether you want to support local farmers and makers of local products, or whether you just want to find a healthy place to grab a bite, Purple Porch is a unique, yet excellent option. Students often bemoan that there are no affordable healthy food options nearby campus, but with a quick 5 to 10 minute drive, you can make your way over to 123 N. Hill St. and visit the friendly staff at Purple Porch. Do not overlook this healthy gem.


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